It had all begun with a click.
Earlier, it was Nokia – connecting people. But for me, social networking proved to be the ‘anchor’ and moored my sinking ship to the sea bottom. Gratitude to Mr. Zuckerberg first, and then of course, to my best friend from the school days.
For I can’t recall how she managed to find me since I was a facebook recluse. A few online interactions later and a sudden thought of checking her friend list, in a bid to find some long lost buddies; I had a chance encounter with the man of my dreams. A look at the profile picture followed a series of flashbacks. A caravan of mesmerising adolescent memories gradually passed before my eyes. I was steps away from the ‘romantic voyage’ I had fancied of. I still can’t hold back my giggles, recalling the blockhead ‘silly me’. How I had sabotaged a serious, genuine proposal!
If it wasn’t for the immense adulation & fondness for Rahat Kazmi, the then famous Pakistani actor in the mid 80’s , who cast a spell on my senses, and which later turned into a major ‘teenage crush’, I would have certainly paid more attention to the ‘letter’ that had arrived , wrapped with a lifelong promise. And I would have been with my Mr. Right almost three decades back. Dam! my crush was the real ‘culprit’ here.
Actors with charismatic personalities and their onscreen presence tend to weave a web of a ‘fantasy world’ around us, where we easily manage to spurn the prospective real world entries.
Therefore, I too, willingly chose to ignore ‘his’ advances, which of course, I regretted years later. However, with a grin and a pinch of salt.
Now, having lived almost half of my life, and he being more of a stranger to me, I still somehow gathered the courage and kicked away the obvious awkwardness of befriending a school senior, who had once attempted to come closer.The Rahat Kazmi of my fantasies was right there.
At this point, all I wished to convey was a ‘sorry’. A simple apology, for not having responded, to what had come to me in the form of love infused words, expressed on a thin sheet of paper, torn from an old notebook.
It was indeed, the curious case of the ‘love letter’. Commencing with an apology message years later, that ‘unanswered’ letter, proved crucial in connecting me to my soul mate. My only link to initiate the awaited conversation.
It was the same letter, that had landed straight into the hands of my father, but had failed to invoke the desired response in my head & heart.
It was probably the summer of 1988. My affectionate and otherwise lenient father, a Superintendent with the Jails, had been transferred to Gurdaspur, a small lifeless town in Punjab, bordering Pakistan. It was his third change of workplace in less than ten months.
The entire episode of the ‘life changing love letter’ had started to unfold on a lazy afternoon towards the end of August. I had just returned home from college. “Here’s a letter for you”, my father handed a blue envelope with a dash of suspicion in his voice and the ‘obvious curiosity’ clinging to it. He was probably waiting for an immediate reply.
The letter was already open, stamped twice and had a visible mash up of addresses, as it had been redirected from Patiala, our previous official accommodation.
Surprise, shock, awe or anger, In fact, none tickled my part of the brain responsible for questioning a potentially embarrassing situation like that. Well! courtesy, my recurring insomnia. I was seemingly drowsy, devoid of a sound sleep for the past one fortnight.
For it was my sister’s wedding and they had all been away shopping. Only my father had come back two days before to relieve me of my boredom & loneliness. And all this while, i was ‘home alone’ with a cook and a jail guard. I had actually been bribed to stay back on the pretext of deriving wholesome entertainment through uninterrupted television viewing. I couldn’t help more but agree gladly.For that matter, i could have enjoyed my freedom cum leisure time since apart from Doordarshan (the then sole source of entertainment), we had access to Pak TV channels, owing to our proximity to the border. However, the sudden demise of Zia Ul Haq toppled my plans and i could not sleep in the fear of being alone and having nothing much to do.
Nonetheless, i had held the letter lazily, gazed at it for a few seconds, notwithstanding, that my father had already been through it. And without any interest, had ceased reading it midway, and was headed straight to the room for my afternoon nap.
That evening was not the same. Something alarmed my senses as i woke up to the realisation that the very letter in which lay someone’s genuine feelings, un urge, a proposal and a question waiting for an answer, had been through my father’s eyes. I was trembling with fear. Amused, afraid and at the same time thinking of ways to avoid him. Encountering him seemed tough.
However, forgetting the possible aftermath for a moment, ‘his’ letter had taken me back into time. It was five years back when i was in eigth standard in the same school. He was my senior, a sought after charming guy. I could only recollect those shy exchanges of glances. Our interactions, however, lacked the spark.The letter also had references from an English play that we did in the school annual function, where had had played the role of my father. All this and much more in hope of a response, for his otherwise bleak chances.
Although unaffected, I was pleasantly surprised to know that I had created a special space in his heart somewhere..
I was 18 when the letter arrived and totally unaware of his whereabouts until then. He was pursuing engineering in Mumbai and I was still all over his mind. Yet, I chose to ignore his proposal. Perhaps, I was too engrossed in my own little world to have pondered over it.
I was the youngest of the four sisters. A romantic alliance & a relationship were far from consideration. Moreover, fuelled by the fact, that my best friend had her eyes set on him and i never assumed myself of being in his ‘wish list’. And by then i had already left the school to move on to a new station with my family..A transferable job and constant change of schools and fewer means of communication leaves you with bygone connections.The nomads of the government set up.
Meanwhile, the essence of that vibrant warmth snuggled in ‘his’ letter went undetected. But to my surprise, my liberal father did not grill, or judge his youngest sweetheart. I had succeeded in convincing him, yes, of course, with a fabricated story. After all, i had to play safe. He too, conveniently ignored.
Interestingly, the very next week i landed in Mumbai with my family for a wedding. And the reluctant I, further quashed the aspirations of the ‘sender’ of that love letter by asking my elder cousin to return it and snub ‘him’.I gave him the letter and forgot about it for the next 28 years.
Mentally consumed and obsessed by my romantic ideals and uncomfortable with the idea of a relationship at that age, i had completely overlooked an ‘emotional investment’ in waiting.
In these nearly three decades of ‘disassociation & distance’ from ‘him’ I carried a notion that I had quite found love, compassion and the man of my destiny, only to realise and comprehend that marrying someone doesn’t guarantee love. I had been married for 20 years with two teenage offsprings before i had found ‘him’ again.
In the past four years of knowing ‘him’ in every way possible, I am proud & content to have found the man, who has healed my wounds, filled every void, respected, cared and understood as any life partner should.
One letter, my disinterest & dispassion, I still laugh and wonder at my indifference and the fact that someone meant for you eventually comes to you.
I may or may not exist with ‘him’ in the worldly terms. Nonetheless, I heartily embrace my biggest & foremost reality. Yes, I have finally found my ‘Mr. Right’.