The night is pleasant with absolute silence except for the occasional disturbances of a faint audible sound of the songs from the nearby theater or due to the dogs barking, irritated by the cool wind. Everything, including the massive concrete buildings, age-dark rocks are glimmering in the silver color due to the radiant moonlight. And the vast expanse of the sky is densely studded with the stars as if decorated at the function hall or painted by an experienced artist to present it for the Valentine’s Day.
The wind, just as it is on seashores, is filled with moisture and is irritating. There is often a cry from owl or any nocturnal bird, as if complaining of the cool wind. Except that, everything is calm and still.
Among the cluster of the houses, there is still a speck of light presumably form the room of young boy or a girl perhaps packing the gift or writing the letters to their beloved ones for the next day.
And I sit here, in the twilight of the night bulb, thinking about the incoherent memories of the life. There was a singular project in my life, which was yet to be solved. Several times, I used to think over and over: “What is the meaning of the Love? I referred many dictionaries for the meaning and asked most of the people, but their answers would not satisfy me. Then, I would frame several theories myself but of no use. I presume that the one who defines the Love will be the philosopher greater than Aristotle or Socrates. Each theory I spun would fail in one or the other aspects in my own affair. When the theory runs that the love is passion for the Beauty, it would fail because I loved her because of her character and the power of understanding. And when the theory states that the love is a strong feeling, I defy it, for my feelings towards are tender and gentle. Similarly, all the theories fail because I was in the extraordinary case. The particulars of the case date some six years ago with several instances how I was trapped in it:
The first instant is common among the schoolboys – that day, four of my friends were sitting in the adjacent row of the class, as the English teacher was on leave. We were discussing about various points. Meanwhile, one of my friends called me aside and told me that he loved a girl; his cousin and that she had accepted the proposal. Then he asked me if I loved anyone -I did not answer him but just laughed at him saying that we were too young yet to love. That experience had a serious impact on me and I was left but to think of the matter over and over and reach the conclusion.
In the evening, the boy put me the same question, forcing the answer from me. Although, I confess, several other boys had asked me the same question previously, that day I was enchanted by that theme due to a mysterious cause. On my way home, I was in other world, brooding over the topic. Suddenly, a bright idea flashed and that left me both happy and anxious. I wondered whether I could ever win in that ‘Game’.
* * *
Several days passed after that experience. I attended the inauguration ceremony of my uncle’s house. There was as usual, sacrifice of sheep there and the blood was flowing like a stream. I, unable to watch the bloodshed, (I was blood fearing little kid then!) slipped away from the place and went in the basement to find an isolated place there. As I neared the door, I heard, to my amazement, a faint sound of a girl crying. Spontaneously, I slowed down, walked slowly up to the door and looked curiously in ….
My goodness! What I saw there stopped my breath for a while. In the dim corner of the basement, in its dust, for it was not yet cleaned; there sat my beloved, my own beloved – Her very self! There, she was sitting on a discarded stool and was leaning against the wall, with tender fingers of her hand wiping off the tears. Her face was marked with gloom and eyes gave a peculiar swollen look. In spite of all these, she was still beautiful as a fresh flower in the twilight of the early dusk and her tears looked like glazing dew drops still dripping……………
I ventured a foot forward and mustering enough strength, said: “Uh…mm…Excuse me, what makes you sit and weep in such a dark corner?” (But I wanted to say “what ails thou my love?”)
Probably, she had not noticed me, so, she suddenly gave a start, and looking in my direction, said: “Nothing much”, she was trying to control her tears, “Nothing much important. I just wanted to be alone – Have they finished the slaughter yet?”
“Not yet”, I said, repenting for having given her such a shock – “they are yet skinning it. Oh! Do you mean that you came here unable to see the slaughter?”(“God sent you here my Love”, I wanted to say) I felt happy that our minds had a sheer coincidence for I had also come there with same intention.
“No, no”, She said, trying to laugh, her cheeks still glistening with the tears and her lips moistened with grief – “I had nothing to do with the slaughter – I just walked over here, feeling bored.”
