You know that they are home even before the jangling keys can be heard. When your children look at you in wonder when you inevitably predict their appearance to the second, you just chuckle and run to kiss them.
When your lips meet theirs, it is just like the first day you awkwardly locked lips, behind that big wall in the school ground. You didn’t know what to do with your hands, so you just left them hanging from your sides while they held your face with their hands and tried to kiss you on the mouth. You couldn’t talk to them for the rest of the day because every time you saw them, you remembered their sweet mouth.
It certainly didn’t help the disastrous situation when a teacher saw your kiss and considered it a first-degree offence. No, it didn’t help at all when your parents were called to the school and you had to apologize for your misconduct in the morning assembly while the audience members were tasting each other with no repercussions.
Your big fight with them ends with them storming off with puffs of smoke coming out of their ears, and you sitting at the muddy stone steps of your house, head in your knees, wetting your favourite clothes with salty heartbreak.
Of course, since you are not one to give up, you pursue them for over a week before they break and commit to you for life. This time around, you both take various precautions with your relationship and make sure not to be suspiciously affectionate in the school corridors. For backup, you both come clean to your parents and hold each other’s slippery hands while they come to terms with the two of you.
They work harder at schoolwork so that they can get into the same university as you. They stay up at night, poring over their books so that your affair doesn’t become long-distance or non-existent due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.
No one screams louder than you when their acceptance letter comes in and takes on the brief role of matchmaker in your union.
Everybody gapes at your hands still entwined with theirs after the three years spent in university. Money is exchanged in secret when they lose the bets made at your fresher year. You and they chuckle to yourselves to this day when you think about those people who thought that the two of you wouldn’t last.
It is definitely not a surprise when both of you get on your knees at the same time and try to propose to each other without bursting into tears. All the confetti and fireworks have finished when you finally are only a few inches away from each other, still on your knees.
You put their ring on first with a shaky hand and let them slide your ring into place with a ketchup-stained hand. All the plans that you had made had not gone exactly to plan, and neither had theirs. People had tripped and fallen on your expensive food, champagne had drenched you both, and the fireworks and music had started early.
But you both knew that none of it mattered when you kissed. The magic that shone from the two of you when you touched each other that night made up for all the mishaps that had occurred earlier that day.
Your wedding wasn’t the fairytale you had hoped for. There had been disagreements among your families, and sulking people with grey hair lined the photographs like ink splatters. But you both were happy. And somehow, your smiling faces spread enough light to blot out their frowns.
It is hard for you two. When your children ask you why their friends visit their grandparents and they don’t, you look at each other with pursed lips. You make up your excuses and convince them. Those are the hardest nights. You both talk to each other in whispered breaths and make shapes with your fingers to lull yourselves to sleep.
Your parents call at times, and so do theirs. They always hope that you both change your mind and get rid of each other. You try to explain to them that you both are partners for life the first time they interrogate you. The calls following this only consist of nods and convincing them that the children are fine. The gap between each call widens and you soon adjust to the fact that you are estranged from your family.
But you have each other. Somehow, in some strange way, having each other makes it better. It makes those feverish nights calmer and it makes those questions easier. Their hand in yours slows down your heart to an acceptable pace. Their lips in yours ignites a fire that can’t be extinguished by the rest of the world. Every second spent with each other is a blessing that can’t be taken back.
When you meet people from your past, they comment on the features that have changed. Their looks of shock are always worthwhile when you confess that your relationship still remains as strong as before. They take you aside and try to pull out your better half’s shortcomings, and they succeed. But their faces pull into frowns when you tell them that their shortcomings make them even more worth being with. They try and catch you in a compromising position but fail every time.
When the children are asleep, sometimes you tiptoe down the staircase and sit in the wooden chair on the porch, looking up at the star dotted sky and shedding tears until the lights around you become stringy.
They come behind you and place their hands on your shoulders, and you coat their hands with your weaknesses, and they don’t flinch at them because they have their own.
The years pass by without much difficulty, and you still have each other. The world is on fire, embers and dark fog. Bloodshot eyes and gaping cracks between the dysfunctional residents of a household. But your lives are still as whole as before. The fights and disagreements make your bond stronger. They make it harder to leave each other.
Through it all, you still have each other.
That is all that matters.