IT WAS WARMTH OF LOVE—warmth of fondness—warmth of enormous pleasure, that drove to the past memories. Life was bed of roses. Although I knew it was the state of ‘falling in love’, state of life’s bizarre moments. I could hear the feeble background created by tambourine—the mixture of tabor and tom-tom—air dancing around me and playing flute. I went to balcony with her LETTER. Whether it was the effect of romanticism that the environment seems to me as an outstanding panorama. Drakes and ducks were swimming in the small pond nearby. The melodious song from cuckoo, added intensity to the beauty.
I opened the letter with lots of enthusiasms. My heartbeats—I lost to manipulate due to undue excitements.
‘My dear love,
You loving letter this morning has come like a ray of sunshine. I hope the keenness in which I’m now suffering of writing this; you are having the same reaction. I’m well and yes! Very contented. I’m craving to see you, touch you, hug you and waiting for maiden kiss. However I know, these are, at the present, an impossible imagination. I haven’t talked about you about my parents. They are just focusing on my education. They never try to grasp my interior feeling. I want to be your better half, that’s all. (My goosebumps appeared)
You know, yesterday I asked my cousin sister Jiya, why a girl of fourteen couldn’t marry? She said that child marriage is prohibited in our country. Raja Ram Mohan Roy had introduced this law. Why? Why he is so ruthless???
I smiled—her innocence words supplemented humor. We two proved that love was still alive in 20th century. I remembered the day- 6th November, 1989 (one year and four months from now)—when I first had a first glance of her in Sonepur fair in Bihar. She was watching birds-parrots probably. Her eyes were stuck to their prettiness. I also pretended to look at those birds—unfortunately my eyes were focused on her movements.
“Poor birds.” She said in a low tone. “Why are they suffering inside the cage?”
I looked all around. There was no one except the green parrots inside the birdcage. Yeah! She spoke to me. I was in paradise.
“May be, this is the result of their past sin.” I said in a quivering voice.
She set her eyes on me for first time. It fluttered.
“I don’t need your opinion. Do your own business.” The voice—this time more bitter than sweeter—however stopped me for a while (either she had spoken to herself). I returned from HEAVEN TO HELL—to the earth.
“Sorry!” I said.
But my apology went in vain. She departed in a hostile way. I was sick as the parrot. I didn’t want to be the black sheep of the fair and so I silently moved from there.
‘Everything is fine here except that I miss you so badly. The song ‘Ye Kahan Aa Gaye Hum’ from the movie ‘Silsilla’ forces me to remember of you all the time. I hope this year we will again meet in the same fair, in the same place—parrot stall.
These days I’m thinking of my marriage. Now I want to tell you something your duties before our wedding.
*I have grown up with lots of care by my ma and babuji. They love me more than their life—selflessly. So, it is the duty of yours to love me in the same way.
*If I will do something wrong-you will forgive me. Yes, you can shout at me for ten seconds but not more than that.
*I’ll consider your parents as mine—and you should too.
*You will accompany to my village-Sitarampur once a year.
*If I’m sick, you should cook till I’m not healthy.
I guessed her magnificence would have been changed slightly after 365 days—but not her juvenile mind. At 14, her brain was analogous to a girl of 10. But I liked that too. I prayed to God, that her love for me would remain immortal.
I remembered. Her images were intact in me for some days. I used to visit the parrot stall—in hope of seeing her again. My eyes were not on the pets. I was searching for her. I didn’t know her name—neither her location nor anything. Her few words ‘Do your own business’ was repeatedly haunting me. No! She was not a brazen-faced lass at all. Girls of 20th century usually don’t open themselves on first attempt. I knew that.
It was fourth day—I was traveling alone to the whole fair, with gloomy frame of mind. Time passed as burden. I thought to forget her and move on with the life. All-of-a sudden I saw her. This time she was eating pani-puri with two other girls. Her laugh brought end to my resistance. I ran to her.
My ‘excuse me’ took away her smile. Her shiny eyes became wide asking ‘YOU! AGAIN?’ She adjusted her glossy hair.
“Can I talk to you for a second? Please.” I was not requesting—I was begging instead.
The other two girls were just observing me in shock probably thinking—‘Who is that guy?’
“Wait. Let me finish this.” She said roughly—that sprinkled salt to my wounded heart.
I nodded and stood to one side.
“Will you join us?” one of her friend approached—not she (it was okay!). But I didn’t want to ruin the very impression of mine so I rejected (also I avoided junk food).
