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Waiting for Nandi

Could patience in love set us free, asks Rohit Trilokekar

Rohit Trilokekar | Published 23.10.22, 12:03 PM
Most lovers lack the patience of Nandi, the quality to wait without any expectations

Most lovers lack the patience of Nandi, the quality to wait without any expectations


When I was in my early twenties, I developed a keen interest in a girl I had met online. Those were the fledgling days of instant messaging on the internet. Let us call the girl Anya. Quite curiously, Anya agreed to meet me for lunch only if she were accompanied by her brother. Never a threesome guy, I nevertheless caved in, heavily infatuated as I was with this girl who had found her way to my heart through sheer words. It was a blind date, in the sense I had no idea what she looked like. Or he, for that matter. Ensuring I seemed my spiffiest best,  I made it to the venue, India Jones (in Mumbai), on time, and gave Anya the statutory 15 minutes’ grace. And then some. 

They say the female albatross can wait years for its mate to return. Her mate for life, mind you (divorce rates among albatrosses are negligible). Excitedly heralding his arrival, she will indulge in a dance with her long-lost beau. Never mind the several bouts of infidelity her man might have indulged in before reuniting with his sweetheart (ring a bell?) .


I waited patiently for amore mio. Except minutes, not years. Turns out I am no female albatross.

Being with someone we love bequeaths a sense of normalcy

We are all waiting for the ones we love; be it the wizened old lady at the airport for her husband who still toils as a labourer in Saudi Arabia, or parents for their children after that yellow bus has cruelly whisked them away in the morning. Being with someone we love bequeaths a sense of normalcy. Even if the word ‘with’ is a tad ambiguous (what if they are in the adjoining room?). Proximity is paramount. We make daily WhatsApp calls to family members when they are in the same city, monthly when continents apart.

Anya’s no-show gutted me to the core. Perhaps she and her ‘brother’ were observing me from a nearby table, silently lapping up my plight. That one hour (after I had given up) was sheer torture. I found myself desolate in an environment of cheer and mirth and ordered something randomly off the menu. At least eating afforded me some solace, allowing me to engage my senses in something (there were no cell phones back then). I tipped handsomely and even forced a smile. Not that it masked my pain from the waiter who looked at me as if I were an utter disgrace. He was privy to my shameful secret, after all. I had told him I was expecting people. Glad to escape, I went home and cried. An art I seemed to have perfected.

Like Nandi, we are forever waiting

Each of us is waiting for someone we love in a way only we can

Each of us is waiting for someone we love in a way only we can


When talking about Nandi, Sadhguru says:

Nandi is a symbol of eternal waiting, because waiting is considered the greatest virtue in Indian culture. One who knows how to simply sit and wait is naturally meditative. He is not expecting Shiva to come out tomorrow. He will wait forever. That quality is the essence of receptivity.

Like Nandi, we are forever waiting. Lovers for the next touch or grandmothers to sing a lullaby to their infant grandchildren. Unlike Nandi, we find ourselves in a rush to bask in the presence of our loved ones, like family members on vacation pinned against each other to facilitate a picture in a single frame (everything else they do on holiday is irrelevant, no?). 

I heard a friend had decided to get married because he did not wish to return to an empty home. Yet, some married folk are the loneliest people. In my late twenties, I would sit for hours by the sea, simply watching the waves. I never felt the need for another. With the girl I married, it was love for the sake of love, not one that stemmed from the need to fill a vacuum. A vacuum I must confess I experienced in my teenage years. 

I’ve been waiting for a girl like you

To come into my life

— Foreigner

We are mistakenly trying to fill an existential void with…relationships

I once felt a hollowness inside me post a terrible break-up. I must have lain in bed for a week, just crying. What was that hollow feeling? Surely, it could not be the void? Turns out, it was. Just a completely different one.

Life is largely beyond our understanding. It does not help knowing we live on a giant ball that revolves around a larger ball of fire, not forgetting that both are suspended in mid-air. We are mistakenly trying to fill an existential void with careers, vacations and, yes, relationships. Sliding screws in holes meant for bolts. That void in me was only exemplified because I correlated it to my loss.

Towards the end of his book, I am a Strange Loop, Pulitzer-winning author (for another of his works, Godel, Escher, Bach) Douglas Hofstadter talks about his late wife Carol’s consciousness being intertwined with his; about how her essence hauntingly lingers. As though they had created a consciousness separate from either of theirs, wherein they harboured shared dreams for their children. Poignantly worded, that endearing segment seems to speak of a “mingling of consciousnesses”. Carol Hofstadter never really left, it silently screams.

I was only concerned with how I felt, not how she did

The existential void cannot be filled with love, not the restless kind anyway

The existential void cannot be filled with love, not the restless kind anyway


Let us face it — I was no Indiana Jones to know with absolute certainty that Anya would show up. Moreover, my mind was only fixated on me. I was only concerned with how I felt, not how she did. 

I was wrong to have so cruelly erased Anya from my mind. Perhaps she was too ridden with anxiety to leave home. Maybe she caught a glimpse of me and did not like what she saw. I could have spared a thought for her, if only for a split second. 

Bypassing our personal Kanchenjunga, we scale Everest. That is the power of unconditional love. Being in proximity to the ones we covet is unnecessary. Long-distance relationships can fare better than torrid affairs that fizzle out prematurely. That saying “If you love something, set it free…” Struck a chord? 

Meanwhile, the female albatross waits patiently, in love, for her love. 

The truth will set you free, they say. So will love. Love that encompasses waiting like Nandi.


Rohit Trilokekar is a novelist from Mumbai who flirts with the idea of what it means to love. His heart’s compass swerves ever so often towards Kolkata, the city he believes has the most discerning literary audience.

Last updated on 23.10.22, 01:59 PM

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