“Ok ok then, I can see that you are crying” I said. (It was an awkward query I think)
“No, not crying”, She said, “I’m allergic to newly painted house”, But there was something unusual in her manner that showed that she was concealing something.
There was a patter of footsteps from behind and her mother, my aunt, entered. She, glancing over to her daughter, laughed and said to me: “She is always the same – kill the mosquito there and she starts crying!” Approaching her, she said “Why ma, why to weep over such a small thing? Give it up and dress yourself now.”
‘No ammi, she said, hiding her tears for I was the third person there – “I just can’t stand the slaughter.”
Aunt reckoned her out, leaving me alone. However, I was convinced that her heart was more sensitive than her tender face was and felt very happy that God always weaves the Beauty’s heart with so much tenderness and care.
* * *
I was there, busy, supplying water or food or anything I got, amidst the great hustle and bustle of the lunch being served. Three batches of people had already completed their lunch on the neatly arranged tables, on the terrace.
The sun had already begun to step down from its zenith, which formed gray shadows that seemed to mock at each other, as though coordinated by the joyous splendor of the ceremony. I was equally happy, or rather to say, much happier than others for I’ve had an encounter with Her that day. Her voice, her laugh, her tears, her face – flooded back again and again to my mind and that lifted me above my capacity to work.
I was still in same spirits and my heart mingled with marvelous music of her tender-lilt voice. I was hardly myself when I heard someone calling my name aloud. I turned back to see her mother, holding a bunch of flowers with one or two roses in them.
“What Mami?” I said, stepping forward.
“Take these flowers”, She said to me, a bit concentrating towards me for she was preoccupied by others – “Take these flowers down and hand them over to –[her name]- you will find her in one of the rooms. Also tell her to come here.” So saying, she turned, engaging herself again in conversation.
I was taken aback by her words that The Lord should have helped me so soon. Then I said to myself – “When God gives, he bores a hole in the roof;” the precept our Principal used to quote often. I glanced at the flowers with the feeling of compassion that these were the first delegates in my affair and, without a second thought, walked down excitedly.
As I reached the room, I felt enthralled with the sense of adventure – rather to say the mission of handing over the flowers to her given by her mother. I searched for her in both the rooms but she was not there. So, I walked up the kitchen and found her there. I went forward stepping heavily to attract her attention to which she turned towards me and smiled – Ah! What a smile! How beautiful were her Doe-like liquid eyes! They radiated sympathy, love, affection, and all other synonymous qualities…. I stood there enchanted by her majestic appearance.
“Excuse me?” she said, apparently bewildered by my pause.
“Uh…these flowers..”, I said, handing over the flowers and speaking rather hastily – “Mami told me to pass these to you and she said that you are to go there.”(“These flowers are for you my love, as my reminder!” I wanted to say)
“Called me?” she asked, “where?”
“To the terrace” -I said.
So saying, I went out, but still, she was in my mind. Although she did not find it odd that I had just passed the flowers from her mother to her, I had a different feeling. As a matter of fact, nobody pays much attention to such things (I think that she might have forgotten all about that incident) but that conveyed entirely a different meaning to me.
* * *
I had a habit of collecting the Proverbs and Quotations wherever I could find. I went to libraries to write the proverbs often. In this way I had collected a great deal of them in a book. When I first showed her this collection, she showed much interest in it and she added the proverbs she had known, to my collection.
This act of her made me more active in collection. This habit, eventually, led to the poetry: ‘Love taught how to compose the verses and rhyme them’. In this aspect, I ardently believe in the age-old maxim: “Everyone is a poet while in Love.”
There was an Annual Day Celebration of her school and I went there. There was another girl from our class who came to the function. By chance, my beloved became acquainted with her and they spoke well.
