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Haunted Soul - Old Love Story of a Grown Man
Vasu Reddy from Chicago
Having seen some very disturbing movies lately, I thought I needed to write a love story that might be good to read and also something people can believe and perhaps even empathize with. This story is not unusual, but simple and perhaps real to many people. My wish is that some how this will get to the scriptwriters and editors who are making really bad movies, and will make them do simple and realistic stories to entertain the Telugu moviegoers. I sincerely wish that we would once again make movies that entertain and make people happy.
Here is the Old Love Story.
This is June of 2004. It is about 28 years since I last saw her but I still keep thinking of her all the time. When I say all the time is too much emphasis, but every time I think of good things about life I think of her. I was about 16 when I had to stop seeing her, and she was 15. The same that happens all the time in rural India happened to us. My grandpa did not think she was the right girl and got her married to some other guy, while I was writing my last exam for Intermediate. When I returned back to town after my exams I was told by one of my friends that my girl was married that afternoon to someone else. I didn’t react much as I already knew there was nothing more I can do to change what happened. Remember I was in a small town in Andhra Pradesh, where such things were commonplace. I simply brooded with all my friends, all of them who knew that we were meant to be together when we grew up. My grandpa did not say a word, and I did not ask him why?
Our names really don’t matter, as they are same old Andhra names. Our story really doesn’t matter, as it is the same old story of failed puppy love. Our romantic relationship never mattered, as all we did was talk to each other everyday about things we were going to do. As most of you might know by experience it was a relationship that was never going to work. We were too young, too dependent on our families, too immature, too much in love (at that age it must be love) and too naïve.
This story came to life in June 2003, when one of my friend asked me on a meaningless Internet chat were having, “who is your favorite person in India?”
I replied with, “It is not really you”, thinking I was being funny.
My friend asks me, “Then who is it? Where do you rank me?”
Before I go on you must remember that I am a grown man, living in the USA form the very early 1980s, and happy with my life. Nothing unusual is happening with my life, except the fresh memories of my past.
Now going back to my meaningless chat, I said, “There is this girl from my town who is my favorite person, although I have not seen her since 1976. She was married then, in June of 1976 and I simply have not seen her or spoken to her since then. But you are my number 2 favorite person in India.”
My friend was happy about being number 2, and went on to ask me who this girl was that I have not seen in a life time, but still is my favorite person? And there is when I started to think of this “Prema katha”.
My childhood was really more adventurous, which were filled with several private schools, friends, travels, and many plans for future and cricket. Nothing in my plans included life in the USA in my plans for future. I may have wanted to grow up (may be to twenty), get good education (I should really say we not I), getting married, settling down by getting a good job and be with my family and friends.
When I was not in school, we really did not have many plans. She and I don’t think we even thought of the next day until the end of each day. Even then only to ask each other that we will see each other the firs chance we get tomorrow. I don’t remember anything romantic except hang around. We talked endlessly about nothing, and had huge number of friends. We saw a lot of movies. We visited a lot of homes together. I remember that she knew what I liked to eat, and what I liked to do and simply pamper me all the time. Although I was a hot head, and I don’t remember ever being mad once when she was around. As both she and I were not romantic, we simply were together as much as we can, and did nothing that would be difficult for our families and friends. I remember that we were at each other’s homes a lot.
I have to say she was very pretty. She liked flowers. There was this big garden behind her house. We used to sneak into the garden and just hang around, and sometimes have a small picnic. We would sit at the well and just chat about nothing. I was very good at school; she did not much care for school. I was only home for the holidays. I was in a boarding school. But it did not matter as we made up for being with each other in the holidays.
The only photograph I had of her was taken from my desk when I was away from home, and I think on the day she got married. My grandpa might have thought the picture was useless as she was a married woman, and I don’t need any memories of my favorite person. As I said before I never asked him why he got her out of my life. He was generous and kind with my life. Actually he was supportive of everything I did, and was a huge part of my life. The only thing he did that I did not understand is why he removed her from my life at the time he did, and why he did what he did. It made no sense to me then, although I accepted what happened and did nothing about it. You see, whatever the reasoning he had it did not make any difference to me. All I know is even to this date, when I am in India my old friends, and sometimes even their parents speak fondly about my relationship. They still tell me we were meant to be together. They still speak of our failed relationship as if it was yesterday. They still think of her and me as a pair. It makes sense to speak of old times as it does make a good story. Sometimes the guys and myself get enough black label in our systems to really reminisce on the old days. They are all fond of her, as much as I am.
I use the present tense, as I don’t know why I even think of her. I really don’t even know how she looks (I think she must be beautiful now). I really never ask any questions to my mom, friends or family who may see her in town. They don’t offer any news on what happened after her marriage.
For someone who thought was very brave, I am chicken in even asking simple questions such as:
If she is doing well, and has children?
If she ever asks about me?
If she is healthy?
