Love can be like a burglar don’t you think: steal up on you and take your heart without a sound; presence unnoticed until you discover happiness is no longer yours alone to grasp, But life is not always getting what you want, but involves sharing with another whose breath is central to your happiness is it not? We were as different as two people can be, with different approaches to life, culture and religion but at the heart of it I felt you would always be true to me, and so I opened the door and let you in.
Can Love be like an emissary from Heaven, who makes a journey once a lifetime? If you are too busy to receive it, “Love” may leave your side forever, never to return, but I was not too busy, and nor were you I always thought; once we realised that meeting each other was a blessing beyond measure. We were chaste, because you said it must be so and I understood. In your culture, you told me, a girl cannot be familiar with a man before marriage and it was a formality I was happy to respect and understand. I loved the courtly sense of life it echoed but this I did not fully understand.
It seems you were already engaged to be married to a man you had met only once in your mid-teens and this voyage through university was your parents concession to modernity. They would trust you to maintain your innocence until your studies were completed when you would fly home and marry your betrothed, according to their wishes. It was your custom and your culture that this would be so and you made it plain that respecting the wishes of your parents was more important than any private dream or urgency. In a sense, with me, unconsciously I’m sure, you were displaying what could not be offered, and I was banging on the shop door with a currency which would not be accepted.
Neither of us were especially religious, but I discovered that custom and expectations can hold you to a behaviour as much as any faith, and disappointing your parents was not in your lexicon of conduct: your choice could not be personal.
As what you meant to me became clearer and more urgent, you shared the sadness we both felt, but I could only watch you board a plane and take my grief at your parting as the price of my past happiness, dwelt on in solitude, until, bruised it must be said, I realised that “Life,” Humorous without pity,” had played a trick on me and I must move on if I were ever to breath again and so I did.
Two children and a lifetime later I saw you on some Indian TV channel, rounder and more solid, can I say, but clearly still quite beautiful. “Our Political Correspondent” the words read on the screen, and I wondered how “My Meera” had become so serious. When young, what we cared about was literature, and “inner meaning” and integrity and other vapourisms with which students fill their intellects.
I wrote to you, care of your TV station saying,
I do not wish to interrupt your life, but we are both old enough, are we not, to recognise everything our parents told us was genuine but not necessarily right, and the feelings I had and have for you are true and real, and would have value in any culture in any era. Contact me please and save me from myself”
I have not received a reply.