Of this acquaintance, I weaved my first verse -“that evolved out of my Love for her – with the title: ‘Four Hour Friends’. That poem was not more than a child’s rhyme, but I adore it the most. I believe that The Love is Mother of Poetry and Poetry is the Necessity in Love. I sometimes wonder if I would have learned to frame the verses even if I had not had this affair. – No, it is impossible! The fact is that: ” I owe my poetry to her.” It is no doubt that I write the poetry but in reality, there is someone, who is endeavoring to make it up. She is sitting silently, whispering me noiselessly the art of spinning it. And it is crystal-clear that everyone looks and admires the rich craft and workmanship of the building but no one admires the strength of the foundation – the real strength behind it! That is, my Friend, the limit of our eyes –
When I showed her the poem, she glanced over the paper swiftly, and turned to me:
“And so it is a next step in your life”, she said, smiling elegantly, “after proverbs, that you’ve learnt to rhyme.”
“By His Grace and your inspiration”, I said.
“My inspiration!” she exclaimed, because she did not know that the real strength behind it was herself! I was guilty to reveal my feelings to her because she was senior to me. On the other hand, she spoke to me as one speaks to a brother, and this had a grave impact on me.
Thinking all these, my face fell staid. Noticing this, she said: “Sorry, if I had hurt you.”
Here – what an odd girl! How could I even think that she could hurt me? “I am not hurt”, I said, coming to the point, “But thinking of my goal out.”
“Goal of…” she began to say something. But I cut her short saying, “Goal of writing about you.”
She thought that I was just kidding and laughed – “D’you want to be a failure by writing on me?”
“Not a failure”, I said, in high spirits thinking that I was on right track, “it is the way of my success.”
In fact I was so excited that I would have revealed the fact to her, had not the feeling of being junior suppressed me. She was about to say something but her mother called her and she went but her voice was still echoing all around and speaking of her elegance.
Several days later, I visited her house and now I felt that my position there was entirely different in contrast to the time before my feelings concerned her that I used to be talkative and free, but now, I sat like a mute; centering my thoughts on her.
When she passed twice or thrice, she was so close to me that I would have called her and spoke but my own guilty feeling of tormenting the Beauty like her subdued me. She came over after sometime and asked why I was so grim.
This, I thought was the best opportunity to reveal my feelings to her. So, trying to come to point, I said – “I am thinking of the secret between two.”
“I didn’t get you”, she said.
“I’m preoccupied by the secret affair between two”, I said again, “Which is embraced by one and not known by the other.
“Could you please make yourself more precise?”, she said. It was evident that she did not have even a speck of doubt that I was in love with her. She spoke in the tone of a sister – the feeling, the voice, which made my conscience guilty again. It occurred to me that it was not right for me to torture a school going girl. But my love for her stronger than all these rules! This is the touch of love – that too, of a Beauty like her!
These affected me and I was silent again.
“What is the secret?” she spoke up again, “And between whom?”
“One is me”, I said slowly but firmly, “and other can be imagined.”
“I am not so wise to guess”, she said, putting up a false claim on her wits, “It is better if you say it.”
“And best if you imagine”, I said rather boldly.
“A hint at least?” she said.
“Here”, I whispered, handing over the piece of paper (which I had written earlier), “this might help you.”
She stared curiously at the paper and me. Heaven knows what she thought of it or what she had a suspicion in it, she stood up and walked away, saying: “I’ll be back in a minute.” I was left but to stare her disappear into the room. I felt that I had hurt her acutely and I should stop that – but my mind won’t listen! I was so much in love with her that the thought of leaving her would never take the shape anywhere near me.
After an hour, she came out, as though she had forgotten all about it. She was in the same manner as she was in before. All that day, I did not have the heart to give the letter to her again. In the evening, I tore the letter and threw it and she, seeing it, smiled at me (same elegant smile of course).
Two days later, she was to leave for another town to attend the funeral ceremony. For this, they hired a car and fortunate as I was, they offered to drive me back to my house and luckier as I was that my beloved would also come with me along with my sister.
We sat in the rear seat and I had another chance that I sat beside her. I was determined to reveal my feelings to her, but I did not enough courage to do so. So, I wrote the phrase – “I Love you” on the palm of my right hand and showed it to her (the same old damned technique you might think!)-
I did not assume that she would react so much to that. She gave a violent start and I thought she would cry. But thank God, she did not do it. Her face was so much affected by it that she sat still for a long minute.
