A Matter Of Custom

We were as different as two people can be, with different approaches to life, culture and religion but at the centre of it I felt you would always be true to me, and so I opened the door to my heart and let you in. Love can be like burglars don’t you think? It can steal up on you and possess you without a sound; presence unnoticed until you discover happiness is no longer possible on your own.

We were chaste, because you said it must be so: 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 some consequences of this custom I did not 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 past happiness until, bruised it must be said, I realised that “Life, humorous and pitiless,” had played a trick on me and I must move on if I were ever to breathe 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,

“Darling Meera,

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 genuinely felt but not necessarily right, and the feelings I had and have for you are both 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.



About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Matter Of Custom

  1. Perhaps next time don’t come on so strongly, ha, ha!


  2. This is both beautiful in its melancholy and powerful in its undercurrent. A sad tale of promises outweighing reality, and yes, what seems right ain’t necessarily so.


  3. Always intriguing and always looking forward to the next one!


  4. ksbeth says:

    as much as he wanted to change her reality, it was her reality, just as his was his. and still is. (

    Liked by 2 people

  5. bloggeray says:

    Even as I was reading the paragraph where we know she was engaged already and won’t go against her parents’ wishes, I thought this must be an Indian character. And so it turned out later.
    Sometimes we convince ourselves hat we have moved forward, so to say, but it only takes a single recollection of the past to shatter our pretenses.
    Beautiful and tragic both. 👏👏


  6. See Below says:

    While reading this, I was reminded of a female friend who actually had the same thing happen in her life. (Crazy customs) 🙂


  7. I suspect he never will. Life isn’t always fair is it.


  8. djpekky says:

    That was beautiful and very life-like.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. nelle says:

    Quite an exploration Peter. I love this one.


  10. Nicely written, Peter. As much as we say we wouldn’t care about social norms, we do.
    Sometimes we make decisions for others too.

    “Life, humorous and pitiless,” had played a trick on me and I must move on if I were ever to breathe again and so I did.

    And so we probably all did.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.