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"Im telling you Maurice, there is no such thing as true love these
"What do you mean,if there is no love these days, how are people meeting each other." "Listen Maurice, I am speaking here of true love, the stuff that Shakespeare wrote of, the stuff that comprises of sacrifice, of an undying sense of belonging to one another, something that remains constant over time, something that never fades, true love." And so went parts of conversation between a man called Maurice and a brunette, seated on a table of an old fashioned cafe by the setting sun on the rue de rivoli in Paris. As the sipped frothy cafe latte and gently munched on salty preztels the words flew between them, words convey a lot of things. "Love has sold itself, my dear, its no more an entity as sublime as the sun, its a prostitute, it lives by selling parts of itself. In times like these you wonder if you could ever find chivalry like that of Romeo or the selfmutilating grief like that of Juliet.You cannot have love of the sacrificial kind now, if you did, the world would eat all true lovers up, chew them and spit them out to the dogs." "Ah you are an incorrigible pessimist, Maurice. Love still blossoms in humanity, its only that we dont have the time to see it. It does live a short life, it dies everyday under the sound of bustling traffic and cruel workloads. Im sure if we search the streets right now we would find a story of true love just waiting to be told, all we need are two pairs of open eyes and lady luck smiling on us for today." And so the evening went by with the two of them indulging in a passionate conversation about the nature of true love. There were tides and ebbs and plateaus too. Neither won but both did lose, they were lost in the complexity of the subject that they were discussing for they knew they would not be able to sleep until one of them won. A few feet away from them sat a man, possibly in his fifties, dark hair with streaks of grey, a white cardigan sweater and large horn rimmed glasses, a person whom by his appearence you could tell was not one of the locals. He picked up his half full coffee cup and walked up to the table where Maurice and his companion were sitting. "Excuse me monsieiur, madame, I could not help but overhear the conversation the two of you were having. The nature of true love is truly a subject of utmost fascination to people of your generation. I overheard you wanted to hear a story of true love, the kind we found only in the days of
yore, look no further. I have a story that will put and end to your debate." "Ah you are precisely the person we were looking for.Please, please monsieur have a seat.Here help yourself to some coffee. Please tell us your enchanting tale, we are all ears." "It all began when my friend Bill was about nineteen years old. This was when Bill and I lived in a farm in Utah way back in the early seventies. It was a time when the air was pure and water was safe to drink. We went to school, came back and helped our old men on our farms. We worked hard and to get good grades, we wanted to got to a good college. The two of us had big dreams, we did not want to be farmers and spend our lives with chicks and cows. We had our heads up in the sky. As all nineteen year olds do Bill too had his girlfrend. Her name was Rebecca. She was one of the prettiest lasses Bill had ever seen. She had gorgeous red hair that smelt like sherry everytime she walked by. She was a good girl, she went to church, loved America and helped her mother back home. They first met in junior high and sat beside each other in class.Bill would always catch her a seat at lunch time and she would always give him her share of chocolate milk, as she knew how much he loved it. They exchanged sweet nothings and before they knew it they were madly in love with each other, although neither one of them spoke about it or confessed it to one another. But they all found out, after all when love is in the air, even a child can smell it." "Monsieur your story is very intriguing. Please please go on." The man took a few sips of coffee and cleared his throat. "They did not once confess that they were falling in love with each other, fools, but at such a tenacious age what can one do but be a fool. Time went by and a few months before graduation the unfortunate event occured. Bill was at home having his lunch when the phone rang. He lifted it up and from the other side came a voice, a feeble , strained voice that choked at regular intervals. He knew it was Becky, he listened as she told him that she was 'sick', He shivered when she told him she had multiple tumors in her body and that she would be with god within the next few months. He dropped the phone and ran to his room and cried, poor fellow. He did not come out of his room even when his parents called him, it was locked on the inside, the fellow cried himself to sleep that night. As they say all true lovers have their differences, Bill did not speak to Rebecca for the next week. As the prom neared Becky's condition worsened she could hardly move. She spent most of her day writing letters to Bill, letters begging of forgiveness, letters asking for redemption, letters that her mother would
never put in the post box for the fear of rekindling the hopes of Bill. She did not go to school. As the prom neared Bill's anxiety to meet her grew, he would sprint to the phone everytime it rang, he would check his mail daily, but he would never call. He could not stand to hear that feeble, diseased voice on the other side. The prom neared and he somehow heard Becky was counting her last few days. He knew what he had to do. He used up all his allowance and also borrowed a few dollars from his friends and went to the jewellers. He hired a limousine with the money his father gave him for the prom and drove right up to her house. He knew Becky's parents would never let her go out in the condition she was in so late in the prom night he climbed up to the window of her room with the help of a shaky old ladder and knocked at her window. The expression on Becky's face when she saw her Romeo standing on a ladder outside her window was one for the years. She opened her window and they embraced each other. An embrace that solidified the fact that they were one, two sides of the same coin, inseparable, unbreakable and undying. She knew that this would be the last night she would see Bill and she cried. Bill told her to control herself and asked her to summon all her strength to sneak out of the front door and enter the limo parked a few feet away and that he would meet her there. After all every high school student is promised a prom. She appeared a few minutes later to him, wearing a light pink dress, although she looked weakened by all those doses of chemotherapy her eyes still had that radiant glow and her eyelashes still had that sense of mystery that Bill found very endearing. Bill looked resplendent in his rented tuxedo and as the bright moonlight shone on them, illuminating them as two distinct entities separated only by the infinity of space, time standing still for them. That was followed by a ride to the hillside where Bill parked the car at a point where one could see all the lights of our little town." "I must say monsieur, your story is very very charming. Please go on" "Then I stopped and took her hands in mine and told her. "Have I told you lately that I love you, have I told you there is no one above you." Becky blushed as I told her this. She knew I was waiting for a long time to tell her this. She looked at me with her enchanting dark eyes and said, "No man can ever love a woman more than you do, Bill, and I love you too." As I fumbled searching for something in my coat pockets she looked out deep into the horizon. I took it out, a little red box and opened it, inside a shiny ring with diamond atop it. The ring meant nothing to us, what it symbolised did. "Will
you marry me Becky, I want you to go knowing that for once you truly belonged to me. I want you to go as Mrs.William Thatcher, as Bill's wife." She cried for an hour before she accepted the ring. There it was a little shiny thing on her ring finger, the greatest expression of solidarity ever. We kissed each other in the car an spent the whole night talking about the future. She died as Mrs. Thatcher, I spoke at the funeral as her husband, our families did not know each other but were united in an overwhelming sense of grief, grief I did not see as she died in my arms with an eternal smile on her face. Three weeks later I was sent to Vietnam. Was hurt on my knee by shrapnel from a Vietcong landmine." "Mr. Thatcher wake up. You are not in Paris, you are here in the local sanitarium. Stop playing with your cup and help me rearrange these chairs, Everyday I find you in Paris, hallucinating about your dead wife and people wanting to listen to your absurd tales of Vietnam. You are in a ward, for mental disease, now get up and go clean yourself you have hot coffee all over yourself, you did not feel a thing, man are you crazy. Now go clean yourself while I get something to clean your burns." The nurse was helped by two ward boys to get Bill onto a stretcher and to the first aid room. Bill was of course hallucinating that day as he did everyday of tales of Paris and Vietnam and of true love but then we all knew what he said that day was true. Becky was still there her epitaph, a few miles away from the sanitarium, reading in clear letters cut forever on hard marble,"Becky Thatcher, wife of William Thatcher, died on a summers day, died, alive." True love never fades even if it grows among insanity and disease.
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