She was eating in hurry—with subdued expression. Thankfully, I got ample time to scrutinize her gorgeousness. Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty four, twenty-five… the twenty-fifth pani-puri finally satisfied her hunger (I heard a feeble belch).
“What?” she asked after washing off her soft and tender hands.
I didn’t dare to say a word. Her two friends were standing couple of feet from us.
“WHAT???” she retorted at full volume.
I didn’t want to slip her through my fingers on our second meeting. It was sink or swim moment for me. With the intention to end my depressed love story with the three words I began with my stammering vocal cord…
“I…I…L…LOVE… LOVE YOU.”
Time stopped for a while! Earth stopped to revolve! And I stopped to breathe!
Her expression changed from second to second. It was difficult to judge—what was she going to respond?
She stood still. And with the final expression of ‘newly-born love’ for me, she started- “I’m only thirteen.”
I smiled. “It’s okay. I’ll marry you after couple of years.”
She was astonished by my style of talking. I overwhelmed her at last.
“By the way, I’m Rajan Raj from Patna-Bihar.”
“How old are you?”
“Three years older than you.” I replied (it didn’t mean that I was her elder brother).
“I’m Debika Ghosh from North Calcutta.”
“What? You are too Bengali?”
She nodded smilingly. I reached to heaven once again.
‘I’m waiting for your reply. You can also point out my duties after marriage—if you like. I hope you will accept my proposal. I want to end this with my present feeling. I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOOOOO MUCHHH. (Ooooo’s and hhh’s added intensity to her love.)
The letter ended with her final heart-warming words,
‘MY DEAR DEBIKA,
Your sweet letter has enveloped me in the sweet fragrance of our love. I got your letter and very much impressed by your sense of duty. Particularly by the line ‘I’ll consider your parents as mine—and you should too.’ You proved to be an intellectual thinker. I’ll love you so much beyond your imagination. However, you should concentrate on your studies equally. Make your parents pleased. They are very loving person for making such a beautiful angel.
Night really seems unending in your absence. Since few days, I am thinking some of past days; when I first met you—proposed with stammering tone and all that. God has written destiny for us. That’s why we met on that day in Sonepur fair.
YEAH! IT WAS TRUE. God is a source of faith and ultimately source of miracle. It could have been only a piece of script—that we met second time and I said all those words. I had never imagined in my life that I would meet someone like this. Every day I—with bated breath—waited to talk with her. We knew each other soon about our life. We met for ten more days. On the day of leaving we exchanged our addresses and then—writing our feeling in the piece of paper.
‘And yes! I appreciate your disliking for Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Because of him we are still not married. But in other sense, he is a great man who fought with Britishers like daredevil. It was him who prohibited sati system, a former practice in which wives were forced to burn alive with the dead bodies of their husband. He is a really great man.
It’s true that distance and circumstance has drifted us apart for present but I know, the day is not far when God will unite us forever.
I strained every nerve to impress her and smiled irrationally. I was happy. Why not? A seventeen year old boy—had fallen in love. Our love grew with the passing months. We were craving to see each other. Time was passed by remembering ten days in Sonepur fair million times. I used to see her in dreams many times—making the moment awkward.
‘Before ending, I also want make out some points (basically three) before our marriage.
*You too have to forgive me instantly, if I make any blunder.
*If my mood—for some other cause—swing, you must make some delicious food and serve me.
*and last—you should love me with the help of kisses all over my faces every day.
Give my regards to your entire family. Take care of yourself. I am counting the days when I will see you (after exactly seven months and two days).
I bet, I love you—more than your love for me.
Reply soon as your letters provide me a great emotional support.
THE TRUMPETING OF ELEPHANTS AND NEIGHING OF HORSES—together shoved me to real life of present. Life was once again in the same place—where I had experienced some new feeling. Seven months went by—as seven long years. The day arrived to initiate my love story. I was within an ace to see her. But clock was running hurriedly. I was waiting for two hours but couldn’t see her. My ears conditions were rotten by listening the chirping of the birds. I didn’t give-up. God was testing of my patience. Temper too added somewhat. Finally, I resigned for that day.
Why? Why she did that? I thought to slap her continuously. The wrong thinking of her escaped my tempered mind for few more seconds—but then, I remembered my promise. I forgave her.
