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Words To Live By

February 17, 2014 , by Sewa Bhattarai, Leave your thoughts
Words To Live By » My Dreams Mag
She wrote to me every day. But since posting them every day was not an option, she collected them in a bundle and posted them every week. She wrote in the thinnest paper possible, and wrote in minuscule handwriting, so that it cost less to post. I anticipated these letters like they were my very life (which they were, actually), and savoured them bit by bit. 

 

Today with so many students going abroad for studies, the number of long distance relationships is ever increasing. Some make it, and some don’t. It is not surprising when they don’t, it is hard to live with just words, even though they may be the best words. But the ones that do, perhaps prove the truth of this quotation “Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.” DREAMS presents one such story of a passion that defied time, society, rules, and every other obstacle, one story where love triumphed over everything else.

 

**

It was the second week of my entry into a new school. I kept hearing of the first girl of the class, but she had not made an appearance yet. Like everyone else, I was eagerly anticipating her entry.

When Saloni finally did turn up, I realized she was quite something. Just one look and I was smitten by this cute little girl who had her sight fixed on studies. I was in love, and knew it was for keeps! Everyday my love for her only grew.

I gradually became friends with her and her friends. But I did not tell her about my feelings for over two years. By that time, everyone kind of knew that I liked someone. Her best friend thought I liked her. And in fact, a few months ago when Saloni and I met her, she even complained to Saloni “You ruined my life. If only you had not come between me and Amit, I would be the one enjoying life in the US today.” She did not know that my heart was never hers. Saloni and I still laugh about it.

So back then, a lot of other girls thought I liked them. When she took notes in class, Saloni used to write her questions with a green pen and answers with a blue one. So I told everyone that I like the “Green Girl”, but nobody knew who the “Green Girl” was, not even Saloni. Everyone though I meant a girl from the “Green House.” A lot of the Green house girls would come up to me and simper, hoping I would give them some signal that I liked them. It made me laugh.

The curiosity about my ladylove was gradually building. One day close to our SLC, as Saloni and I were talking over the phone, she asked me who it was. I felt it was the right time to tell her. I knew if I told her then, she would not reject me. “It’s you” I said. “Is it really? I thought it was someone else” she said. “Tell me your decision. Or else my SLC is shot” I gave her an ultimatum. She hesitated. And then someone called her, in the background, to hang up and come over. “Tell me, tell me before you go!” I implored her. “Okay!” She said, and hung up. And that simple affirmation was the beginning of our epic romance.

We went to the same college next, had the same friends’ circle, were always together. Those were the days when we really got to know each other, and enjoyed our fresh romance to the full. But one day, as it always happens, our halcyon days were over. After our plus two, I decided to join my family in the US.

 

**

Six years later, I looked at the calendar and crossed out the day’s date. One more day gone by without Saloni. One more day I survived in this foreign land, where I had no friends, did not speak the language, was not happy. A school with hundreds of people, just four girls in each class (it was an engineering school) and none of them spoke to me. I went to work where I did not know how to interact with colleagues. Everything about this place repelled me.

Six years had gone by in a similar fashion. My only respite all this time were the letters from Saloni. She wrote to me every day. Yes, EVERY DAY. But since posting them every day was not an option, she collected them in a bundle and posted them every week. She wrote in the thinnest paper possible, and wrote in minuscule handwriting, so that it cost less to post. I anticipated these letters like they were my very life (which they were, actually), and savoured them bit by bit. In a dreary life where I saw no escape, these letters were my only ray of hope.

Perhaps these moments made me realize what each person meant to me. As I cherished these letters more than anything else, trying to find an answer to all the questions that life threw at me, an antidote to all the pains and misery that life flung at me, I had come to realize which relationships were the most important ones to me. When I did not have the warm care of a lover, I realized I could even live with words, but only the words of a certain studious girl who lived seven-seas-away.

 

**

I must have visited Nepal three times during my fifteen years of stay in the US. That is once in five years. But whenever I went, I hardly paid any attention to anyone else. I arrived almost in secret, spent all possible time with Saloni, and returned. Those little pockets of time shine like jewels in my memory of a bland life that I spent lonely, without her.

 

**

At some point Saloni went off to a hostel for a rigorous semester. For hours I would sit by the phone and try her number. The telephone line in the hostel with a hundred girls (or more, for all I knew), was always busy. But I knew I had to hear her voice. Once I get hold of her, I would keep her on the line for hours. Once again, trying to get all kinds of emotional sustenance from her voice.

Those were the days when mobile phones first came out. I sent Saloni one from the US, when nobody had one in her hostel. One of those bulky, heavy ones that only made and received phone calls. But it did the job. We did not have to rely on the busy land-line any more, and I could call her whenever I wanted. Yes, my phone bills were astronomic!

 

**

When the time came, we decided to take things ahead to marriage. We had been together for three years, and apart for twelve years. But we were of different castes, and this created problems in both families. Convincing them to come around was arduous. Once, when we were sixteen, Saloni and I had been caught going around holding hands. Saloni got badly told off by her family, and we were stressed for days. But that seemed liked child’s play when compared to this ultimate stress. Saloni’s family were already looking for matches for her. I flew down to Nepal and after a long heart to heart talk with her family, was able to convince them to wait a year for me, until I got my stuff together with my family.

Back in the US, my family showed no sign of relenting. I was so stressed-out that I left home for a while, got a low paid part time job to survive, slept in the car. When I came back after months, my family finally agreed. But they were reluctant to set a date, perhaps hoping against hope even then to avoid the marriage. At this point I asked Saloni to call my father to convince him to set a date. You can only imagine the kind of faith she had in the relationship to make call after call, overseas, to convince a prospective father-in-law, that too from a conservative family like ours. I asked Saloni and her family to start preparations for the wedding. But since me and my family were all abroad and everybody was dilly dallying, they didn’t quite know if they could trust me. But one month before the wedding, there I was, with my family, and it finally happened.

 

**

Come to think of it, I think my relationship may have been the last of the generation before internet. We went the whole gamut, from letters, to phone, to internet, to skype. Those years of long distance have given our relationship a kind of magic, we spend hours reminiscing about everything. The first 6-7 years of me being abroad were excruciatingly difficult times. For some people that is enough time to have one whole relationship. Or even several. For us it was just a part of our story, the difficult part when we were apart.

Would my life have been different if I had not invested so much time and energy into this one relationship? Would I have made progress in other areas? I don’t know. My family always thought Saloni had been a big distraction for me through my teenage years, and wanted me to give up on her. But was she really? Would I have had a less stressed life if I had given up on her and looked for someone else?

But what if you are lucky enough to find your soul mate, and your soul mate is seven seas away? What if you never find in anyone else what you find in that one person? What if you knew that if you gave up on her, you would always regret it? What if you know she is the one, and she feels the same? Wouldn’t you give your everything to make it come true?

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Image Source: peoniesandpancakes.wordpress

 

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Text By: Sewa Bhattarai

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