Monday, July 25, 2011

A love letter writer

During your school days, many of you (I’m talking to girls) would have received love letters from your admirers and boyfriends. Some of you, tagged beauty queens of school in those days, might have collected hundreds. But let me ask you this. (This question may jeopardize your glorious pride of having received the world's best letters). Errmm…the question is…do you really think that those letters you received during your school days were actually written by your admirers or boyfriends. Sorry, I am here to unlock this secret today, though it lauds hurtful. Hush-hush! 

When I was a school student, you know what? I was a love letter writer. But hey, I never wrote for myself, but for other boys. After winning two consecutive prizes in the school Essay Writing Competitions, I was targeted by the boys, for them, to write love letters, to their dream girls and girlfriends. I was coaxed, sometimes even bullied by them. 

In those days, it was before 2000, in absence of mobile network and internet, love letter was the only bridge that connected young lovers. The expression of one’s feelings or love was, thus, exclusively reflected in the love letters. The school rules and regulations had been draconically strict that boys and girls were mostly kept separated from meeting. A brief meeting during intervals and study hours was never an enough time to express their unconquerable ocean-deep love and eternal feelings. The brutal truth was that even trespassing the girls’ hostel fence had forced a few students expelled from the school. Unhindered by all this; however, still the students braved to write and send love letters.

Voila! There you see the reason why love letter was to be written in best way, and express the best feelings. That’s why boys chose the best person from the school, good in English, to write for them. And I became an inexhaustible treasure-house of love letters for them. 

Love letters usually flied; oh, sneaked from one hand to another very fast, and secretly. Role of a postman (used for both sex), who carries love letters between two love birds, was very significant. A cagey affair, though. This middleman must ensure that the letters should reach to the designated girl or boy unmistakably. If the letter was being grasped by any teacher or matron or warden then both love birds had to stand ominous consequences, as severe as terminating from the school.

Trend would have it that a boy always had to initiate and write letters to a girl. Then he waits for the reply. I have such a letter (reply from a girl) which is called suspension letter. Read it below: 

Make a curry,
Don’t be hurry. 

Guess what? Unlike today, what is paramount in those days was that boys had such a good quality of patience to wait for the reply. They could seemingly wait even for a year, or till they passed out from the school, though desperately.

In most letters, I always tried to be very blunt in expressing feelings for girls. Personification, rhymes, similes and metaphors were commonly applied to decorate or add further gloss to the letter and impress girls. Following letter is one that was written in the best style: 

Elephant is fat,
My handwriting is bad.
Fly, fly, fly, my letter fly
If you don’t reply, I will cry. 

Similarly: 

Cows need grass,
Babies need milk,
I need you. 

Ouch, while writing a proposal letter a boy should be always prepared for the rejection letter as shown below (it is a rejection letter by a girl): 

I have a pen that is blue,
I have a friend that is you. 

However, the good thing as a love letter writer was that some boys used to come to me with packed lunch, fresh fruits, cookies and stationery. More importantly, it advantaged me in improving my English language proficiency. Also, it increased my vocabulary. Oh man, to keep up level of the expectation that my friends had on me, I had to read voraciously and refer the Oxford Dictionary frequently. Each day I had learned new words, new stories and new ways to vent one’s love or feelings. Today I could write this post just because of them. Thanks to them!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It always hurts more to have and lose than to not have in the first place

Prologue: This is a true story narrated by my niece, Banira. It occurred at a remote village in Sarpang just a year before the anti-national protests in southern Bhutan. 

Maya was just 12 year-old when she was married off to a man of her father’s age. Her aging parents, poor, arranged her marriage, for this groom supported them financially. They had nothing to repay him, so they gave him their daughter’s hand.

Maya was a shy girl and so courteous that she spoke in a voice barely higher than a whisper. Unaware of anything like man and marriage, she agreed upon what her parents had decided for her.

A couple of years later, Maya’s first child was miscarriage. She wailed like a child when the village elders wrapped the dead child in a piece of cotton cloth and took just a mile away. They hung it on a tree branch as their custom would have it that a miscarriage cannot be buried or burnt or given a proper funeral.

Her second child survived; a daughter identical to her. That evening her husband killed rooster for dinner as a humble celebration. And to protect this lovely child from evil or premature death, she and her husband gave her an ugly name, Kali.

When Maya was 20, she met with another misfortune. This time agonizingly horrific: her husband died from untreated malaria. The in-laws booted out her from the house as they called her a witch and accused her for causing untimely death of her husband. They ostracized her. Also, they deprived her of her own daughter.

She was left without any place to go. In a typical Hindu custom, a daughter cannot return to her parents and live with them after the marriage. It would be a disgrace to her parents.

She had a distant relative in the next village where she sought refuge. Her relative was helpful and protective, but she lived in an absolute loneliness.

Two autumns passed. One evening when she went out to fetch water from the spring, she met a handsome man. It was her love at first sight. Tshering was his name, and he was in late 20s. Dressed in black leather jacket and jeans pant, he wore side-pungs. She found him so charming that she started thinking of him every second. She dreamed to be with him, in the warmth of his embrace, longing to hear his sweet voice.

Secretly during night hours, she always went to meet him. They hid under a bush, under starry nights and shared infinite love notes and kisses. Each night she spent with him, she fell in love with him more intensely and more she needed him. She discovered Tshering was so caring, loving, dear to her who made her life complete.

One night, under the bush, Tshering asked her for the greatest treasure that Maya could ever give him. Obviously sex. She felt that this was the first time any man had asked her for that. As he entered her, she felt Tshering was the first man she ever made love. She never felt this before, though she had spent eight years with her late husband. 

What is love? What is romance? What is a kiss? What is a love bite? What is lovemaking? She never knew these until she met another man in her life.

Now she got everything that she wanted in her life: love, companion, affection and protection. She didn’t want to lose all this. So she decided to marry Tshering.

However, this happiness of her was short lived. One night, Tshering told her that he has to talk to his parents about their marriage and he went back to his village in eastern Bhutan. That night she cried as she missed him terribly and felt lonely. She didn’t feel this pain even on the day her husband or first child died or even when she separated from her parents.

She waited and waited for his come back to marry her. But Tshering never return. Several months conceded. She started panicking, once again feeling lonely, depressed and alienated.

After ten months, she heard from a neighbor that Tshering was a married man. Heartbroken, she fell on the ground and never rise. She died, betrothed and unheard.

Epilogue: But who knows her story? The person who gave the news about Tshering’s foul game to Maya is my niece who narrated this story to me.