Love Story

Of the young one…

Aashish Singla
Written in year 2000

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Those days, love was in the air. A wave came and swept the city with the effervescence of eternal love. Every moment, someone was falling in love with someone or something at every place. Even that fellow with crooked nose found a lovely girl to fall in love with. Markets and parks were full of people, as if a festive season were going on. Girls, all over, were buying, borrowing, consulting and reading "Mills and Boons" while boys could be seen carrying Eric Sehgal’s "Love Story". Throughout the day, people perambulated on the roads with their beloved, reciting verses, smiling and throwing loving gestures at every other soul. Those were dreamy days! Everyone was dreaming - strangely enough, dreams were getting converted to reality too. The whole city became a living dream where love lived; love ate; and love only slept. How could I have managed to escape the love epidemic that the entire city had contracted? I too fell in love. Imagine how miserable it is, for a young lad of sixteen to be overtaken by a passion so forceful and real. I was a young dreamer who wove dreams all day and night fatuously, and they carried me so far away I almost saw myself holding the delicate hands of my cherished one, asking her to be mine forever. I wanted to be secretive about my affair but my "loss of sleep" revealed everything to my mother. To find her teenaged boy in love, surely any mother would be surprised, shocked, happy and over-cautious, all at the same time. She sat at my bedside making all kinds of inquiries. Seeking her support, I poured out my heart in front of her but hearing me, she fell into a fit of laughter, which could be stopped only by joint efforts of my father, brothers and sister together. I tried hard explaining to everyone in my home about the reality of my love. But alas, no one believed that someone, that too in such a tender age, could fall in love with a language. Unfortunately, I had fallen in love with English (and not a girl). My misery was enhanced by the fact that English was not my native language. Innumerable girls were continuously falling in love with me everyday while I, smitten by the arrows of a foreign language, would pass leaving them unnoticed, drowned in my own world of dictionaries, thesauruses and Rapidex English speaking course. I wanted to read all the English literature that existed in the world; I would have jumped from the first floor to get a hang of Shakespeare’s plays; I could die to be able to go to London once, the city of English. I bought inexhaustible books from the market that promised to make you perfect in English in shortest time possible. Unavoidably I fell in love with each of the books too and the whole day, I was seen carrying one of those close to my chest, hugging it as tight as I could. I dispersed all the books on my bed like a sheet and slept amid them; over them; among them; with them. Not for a single second could I bear separation with my beloved language. My mother started to get worried for my eyes, fearing to think of her lovely young son having to wear spectacles. I entered into the membership of every public library around and would spend all my days standing between the plexus of almirahs filled with all kind of books. My joy was boundless to find myself between a myriad of books. For the first few days, I could

not settle on a single book. I kept running frantically from this bookshelf to that, wanting to lay my hands on each and every book at least once. I took each book in my hands, looked at it with love-tears in my eyes, savored it with my hands, nose and eyes; and vowing to make it mine one day, kept it back in the book shelf. I was an ardent fan of Fyodor Dostoyevsky one day; would hear of none other than Salman Rushdie on the next; could draw swords for George Eliot on the next and so on. My beloved was a diversified lady (or language; anyway it was everything for me). Whenever I encountered a new facet of hers, in the form of a new word or phrase, I felt hurt and lovelorn. I would bend on my knees and ask her to be mine with pure heart, with no hidden aspects. I remember walking into the library one day, advised by a friend of mine to spend more and more time with dictionary. He told me that "words" were the ornaments of my beloved, and the day I knew how to adorn her best with those, she would be mine. I picked up the irresistible Oxford dictionary with a lovely red cover and a glowing countenance. As I was taking it towards the chair, I chanced to have a glimpse upon Merriam Webster and I instantly fell for it too. Somehow managing those two books, I managed my walk towards the table and finally sat down with my head and knees in-between them. Those two beauties had all my attention and I was all praise for them. I would open a page of a book at random, look at the printed words admiringly and then with a light touch, move my hands all over the page; then would do same with the other one. Hours had passed when I finally managed to get the process of learning started. I chose a word haphazardly and tested my knowledge against its actual meaning. To my utter dejection, I discovered that I was so close to an illiterate. I tried simpler ones, and my hit rate increased but as soon as I encountered a bit difficult one, I could not answer it correctly. Surprisingly, there were a lot of words which were known to me but I could not pinpoint towards their meaning. It is like this: I knew their feeling and the context in which I could use them but I could not explain their meanings. I was exasperated and I sat with my head on the lap of my beloved, promenading in the valleys of my mind to find out as what stopped me from explaining a word that I knew that I knew. Suddenly, a thought struck me: Expression. And why not, I understood everything at once, there is a problem with my power of expression. But with the sudden discovery of this word expression, came so many other ideas. I remembered the Hindu philosophy saying that this world is just an expression of Brahma; I recalled about my destiny number three as per numerology, which specifies that expression is what I have to learn in this birth. Now I understood why I had failed in making my parents understand about my love; why I always found my lips sealed in presence of the girl whom I had long admired. I was thrilled with the discovery and was on the verge of kissing my beloved when someone nudged at my shoulder asking me to move out as the library was due to be closed for lunch time. I left my treasured ones in the safe custody of my lockers and came out dreaming about my now increasing intimacy with my darling.