I was ashamed to look at her face. So, I sat looking through the window although my mind was totally in her. After a long time, when I looked at her, she smiled in the same elegant way but with higher composition of sympathy and pity just as a sister looks at the brother who had done a meek mistake. But I was not myself then – I was blind with love for her – my mind was stacked up with the fancies and doubts whether she would accept my proposal or not.
Then, I said in whisper – “Sorry if it had hurt you?” (Just as a formality though)Perhaps she did not listen to it and so, I repeated it again to which she just laughed at me as if telling me to keep quite. I took the hint and kept quiet for the rest of the journey.
When she departed after dropping us, I said to my brother – (indirectly to her) – “it’s very good, isn’t it?” To that she let a deep sigh and gestured me to be silent by placing finger on her lips and left.
* * *
After my seventh class, I joined for Eighth in her school. For the first two months, I was passive because I was afraid to talk to her in the school for some mysterious reason. By and by, I got used and began to talk to her alone in the L.K.G., classes as the teachers rarely visited those classes. Those were the classes! Ah! How precious they were – even now, when I visit the school, I never fail to spend two minutes in those classes.
Even then, I was hesitant to speak; so, I adopted the way of sending my messages through letters – ‘Bills’, as she called them. Not that I stopped talking, but most of the words went to her through my ‘Bills’. (Because I could express my feelings better in writing than in words) I did not have the heart to hand them over to her. So I got one of my friends, D*******, to pass the letters. But this method did not work as she, in the first place was little hesitant to my letters and secondly, she did not like the letters being passed by a third person. So I adopted the best alternative: I borrowed books from her (I never read them though), and in the books, I kept the letters and handed them over to her. I do not know whether she read the letters or not, but I sent them continuously and with the same sincere heart.
One year passed thus and there was nothing worth telling in that – but one point, that I had a chance of seeing my beloved every day. To this, I was happy and thanked the God every time I saw her.
The next year came out with many instances that had a long lasting impact on my affair. Now that, I got used with her and spoke her freely, I was yet hesitant to converse with her in an open place. So, I conveyed her all my opinions through the ‘Bills’ passed through the books.
Two months went like these and then the evening classes started for them. I used to sit after the school time in the class, anticipating her, and sometimes, she would come there for a short encounter. We would sit there, under the evening sky and humid atmosphere – just hid from the sky by a small ceiling formed by metal sheets supported by the cement pillars on four sides. Our class was situated in the separate block from the main school and so it had an opening on three sides and the other side was covered with the bamboo strips only to support the blackboard.
The crimson rays of the setting sun would pour lavishly on the surrounding trees, glazing them with majestic blood-red hues, arousing a suspicion in me whether I was in dream. The sunlight, escaping through the gaps between the bamboo strips, would fall on her splendid mane and the orange light spots on her reminded me of a splendid doe. Her eyes reflected all the light and they would radiate like two romantic gems in the room. The gentle breeze from the trees would stroke her golden tresses of drifting hair and the forelocks would jump from one side to the other as if happy with the breeze and her sleeves would flutter slightly when she raised her hand to set her hair………
I would sit in the opposite bench to her, talking on various topics. The time would pass swiftly as though being pushed forcibly forward by the hand that felt jealous and envied my talking to her. Sometimes, she would remark: “Look at the evening trees – what a beauty they have!”
“But their beauty has limits”, I would say, nodding “the real beauty lies in the things that are beautiful forever – or at least for a considerable span of time”, thinking of the beauty she had in contrast to the flowers which would whither next day.
Once she said- “See this flower; How beautifully it is made”, handing out a flower to me. I was spell bound at her words and was in dilemma whether to admire the flower or her beauty. At last, I said: “As a matter of fact, I don’t like the flowers…”
“You don’t like them now”, she said, as if correcting me, “but in the future, the flowers are utmost necessary to you, boys.”
“But I don’t need them”, I said, “For they have reached their destination already.”
“Make the destination more effective and better.” She said, laughing at my remark.
“There is no destination better than the present one.” I said.
