The Rainbow of the Setting Sun Wonder how many of you would have seen the classic movie Fanny released in 1961. It starred Leslie Caron, Horst Buchholz and Maurice Chevalier. It was a love triangle with a difference. In a small sleepy town, a young Adonis-like hero gets what he has aspired for all his life, a sea-farer’s job. It’s a five year contract holding out a lot of promise for the young man. Just as he prepares to leave, the voluptuous young heroin comes running to him to tell him how much she loves him. The young man realises in a flash all the love for her that he kept suppressed deep in his heart. All the pent up emotions for each other explode into some frenzied love making and the young man leaves in pursuit of his career.... Soon the girl finds herself pregnant. An unwed young mother in a conservative town like that is total disaster and the girl is in utter disarray. There is an old but a very kind-hearted merchant in town, who is extremely fond of this girl. He offers to marry her and become the legitimate father of her illegitimate child. The grateful girl accepts his generous offer. Soon the child is born and the old man lavishes all his love on the girl and her son. The girl too gets drawn to the old man in course of time. On one fine morning, the young man returns from the sea and seeks his girl. To the girl, all that old man’s love is something that can be dispensed with. She sees her future only in the company of the young man. She bids adieu, though a tearful one, to the old man. What the old man did for her in giving her a name and her child a father was just an act of compassion as far as she was concerned. Nobody understands the old man’s love for the girl. I saw the picture about five decades ago as a young man of 19. The film cast a tremendous spell on me at that time. I was ready to empathise with the girl’s practical approach and did not see much in the way the old man was jettisoned like unwanted cargo. His anguished look did, no doubt, haunt me for a long time. But today, in the evening of my life, I can understand how that old man, portrayed beautifully by Maurice Chevalier, would have felt. I do not know why but there is a general perception that all the feelings of romance and adventure are the prerogative of youth. No one understands that the passage of time can only leave its imprint on the physical body but not the spirit within. The ruthless march of the seasons may leave the body crippled and immobile to wither in decay but they are absolutely powerless over the undying spirit. ...The rainbow of a setting sun is just as beautiful as the rainbow of the rising sun. There is something soul-stirringly romantic about the setting sun after all the awesome power it wields across the sky during the day. Look at the way a million lamps are slowly lit across the sky as the sun sets. Those glittering diamonds lovingly preserve all the unexpressed romance of the vanishing sun until he is back again. The setting sun and the starry nights have enraptured more poets than the fury of a youthful sun. But alas, the beauty of romance hidden in a man in the evening of his life never evokes any similar feeling of ecstasy in any one. ...Do you ever realise that the chirping of the morning birds, their majestic flight in breathtaking formations across the sky, the pearly drops of the morning dew, the gentle waves caressing the shore, the rolling sound of the distant thunder, and the cascading waters of a mighty waterfall can move an aging man as much as they do the youth to a rhapsody of romance? The raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings and all such favorite things of a young and vivacious Maria can also be the favorite things of men thrice her age. The intensity of feelings is not inversely proportional to age. On the contrary, it is directly proportional. Age may numb the body but not the feelings. ...Next time you meet an old man in a romantic mood, please do not look at the distance he has traveled ahead of you in time but how close he remains with you in feelings.