07 August 2014

Roses that don’t lose fragrance even 30 years later

Pic courtesy lovethesepics.com

What does a 14 year old know about love or life?  What does a 41 year old know about anything?  And do we get wiser with age?  Do we live and love better?  Well, 30 years ago a 14 year old girl wrote a love letter to an 18 year old boy.  Not the first and probably was not the last.  Those were letter writing times; no text messages, no email.  Pen on paper.  That’s it. 

‘I love you, boy.  Send me 18 yellow roses.’

Simple stuff.   The problem was that the boy was, well, a boy.  He didn’t understand the language of roses or color.  Well, we are not sure if the girl did either.  If either or both knew it might have taken the magic out of the story for yellow roses, as tradition has it, are about friendship and not love. 

But a letter with the word ‘love’ on it is most certainly a love-letter.   When roses are requested or delivered there’s meaning to the exercise, especially since we are talking about a love-letter. 

The young boy didn’t know anything about roses.  He had to seek advice from an older boy.  The advise arrived: ‘You are still in school.  Roses are expensive. Yellow roses are very expensive.  You can’t afford it. Forget it.’

He forgot it. 

Time passed.  They walked in and out of people’s lives as people walked in and out of theirs.  Neither knew of the other’s journeys.    They may have thought about one another as people do; not planned, not with intention of renewal, but in the way best described by that says-nothing word ‘just’.   He married someone. She did too.   He divorced, she did not.  He had children, she had too.   

The boy, now man, is all about love.  He gets a lot of flak for the kind of life he leads.  Someone once chided him thus:  ‘You are married, divorced, married again.  You live alone.  You have a good job, you earn good money, but you drink, you have girlfriends.  Your life is a mess.’

So the man tells his friend:  ‘There is a boy who is a very good student and brilliant at sports, and a girl who too is a good student and is great at sports.  They come from well established families, known to each other.   They grow up, go to university, one to Harvard and one to Oxford. They return, find good jobs.  
They meet randomly, become friends.  They think that they would make a good couple but being decent and well-bred, let’s say, they don’t date, don’t do anything naughty, but go to their parents and through them discuss marriage.  They get married, have kids who, like them, study hard, get into university, get good jobs etc., etc.  They die.  Now suppose someone made a film about them, would you enjoy watching it?   Or if someone wrote their story, would you enjoy reading it?’


‘But you enjoy “Viragaya” don’t you?’

‘Of course!’

‘And would you like to read novels about people and things that don’t work out perfectly?’


‘Well, I am the book you want to read, the movie you would not miss.’

The boy, now man, lived alone, as we said.  He is a father but not a very present one.  He is a successful professional but one who would put aside everything for a moment of romance, a half-chance at a kind of love people write or read about but rarely experience.  And he, who had never been bothered by rose-questions or color-questions, was revisited by a few words, a color, a flower and a fragrance that will remain unnamed.  He was not looking.  She was not either.  But someone said something that triggered recall.  He wanted to see her.  She wanted to see him.  They met. 

They are no longer teenagers who know little of love.  They are middle-aged people who may very well have not picked up anything of significance on the subject over 30 years.  But they held hands.  They smiled and laughed.  And that was that.

And since that moment, his head spinning, faced by collapsing dimensions, revisited by a 14 year old girl in 44 year old skin, tormented and elated by the warmth of a handclasp which, although not the first, was a first-love caress, a 48 year old man finds that he has a 14 year old boy’s heart. 

There won’t be books written about it.  No films.  And not because this is the timeless love story.  It’s because certain people are books and films.  It’s because 18 is not a random number and neither is yellow a random color.  Roses are roses but some have unnamed fragrances.  Some call it love, some call it something else.  It does not matter, 30 years later. 



Anonymous said...

Such a heart rendering story:)

Anonymous said...

I know of the 48-year-old who would put away everything for a moment of love...

Anonymous said...

It is easy to see love as inducer to check out the indispensability of another, for this lifetime and possibly others. In this most unromantic of notions, it’s more or less about investment i.e. self-interest. And then one comes across such romantic stories such as these. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful. .

Anonymous said...