If her husband treats her well?
And many simple questions I should ask. Many times every day I want to ask “Does she ask about me?”
You should know that in all these years I never even asked to find out if she might need me for anything? But every day I fully remember what happened until that day in June 1976. All my friends and family remember my relationship with this girl in great detail until June 1976. But no one speaks of what happened after and what is happening now. My favorite person lives in the same town, and knows everyone I know. Isn’t this ironic? I live far away from where she lives, but think of her all the time. When I go to India or speak to my folks, I don’t ask about her. They don’t seem to offer any details either.
Now that I am happy to admit that my favorite person is someone that I haven’t see since 1976, and more so since my internet friend forced me to choose a favorite person, it is logical for me to explore the reality. The reality of her being married to someone long time ago will remain true and I may never see her in this lifetime. I have time to think of the plans I never made with her now, and really organize my thoughts on what we might have done.
I never kissed her. The closest thing we did was hold hands all the time we were together. She cried in the movies, and to pacify her I just held her hands. She liked holding hands. I still remember how small hers hands were, compared to mine. We just held hands. Nothing like her pinching me, or twisting my fingers, just hold them together. It was nice. We held hands all the time, in public and private. Now when I think of it, I don’t think anyone else did this in my town. This was something special that I did with my favorite person.
We liked to go to the movies. I liked movies, and I am not sure if she liked them, but we went to see movies all the time. One time I remember we had to take four of her other friends with us to a Hindi movie, where a bomb in a jeep blows the heroine away and all five of them started crying. To think of this incident now is not funny, as to how to console five of them was not easy. I also remember it costs a lot of money to buy cool drinks for five girls. We were happy to see movies that made no sense, and we never talked about them except when we went to see them. She was not much into discussion, or speculation as I remember. She was happy to hold hands, and just be together.
I remember walking around in rain. You should remember the monsoon season was sometimes harsh. She loved rain. She loved the smell of rain. She loved to splash. She loved to run around when it was pouring and pull me around. I am not sure if you remember holding hands with someone and swirling around really fast. Especially when it was raining hard, and you are swirling with your favorite person, it was great fun. She loved to be in rain. I keep thinking how many times we got drenched, and it was never enough for her. I remember she always smiled in the rain.
Dasara time in my town was full of big celebrations and had huge festivals. Tens of thousands of villagers will come to town to join the festivities. All the young people hung around and ganged up to go walk around town in the nighttime. She liked to go out with me, and I wanted to be with my friends and her. Sometimes she wanted no part of the rest of the girls and guys. She wanted to walk without them. She could be tough, although I did not need much convincing to be alone with her. We did nothing but walk around and check out other people. She would get dressed up real fancy for the festivals. I think I was also a sharp dresser along with my brother. I remember wearing huge bell-bottoms with elevator shoes. I am a tall fellow and the looked huge with my elevator shoes, and my girl who is petite and wore no heals. She probably came up to my chest, and no more. When I think of the time she would tell me that she wants to be by our selves and not with our friends, I think she was showing me off? I am not sure but it was delightful to see her insist we be alone. She was very attentive about small things, like did you eat, are you tired, do you want to sit down, do you want some water, do you want to pray, do you want something, and it was always do you want to do something or the other. It was never about her. She was always asking me what I wanted to do. I also remember my asking her about what she wanted? We did not have a lot of money but I remember we were always getting together to buy stuff for each other. Flowers were always special and sometimes-small things. Especially when the time for festivals, it was always special.
I still remember going out to late night movies together. We used to jump gates to get away while every one was sleeping. It was fun to go out with your lungi? It somehow it was easier to be together, irrespective of what we did. Movie theaters gave some comfort, with cushioned seats and togetherness. Without trying we simply were together as much as we can in private and in public. Remember all those printed shirts, which said, “Love is Togetherness.”
It was hard to say good night, good morning, good day, and thank you, best of luck and other niceties we do everyday in English. She spoke no English. It made no sense in trying to say such absurd niceties in Telugu to your favorite person. I do this in silence everyday now. I thank her for the favorite memories. I think of her with great fascination. Lately as I even dare to think of what it might have been?
One of these days I might be brave enough to buy myself a ticket to India and go straight to her home and ask her for some coffee, and tell her I was in town and just came to say hello. I really think I should? I might even ask to see her children if she has any? I might try to pretend to her family that I was an old relative who went away and had simply dropped by to say hello. I might try to help her if she needs any. I might try to find out what happened in June 1976. I might have a long list of many things I need to know.
Then again, I am sure everything is fine with her. How could things be wrong with my favorite person? She must be busy with her own life as I am. She must have thought about the old days, if she had time like I do. She must be wondering what might have happened to me? I am sure she is. Hey, we have had since 1976 to think of things we did together. It is simply not enough time to feel all the good things about her, and I may need a few more years to archive my favorite things shared with my favorite person.
The story will continue. Endless.
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