Portrait of a Sōrumeito in Old Age

story of a soulmate

A True Story

A 70-year-old man in our apartment complex was unwell and admitted to the hospital. Initially, he battled Covid-19 but recovered. Later, he passed away from acute pneumonia. He was a widower; lost his wife to a brain stroke. He was a lawyer, and no one could win over his arguments; that’s how he kept the community alive and happy.

Here, the man had one great company; he was friends with a lady in her late 60s who lives in the same community. They both shared amazing chemistry. No one in our apartment complex ever questioned their proximity. No one ever questioned the man’s loyalty to his deceased wife. He surely loved his wife as he would always talk about her activities.

The friendship that this man shared with the lady, in a parallel world, is about old-age companionship. Let me tell you that the old lady too was a doting wife but lost her beloved and left behind, alone, with two children who are married and settled far away. Do you know Sōrumeito? In Japanese, Sōrumeito is a soulmate, and this is the story of a soulmate in her old age in intensive care.

When I got the news of the man’s demise from the security guard, I did not react. Much of that is lost to ingraining the demise of my grandfather. So, I simply shared the news with my ma, and she was stoned to shock. She immediately called up the lady to check with her if she knew. She responded very firmly, ascertaining to my mom that she was fine.

It has been almost ten days since the demise of the man. The lady is in the hospital. She had a high fever when she was admitted because, coincidentally, she was with her older sister. Doctors informed her sister that she is suffering some viral and not Covid-19. In reality, she is in depression, as informed to her children.

Now the lady’s daughter-in-law called my mom to confide their grief. When my ma relayed this to me, she was full of tears. As someone diagnosed with episodic depression, I could so much relate to the whole story—the bonding of a widow and a widower respectful of each other’s departed partners being in a loving companionship beyond the use & throw hook-up culture.

When I shared this story of a soulmate with my friend-in-poetry, poet, artist, and professor Shweta Rao Garg, her response moved me. I couldn’t wait to include her thoughts in this story. She said, “To imagine that when marriages of decades can fail in creating bonds, these friends, soulmates, could get that intimacy without ever living together.” Tell me, isn’t she right?

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