There hadn’t been an arranged marriage in our clan for years, even decades. We had men and women from all parts of India, most communities, and no one blinked if youngsters in the family were dating as long as their academic performance didn’t suffer. But I remember the comments Zillu’s relationship threw up because of the age difference in marriage:
“She’s 11 years older than him?”
What excitement those hushed whispers generated. After a few days, they were hushed no longer. They were open questions, statements, opinions bandied about. It was shocking. No words could describe something as blasphemous as the age difference in marriage.
Just imagine this: Miss Y was in the eleventh standard when Zillu entered primary school. By the time he reached the eleventh grade, she’d already been earning and independent for over seven years. She even had a flat of her own.
He’d started learning music from her when he hadn’t a single whisker. When and how they fell in love, don’t ask me, because I really don’t know. I just remember a mighty ruckus when one day someone ‘found out’. Probably a nosy aunt or neighbor who promptly tattled to his parents, and then, all hell broke loose.
Does Age Difference In Relationships Matter?
The music lessons were halted from that very moment. It made no difference. Apparently, they used to meet at her place. Zillu was forbidden from going there, and since this was in the era before mobile phones, one of us had to escort him wherever he went, to make sure he didn’t break the rule.
But unconditional love, they say, finds a way. And in Sanskrit, there’s a saying that when in love, a person feels no fear, no shame. It’s a sentiment our ancestors knew all about. Back then, I had always wondered: why does age matter in love?
Zillu and his lady love didn’t find it difficult to cheat us escorts. They took us along to the movies. We stared hypnotized at the Phantom as he struck again, while they cuddled up in air-conditioned comfort. While we enjoyed the giant wheel rides, they staggered away to hug and snuggle. We licked our way through orange ice sticks, reading comics in a corner of her flat, while they giggled and teased each other. Their mutual attraction was so wonderful to watch.
Come Diwali or some other festival, and Zillu’s girlfriend would ‘drop in’ to greet us all. That awkward silence, the clearing of throats, the embarrassed offering of sweet and savory goodies, it was all such a natak. But we (the younger generation) were less concerned with things like the age difference between couples. We thought: A wife older than the husband? So what?
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A wife older than husband…The infamous age difference between couples
Since, from childhood, we were all conditioned to study lest we not get jobs, Zillu had to do something besides go gallivanting with her. And she, being older and wiser, most certainly exercised good sense and insisted that he start earning before they ‘settle down’ or consider getting married.
These two words, ‘settle down,’ had different connotations in our family, and there were sniggers when this condition of hers was mentioned. There really was a lot of stigma surrounding the age difference in marriage. But why does age matter in a relationship if two people are happy? No one considered that.
Ten long years after they’d been ‘caught’, they finally signed the register. She’d waited and supported him through his college years, through his initial career. Some said she was too old now. Some said it wouldn’t last. Most said what was the point? He was almost 30, and she was at the edge of her child-bearing years. But they did get married. They were least bothered with the age difference in love.
They’d become so much a part of the other’s life that they were inseparable. They merely slipped from one flat into another, as smoothly as putting on a used sock. The age difference in marriage was never a hindrance; in fact, it was the reason they got along so well. How does age matter in love when two people are soulmates?
They had no children. Us, cousins, and our offsprings were showered with affection. Their house was always open to us, at all times. In hard times, they were our rock. In good times, the sharers of our happiness.
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Why does age matter in love?
As they grew older, she became bent and began to limp as her joints gave way and he was her rock, her stick, her energy, her everything. He really was her prince, always charming, always attentive, always gallant. Through her wrinkles, she smiled at him, and he beamed back.
Each summer, she used to sponsor a holiday for him at a hill station. Sometimes they took a few of us cousins along. After her retirement, he took her for a wonderful, month-long holiday. He had years before he’d call it a day. She was proud and never once missed giving him a freshly cooked meal when he returned from work. Devotion? You could see it in their body language.
I don’t know of what disease, but she wasted and died when he wasn’t yet 60. She was gone, gone. And Zillu was bewildered. He’d always looked up to her. He needed her guiding hand, comforting words, and her presence. Within a year, quite woebegone, overwhelmed by unspoken grief, he joined her. Age difference in marriage be damned, these two were made for each other. Wherever they are, they must be united. That’s for sure.
Does age matter in a relationship so much, especially when it’s the case of the wife older than the husband? No…Age difference in love bears little consequence.