I was leafing through a magazine when a tall, middle aged man in scruffy clothes walked into the reception of the bank. He stopped in the middle of the room as if he was not sure if he were in the right place or not. He looked at half a dozen people who were waiting for their turn to be served. He scratched his head nervously and then walked out of the bank.
He came back a minute later but this time with a woman at his side. I noticed the difference in his composure. He was confident and the uncertainty in his steps was gone. He followed the woman to a seat and I noticed how snugly they sat together. They talked in a whisper, their shoulders touched and I could only think that they must be man and wife. I watched the man. He was completely at ease and my mischievous mind suggested that the man could only find himself if his wife was next to him. I was there long enough to see them walking to the bank manager's office and during the short walk, I noticed his hand was brushing hers several times, as if to reassure himself that he was safe with her. I smiled to myself and it must have been a very broad one because the man opposite looked at me curiously.
Minutes later, they walked out. The man had his right hand slightly rested on her shoulder and he was speaking softly as they headed for the exit. He was in one of those classic marriages when a man is lost without his wife. I always say that a man's perfect sanctuary nestles deep in the heart of a woman who cares for him.
If any married man cannot find himself in that sanctuary then he would find himself in a long tunnel of darkness without end. A man may have a tough shell but he also has a soft interior only his wife knows how to reach it. My grandmother used to say a man is like a coconut. You only have to crack it open to expose the softness within. Whenever I see youngsters of today, I see the shells of young men getting thinner but young women have no intention of cracking them open. They don't want to touch the tenderness because they are too occupied with themselves.
I know of a retired banker who lost his wife a few years before retiring. He smiles and cracks jokes when he sees people but friends who know him well would tell you he has not been himself since he lost his wife. His eyes are a dead giveaway.
There is a void in his heart because the shell that was cracked open by his wife is wasting away. On the other side of the coin, young married men show social aggressiveness not because it is in their nature but their young modern wives do not bother to create that sanctuary in their hearts for their men.
It is a different world we live in, these young women would say, but you and I know it isn't. They now choose the world of social media, touching the electronic keyboard of their mobiles to the wee hours of the morning while their young husbands sleep, uncared for.
Marriages are now a social obligation but loveless. No wonder I find the middle aged couple in the bank so interesting. Young married people walk together as if they are strangers. There is no intentional brushing of hands or the subtle touch on the shoulder that keeps the marriage alive for many years.