People often talk about these random ‘little’ instances, over which ‘love’ happened for them. Ask them if they knew it instantly then, they will blink. Because that’s how love happens. When you are least aware of what your heart is being subjected to.
For Cheenu, however, that little moment pans out as a brooding reflection of the cruel ways of fate.
They say the worst feeling is loving someone who doesn’t love you back. Believe me, it’s not. Nothing can beat the pain of loving someone, who you realise might have loved you in another space-time dimension, but, is now not in a position to reciprocate your feelings.
Everything is going to hurt.
Cheenu knows it, but then, what was he expecting?
The day he had accidentally seen Viji – whose mental state had regressed to that of a child following an accident – in a brothel, something inside him had snapped. There was no putting to words what he had felt for the girl-child, that freaking moment.
Why did he decide to take her with him to Keti? What made him think he was ready to play nanny to a kid? Was it a decision driven by impulse? If given a choice, would he do it the same way, all over again? Cheenu has no answers.
But, he knows something. Love happens in mysterious ways. And, it need not necessarily be understood or acknowledged.
In fact, there is no controlling the heart – when it decides to give itself up to someone. It doesn’t see logic when it’s opening wide to accommodate that person, replete with all their imperfections. But once they are inside, it slowly unlocks itself to unreasonable fears and brutal reasoning.
Cheenu seems to be slowly drowning in that ocean of doubts, this quaint night, as he tries his best to put Viji to sleep.
Is he gasping for breath, frantically trying to stay afloat?
Or, is he on a flagellant trip, having resigned himself to the inevitable?
We will never know. But, either way, it is fucking painful. In ways more than one.
All this angst, however, doesn’t show in his face, as he goes about his muted lullaby.
In fact, paradoxically, you can see a hint of tranquillity and thankfulness. Is he resorting to some strange kind of psychological projection? Or, is he just wearing a mask? Again, we will never know.
கன்னி மயிலெனக் கண்டேன் உனை நானே
அந்தி பகல் உனை நான் பார்க்கிறேன்
ஆண்டவனை இதைத்தான் கேட்கிறேன்
ஆரிராரோ …ஓராரிரோ …
Of all the mortals on this planet, why did he have to wind up with this girl-child, whose world starts and ends with pretend play? The more he thinks about it, the more it makes him wish that the night – and with it, this whole bittersweet reverie – never ended.
Those annoying antics. Those frustrating tantrums. Everything about Viji would drive Cheenu mad, but, only till she flashes that endearing smile. The next moment, he will be reduced to a molten, emotional mess. That way, she was an oxymoron – a guardian angel and an entitled brat at the same time.
And, that made the situation all the more complicated.
Isn’t love as much about timing as it is about who you fall in love with? Unfortunately, Cheenu hates timing. He usually runs out of time with everything he loves. Maybe, that’s just part of his ‘adulting’.
Or, maybe not.
But, to burn with emotions and keeping quiet about it is, arguably, the greatest suffering a man can perhaps bring on himself. For Cheenu though, continuing to be Viji’s caretaker from a distance, happens to be the sole therapy for his agony.
Viji yawns, and proceeds to rest her head on Cheenu’s lap.
What must be running in her head, as she clings on to his legs?
Is she blissfully oblivious of the emotional scourges of adulthood? Is her handicap a blessing that way? A beatific aberration of destiny – something that Cheenu can’t afford to be, in all his lifetime?
ஊமை என்றால் ஒரு வகை அமைதி,
ஏழை என்றால் ஆதிலொரு அமைதி
நீயோ கிளிப்பேடு, பண் பாடும் ஆனந்தக் குயில் பேடு…
ஏனோ தெய்வம் சதி செய்தது; பேதை போல விதி செய்தது!
Soon, Viji seems fast sleep. Cheenu pauses and attempts to shift her head to a pillow. Half-groggy, she resists, and grasps his sweater. His guard down, he instantly tears up.
And boom… all his defence mechanisms come crashing down.
When you truly love someone, and fear about having to let them go at some point of time, there will always be that small part of yourself that whispers, “What was it that you wanted and why didn’t you fight for it?”
For Cheenu, the whispers begin to get louder.
காதல் கொண்டேன், கனவினை வளர்த்தேன்
கண்மணி உனை நான் கருத்தினில் நிறைத்தேன்.
Every single person fighting destiny will eventually find their breaking point – that moment, when enough becomes enough. Cheenu almost gets the first taste of it, as he battles an imminent breakdown. He starts feeling the painful lump in his throat, as more tears get ready to come gushing out.
Why me? The single thought echoes all around the room.
உனக்கே உயிரானேன், எந்நாளும் எனை நீ மறவாதே…
நீ இல்லாமல் எது நிம்மதி, நீதான் என்றும் என் சந்நிதி!
Cheenu glances at Viji, who’s sucking her thumb, while in deep slumber. He feels a strange sense of joy, combined with pride.
But, it soon transforms into something that makes his chest feel tight, as if the muscles are trying not to let another breath in. His mind becomes static, thoughts making no sense at all.
Because, there always comes a time in life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book, or simply close it. Keeping a finished page open can feel magical, but magic is, more often than not… just an illusion.
A part of Cheenu seems to have made peace with that illusion, though. Even if Viji doesn’t ever love Cheenu the way he wants her to, that part will still continue to love on behalf of both of them.
Singer: KJ Yesudas
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