Such conversations were frequent. It was one of her abilities to speak in a way as if she had known nothing about my affair or me. Sometimes, she focused on the typical teenage topics. It was thrilling to hear any topic she would choose because she had a technique of presenting any theme in amusing manner.
Eventually, I was much fascinated by her and lucky as I was; she came daily for the last ten days before her examinations.
The year passed on momentarily and the time came when she had to leave the school and there was yet an year for me to study there. It was the last day of her stay and on that day, I confess, I realized reality of the love. That was the day; I saw my love in its real form. I had nothing but to stop my tears. My heart was heavy with sorrow; I had as much grief enclosed in me … ah! It was heavy enough to balance the earth and heavens – it seemed!
It took me whole a month to recover from the ‘catastrophe’ and get used to the ‘lonely’ school. Presently, the year passed away and I felt that the year took a span of hundreds of years to complete compared with the two years with her presence that rolled away in two minutes.
However, as the school was lonely to me, I used to go the class room where I used to sit and talk to her earlier – I would sit there for long time, imagining, recounting, cherishing and feeling both happy and miserable, thinking over incompatible legend and romance that the classroom had witnessed in the previous year. I used to visit the L.K.G., classes often, to speak with the children whom she used to talk and give toffees to; whom she would lift and stroke – I used to envy at these children who had had a chance to be embraced by her – I looked hard and curiously at them as if searching for any traces she might have left on them. Sometimes, I feel that I should have been happier than I am in present state, if I were a small child caressed by her or if my soul was to be removed from me and a part of her blessed-spirit, if filled in me, I would live a happy, contented life. Or if I were made an eyelid of her which blinks to protect her marvelous eyes from dust, or be made her eyebrow which adds to her beauty or be made one of her fingers which help her to fondle her with her mellow hair, or a blood vessel situated near her heart that would be lucky enough to hear her heart beating, forever…. But after all, this is a real life. Dramas, fancies, fantasies are of no use on the stage of our life span. For this fantasy to come true, I pray His Lordship! I pray Almighty – but rightly quoted: C’est la vie’. As I review those memories, I understand the phrase – ‘Love is crazy.’
* * *
Once my friend told me that every task, including the love has some etiquettes – or rather to say – some rules and regulations. But, I am of the opinion that there is no need of any rules and regulations in the love – the most private affair, the man could deal with.
As far as my affair with her is concerned, I’ve never given importance to the public constitution of Love. I’ve always acted as my conscience has dictated to me. As instant – ‘The Modern Love Constitution’ says that the autograph should not be given to her – but, I being a stubborn one have given her an autograph in order to break the Law of the Constitution and present a constitution-less and unconditional love to the society.
Whatever may be the rules – or whether I may be following them, or not, my love towards her is sincere and assiduous. “As far as my knowledge and belief…. ‘Ends any application; but my application of love to her starts: “as far as I remember and judge, my feelings towards her are as frank and clear as a day; and my plans against her are as vague and dark as a delusion” -I have true heart and clear conscience for her and I am the simplest of the simple and she understood that very well. To the degree that I can judge, I never feel to have done injustice to her – except that I’ve proposed her in spite that she was a senior.
I mind justice or not – I always feel happy at her sight – I always like to see her face -now dazzling and gleaming like luxuriant gem, now charismatic and compelling like a fantastic fairy, now cool and calm like bright spring morning….
Always, she is my own – or at least – I am her own – and continue to be her property till my last breath.
Perhaps…. Mercy…. God….
* * *
When I come back from the fantastic dream of romantic tragedy – to my own senses, I realise that I am still sitting in my chair, with pen in my hand that is going on, on its own – as if led by someone who knows more than me about myself! It was nearly midnight, when I got immersed in this dream – and now that I am my own self, I see that the eastern horizon is lined with gray lining and the wild, howling wind has changed into gentle and passionate breeze filled with cool perfumes from the surrounding trees; and sun is sending its first rays as if saying Good Morning to everyone – Yes, this day may be good, remarkably good – it’s going to be the dawn of the February 14th!
Well, I am off; Good Bye! Take care my little one…….
Mohammed Iqlas Uddin,
February 13th 2007,