Next day, I went to the same place in the crowded fair. India—the second most populated country—Sonepur fair was the proof. But it was the same as yesterday. I waited and only waited. I went everywhere, to every stall, to every place—finally to pani-puri stall. But all went in vain. I wanted to cry—to shout at myself. I took forty winks under the shade of tree. When I opened my dried eyes the atmosphere was turning reddish. Only one thing left for me—to pass the examination of patience.
Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven and twenty-eight… no I wasn’t counting the pani-puris as previous year. I was counting days. Time hung heavy in the fair. The last day—with the last hopes I went to Sonepur fair. But she was nowhere to seen. I threw myself to God—the source of miracle. But he too threw cold water upon my appeal. I found myself difficult to breathe. My lungs were burning in the fire of disappointments. The twenty-seven days in Sonepur fair made me frail. With loosened pocket, half-shaved face and depressed mind I returned—gave-up my hope, gave-up my love.
But why? Might be she was ill. Or her parents restricted her from going outside. Or might be—she found someone else better than me. I wanted answers. I could only get that from her letter. I was eager to tell her that I hated her very much. She broke my heart. So I wrote. Wrote in extreme anger. Reminded her promises, her duty…
Arrange marriage is better than love marriage. Love marriage, particularly in country like India is always a full of struggle. We have to convince the girl’s parents. Then to ours. Sometime it takes long to succeed, and then something worst happens.
I didn’t get her answer. My eyes lingered for the postman—for days, months and years. Nothing I could do—I wasted my breath indeed. I made oath to myself that I would never fall in any relation ever. I wiped my tears and burned away all her letters. It pleased my injured heart. I hate her… I hate her… I hate her…
IT WAS TWENTY SECOND YEAR of my life. I completed graduation and got a job in a Bank. Life was running as Mikha Singh. My fast life made me a sincere and responsible for my duties. I was once again happy—enjoyed my life by touring places—exploring beauty of nature.
“What are you waiting for? It’s the right time for your marriage.” Said one friend of mine.
I didn’t reply. Someone’s thought struck.
“I’ll marry only when I’ll get my answers.” I said after pausing.
“Nothing.” I said, said in serious tone. “Nothing.”
And then I set-up my mind to know the answers. What guilty I did, that I got so harsh punishment? What about the promises, she made? Did she find some another guy better than me?
To get the answers of all these, only one alternative left; to visit her home. Yeah, I knew her address, in which I used to send letters. I almost forgot her look, her description and voice. But I wanted to take another chance. Not to forgive; but to know answers which was the greatest mystery of my life—that obsessed me for years.
I REACHED MANIKTALLA through a direct bus. The address I remembered, P.K Saha road, near Roy Gas Agency, house no. C/23. Yes! I was a man enough to clear the bundle of obscurity.
Hiring taxi—with couple of U-turns—I reached my destination finally. I was going to see her after five years—one thousand-eight hundred and twenty six days exactly.
It was an old house—with a small ignored garden, which were covered by wild weeds. But it was her home. Old memories approached. I knocked the door.
Someone opened—not her—a young girl of 17. Her looks was lots of similar to Debika. She might be her sister. I came at right door—I thought.
“Does… anyone named Debika Ghosh live here?” I shook—my voice trembled along.
“Who are you?”
“I’m one of her college friend.” I lied—only option left in that situation.
She inspected me carefully.
“What is your name?”
My temper started to rise. I wanted to come at right point.
“Is she well?”
“She is well.” She replied, “And enjoying her married life.”
MARRIED LIFE! What? Did she say ‘married life’? I expected something most horrible than that. If I was senior citizen, then I would surely have died of heart attack.
“Wh…WHAT? I mean when?”
“Just one year ago.”
One year ago. By using my mathematical sense I judged she married at twenty-one. So early! Everything became clear. She had never loved me. She found someone decent guy than me. I thought not to stand more and started to walk. I soon wanted to leave.
“Wait?” she shouted. I didn’t stop.
“Wait? Are you Rajan Raj?”
Her words increased friction of my feet.
I turned back. She knew my name. How???
“Will you come inside for a moment? I want to talk to you for a minute.”
I was controlling my emotion. I got a greatest shock of life. She came with cup of tea and snacks. The house seemed to be empty.
“I know you very well.” She started. She was beautiful too but I was not in a verge to take another risk.
“What do you want to tell? Please be quick.” I yelled.
“I know why you came here; to know the reasons, why she forgot you suddenly? To know why she did this to you? I knew one day you would come to get answers of all these.”
I looked at her suspiciously. She knew everything about our relationship. Might be Debika had told her.
