One part love. Two parts work.
A wife uses her skill with drawing to write a love letter to her architect husband, coming clean on what it takes to make a marriage tick
The most ordinary stories about love sometimes appear extraordinary in the hands of a good creator. Bengaluru-based illustrator Alicia Souza's debut book, Dearest George (Penguin Random House) is a quirky illustrated love letter to her architect husband George Seemon. It's the little moments in the book—like when Souza forces her husband to sit on a mat with her, saying, 'Listen! Come with me...I have to tell you something! I have to show!' and begins to sing, Aladdin's I can show you the world, much to his amusement—that make you chuckle.
Souza, who has quite a fan following on social media for her illustrations, where Seemon and their pets, doggie Charlie-Brown and guinea pig Henry-Oats, are recurring subjects, first thought of the book three years ago, when George and she had a court marriage. "A few months had passed, and many people, including friends and family, still didn't know we were married. I wanted to make an announcement, through a bunch of illustrations, on why I didn't want a wedding. It was a surprise gift for George," she says in a telephone interview. The website she put the sketches up on caught on. "We had thousands of people writing the sweetest of notes to us." When she was approached to write a book, she decided to expand on the original idea. "I didn't tell George about it for the longest time. When he learnt about it, he was embarrassed. But it was a lot of fun. I might seem like a corny person, but that's only in the drawings. Our relationship is actually very regular."
Alicia Souza uses drawings and letters to explore the quirks of her married life. Pics Courtesy/Dearest George By Alicia Souza, Penguin Random House
Souza met Seemon 10 years ago, when they were dating other people. They started seeing each other only five years later, and got married soon after. "I am not an overtly-romantic guy or comfortable with PDA. In fact, I can be very awkward. Alicia, on the other hand, is warm, cuddly and expressive, especially at home," shares Seemon, who runs an architectural firm. That also makes them polar opposites. "But over the course of being together, we found common ground and things that we could both relate to," adds Souza. " I always thought I was a fast eater. I didn't realise that George would beat me to it."
Souza says her biggest lesson in lover is that relationships take a lot of work." Like in most marriages, she has had to negotiate Seemon's excessive love for television. "We have very different likes, and schedules. I hate watching TV, but sometimes, I make the effort to do it with him. He doesn't enjoy going out on weekends, but he makes the one-off exception."
Both say that giving the other space, is most important. "You don't need to do everything together. But, whenever possible, we try and spend time," says Souza. "You need to have trust, too. In fact, we share the same phone codes. I think once you trust someone, everything else falls into place," says Seemon, adding, "There's also no harm in being the first person to say sorry. I think prolonging an argument doesn't help. Talking about it, is the healthiest and positive thing to do for a relationship to work. My wife is more mature in this aspect. We have barely had arguments, but, if and when we do, we have resolved it almost immediately."
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