Coming out of the library, I was again seized with a feeling of terror as I realized I was not even able to express the meaning of word "expression". I felt unrest in my whole body, I cursed myself and racked my brains, and slowly and slowly entered into the depths of misery. To ease out the tension, I looked out for the teashop nearby and saw that fellow with crooked nose and her prized girl standing near the counter. After exchange of the formalities, I too had a cup of tea while the nosie asked: - "Did you check up on the notice board?" - "No, why?" - "You don’t know, our result is out today." Blood rushed to my cheeks. How could I forget about such a crucial result, being the board exam of Xth class? I grew tense as I asked him: - " Is it there still?’ - "Yes, go on. Your name is on the top, the list being in chronological order. What did he say? Chronological. But isn’t chronological relating to dates? He must be confusing it by alphabetical. And there I went, forgetting all about the result, waiting at the doorstep of the library rubbing my hands, the two words boggling my mind: expression, chronological; chronological, expression. I looked minutely at the lock, which hung at the door of library and gasped as it winked at me. Did it really wink? Is wink the word, I want? This confused me still more and I prayed for Lunchtime to get over. As soon as the library was opened, I flunged myself into the arms of my beloved, who I am sure was waiting as eagerly for me as I was for her. I opened Merriam and started turning its lovely pages till my eyes stuck on the word "Chronology". Its description ran as follows: 1. The science that deals with measuring time by regular divisions and that assigns to events their proper dates 2. An arrangement in order of occurrence Adjacent was the word "Chronological" which was described as: of, relating to, or arranged in or according to the order of time, also: reckoned in units of time <chronological age> I was relieved to find myself knowing more about my beloved than that crooked nose and relaxed a bit.

Now I must make it a point not to forget these words and their meanings. And I decided to imbibe them in my life with whatever approximation or alteration required, if not possible to have them without any change. "Order" was the first thing in the description of "Chronological" that caught my mind and I decided to lead an orderly life now. "Dates" was another but I did not know what to do with ‘dates" right now, so I spared it in a corner of my mind, having decided to look closely over it some other time. Having freshly overtaken by "order", I proceeded to look for "expression" when I found a fresh problem poised before me. I had just now taken an oath of "order" and could not break it by resuming the random browsing of the dictionary again. I took a deep sigh and bravely started from the first page of the dictionary. I well settled myself to start with the first page of the book and go in an "order" until I finish the last word. On the first page appeared "A" and I started reading, learning, imbibing (if the context allowed) the words one by one. As I moved on, I discovered that I had a special talent for the "sinister meaning" words. All the words, which described a distasteful feeling, bad state of affairs, weaknesses of mind, bad health, fears were the ones that I discovered to be most easily assimilated in myself and by now they had started showing their effect too. I read "abandone" and instantly I knew I was the abandoned one. I read "abase" and I felt humiliated. I was slaughtered in the "abattoir"; I was afraid of my beloved being "abducted"; I dreaded "abhorrance"; I had all kinds of "abject" fears. My discoveries "abrased" me slowly and slowly, and I felt "abscess" developing all over my body. I found that I had a vulture’s eyes for such words and unfailingly, my eyes would stick themselves at those words again and again. To straighten my worsening state of affairs and to bring them to "order", I decided to leave my ordering process with the book a bit and turned a few pages. I stopped at "cauterize" and instantly I felt burned while "cavity" reminded me of my toothache and I screamed of pain. I saw people sitting around me looking at me with "categorical" disapproval as I tried to hide myself between the chair and the table. I turned over some pages and came to "Depression" and I promptly gave in to "depression". Torn apart by the cruel lashes of my love, I crawled out a decrepit wreck. I carried myself towards my home, pitying myself, ashamed, abhorred, cauterized, obscured, and abandoned and what not. A surprise awaited me at the doorsteps. I was greeted by hilarious voices as I was informed of my excellent performance in Xth exams. My parents had already arranged a surprise party, and people throwing wishes and loads of gifts soon flooded me. The cheerfulness in air was overpowering. The love was overwhelming especially due to the simultaneous presence of innumerable lovebirds at a place. I soon forgot about my depression and told everyone about my latest escapades with my ladylove. Some people narrated their own past experiences and tried their best to help improve my case. With so much people backing me up, I was fully charged up to make inexorable

attempts towards realizing my aim. After the party was over, the gifts were opened one by one. To my discovery, everyone knew beforehand about my passion as everyone had presented me with best of the books on English. Now, I could build a personal library of my own. I had received novels, books and surprisingly, most of the books were on "writing". Are people expecting me to write? Meee? Anyhow, I slept with all the books in all kinds of combinations possible and was almost choked down by the books falling down on my nose, when my mother woke me up in the morning with a cup of tea in her hands. She grew worried on seeing my room in such a disorderly state and an urgent meeting was called in the living room. All were apprehensive lest I should have gotten myself into some problem and were eager to listen and help me out. I started to explain them about the reality of my love when suddenly I realized that I had struck the right chord. I had gained the favours of my beloved and found the art of expression through her. Infact, to my wonder, everyone sat hearing to me dumbfounded, completely overtaken and fully on my side, vowing to accept her fully in the household. Having found the gift of expression, I went to the library and sat down to write something. Days and days passed, I had written meagerly and beggarly two sentences only when I realized that what had followed "expression" was "impression". As soon as I got the gift of expression, I inclined in my writings to make an impression; writing was invariably getting disposed towards promoting the ego and I had digressed from my earlier intention of consummating my unconditional love. I must write after dissolving my self-consciousness; its "impression" from my writing-self has to be removed. But henceforth, I found myself tied in the perpetual circle of Depression -> expression -> impression -> exasperation -> depression. I was all set to take Arts stream to study English literature in my graduation, when one of my friends warned me that if I did that, I would but enjoy literature all my life. I understood what he meant and, to my parents’ relief, I took the non-medical stream. From then onwards, I was so engrossed in Physics, chemistry and mathematics of my life that I had to bear separation with my ladylove for so many years but only with a promise that she would be mine one day. That love would surely re-blossom and would attain new heights but that would happen many years after when I would sit at my table and recount all the incidents, in the form of a story, which formed the base of this day, i.e. Today.

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