“You had met her in Sonepur fair—you impressed her and then both of you fell in love. For approximately one year you both contacted each other through letters.”
I was dumbstruck.
“Who are you?”
“Diya, her cousin sister.”
“So? So what? I hadn’t forgotten my poor story.”
She looked down and took time—I sensed she was something hiding from me.
“She hadn’t loved you, it’s true. Absolutely.” She said.
“I knew Miss. I too.” I said tetchily. She was playing with my temper.
“But the person who wrote those letters was someone else.”
My brain got baffled like hardest game of Sudoku.
“Then who send those letters?”
She paused—looked at my eyes—then looked down.
I was expressionless along with motionless for few seconds.
“WHAT?” A big ‘what’ from me.
“Yes! It’s true. I wrote to you every time.”
“But how? And why? I didn’t know—neither had you known me.”
She took a deep breath.
“I along with my friend went together with Debika in Sonepur fair. There I saw you first time. I saw you proposed her and impressed by your bold attitude.”
I tried to search in past. Yes! She was there with Debika and her friend enjoying pani puri. It was she who approached me ‘Will you join us?’
“When she came back come,” she started, “she told me all about you. I was impressed by her love story. I told her to move ahead. But…”
She applied sudden brake. But I knew the sentences after the ‘but’ is usually shocking.
“But you were just standing joke for her all the time. She hadn’t loved you. She told me then, that address—which she gave you was not hers. It was mine.”
I jumped up—couldn’t able to take more twists.
“It means this home is not her? It’s yours?”
She nodded approvingly.
I slowly and slowly cleared the riddles, which was untouched for years. But still, there were lots of queries to clear.
“The day I got your first letter, I felt how deeply you loved her, and she was just laughing. I didn’t want to hurt you—to break your heart. That’s why, I replied in her name.”
My heart was already broken and bleeding without a pause. I thought to cry. Truth is always bitter to swallow.
‘I’m craving to see you, touch you, hug you and waiting for maiden kiss.’
‘I want to be your better half, that’s all.’
I burned away the letters but few lines were embedded as a seeds in a fruit.
“One year ago she married to a businessman of Bombay. They are now staying…”
I cut her.
“Okay! Don’t tell me more about her married life. I believe you. But tell me, why you stopped all-of-a sudden? Why you lied—that you would come in fair?”
She was again stopped for a split second.
“Because of the fear—of the shock, which I thought would get after knowing the truth.”
I took account of her situation. But in the end mysteries cleared—all answers I got at last.
“What is the proof that you are telling me truth? What is the proof that you are not spinning a yarn?”
She stood up and walked to her room. She came and handed me bundle of letter which was actually mine, I got proof. Old reminiscences refreshed.
But what now? Should I hug her for replying me? For telling me the truth? What?
Five years! Five years I had lived a lifeless life—just predicting reasons of her sudden break of love. And I was the STANDING JOKE for her all the years. I saw myself five years ago, standing alone in Sonepur fair waiting for someone. And finally one day, leaving the park with a gloom of disappointments.
I got up.
“Thanks miss—I mean Diya. For all these. I got my answers after long haunting years. Thanks.”
I started to walk but she stopped me by holding my hands.
“Do you know why I have kept all those letters still with me? Because I love you. But I never got an opportunity to express that.”
What a crap! Another twist. No perfect words appeared. She looked at my eyes for few seconds. However the line touched my heart. I had burned away all her letter to ashes due to extreme temper. But she…
My eyes ignored her. I already made-up my mind to take no further risk.
“You wrote that you will forgive me after a few seconds.”
‘If I will do something wrong-you will forgive me.’ She remembered my promises. I stopped. Her line forced me indeed.
“Please! I’m requesting you. End this. You are young and pretty. You will find another handsome gentleman. Forget me and good bye.”
On the spur she ran a little and blocked my way.
“Will you… marry me?”
I was taken aback by her sudden bold movement.
May be all these romances along with twists and turns were written by God. I had to accept the present.
“I’ll think about it.” My voice resigned at last.
She smiled. Tears came of joy—of finding the waited person. Slowly, she came close to me. An unforeseen KISS—quenched my thirst of five long years. That kiss ensured me—I found a right love this time.
This is called strange love story. You love a girl—she hates (you don’t know that)—and when you know the truth about your first love then another comes in your life. And I knew—THE ANSWERS—turned over a new leaf—inaugurated romance in my life once again.