A Common Love Story

The story which I am going to tell here is a very common love story. It may not appear to be a love story at all. You might as well say that it is absurd. This is the problem in life. When we talk about life, they say it seems to be a story, and when we tell them a story, they say there is nothing like a story in it. We see and do all these things in our daily life. Even then a story is a story. It is your verdict now whether it is a story, or everyday incident of life.

Like many other evenings of the past years, the hero of our story, sitting on the raised wall along the Marine drive in Bombay, waiting for his heroine, is watching the play of the waves in the Arabian Sea. The sun has just disappeared behind the horizon, and it appears that before going it has spilled many buckets full of crimson colors. The colors have scattered over the horizon.

The hero may be called by any name. He may be between 22 and 28 years of age. He might be graduate, or post graduate. He could be a clerk in a bank or a private firm, or simply a store keeper in a factory. There are hundreds of such openings in this metropolitan city for the hero or the men like our hero. It hardly makes any difference whether he does this or that. He might be living in a slum, or sharing a room with four other roommates, or he could be a paying guest. It is also possible that our hero lives in a lodge and gets a bed in a room where twelve other persons sleep. One thing is for sure that he can not afford to pay even for a single room apartment.

He could have married his heroine many months before and he would not be waiting for her. Looking at his watch, he thought she should have come by now. He had been sitting there for about an hour. He had met her at this very place, about two years before. Her life was almost similar to his. She might be called by any name, or she might be a degree holder. Though she lives in her own house. Her circumstances are a little better than his but many things were the same. Perhaps, these similarities had brought them closer. The hero is an outsider and she is the native of the city. The heroine has very common appearance. Her dark complexion, sometimes, makes her feel inferior.

Wait a second, for I feel that for the convenience of this narrative we should give them names so that while reading their story we should feel that they are living beings too, and though simple they have their life too. They have their identities too. The story is from India, so let's call them Bharat and Bharati.

It is a coincidence that Bharati writes poems as well. Our hero and heroine who will be identified by the names of Bharat and Bharati are two very common people. They are very honest but suppressed by the society. Their lives can be summed up in three words-struggle, struggle, and struggle. Though they have not tasted success, they could have climbed all the stairs had they been given a chance. They did not get any chance to do so, in spite of being worthy of it. In a way, they can not be blamed for their predicament. They are neither the first nor the last of the couples who became the victims of the circumstances. In fact there is a long story behind it, and we will have to digress for a while to enter the story behind our present story. Yes, it is true that we will come to know more about our hero and heroine, and as a result they will be nearby us. Wherever possible, they will tell their story by themselves. So, it was the 50th independence day of the country. This year was no different from the preceding years. It made no difference to them. But this year, the celebrations were going to be grand, with the government funding. Our hero and heroine were totally indifferent to these festivities.

Looking at Bharat, waiting for Bharati, one could guess what was going on in his mind. He might be thinking about his village, his sick father, his old mother, his unemployed younger brother, and his sister who was waiting to be married, or he might be worried because he had not been able to send them money order this month. It was also possible that he had been fired from his job. It could be Bharati's birthday and he was thinking about buying a small present for her. May be, it was a holiday and he had not a penny in his pocket. It was possible that he had to pay his room rent, or he had promised to take her out to dinner but he had no money. There were innumerable possibilities like these. It is also possible that all our surmises are wrong, and the young man has come to Marine drive to get fresh air and enjoy the freshness of the evening.

Why hadn't things changed in fifty years after the departure of the British masters from India? The growth, in a sense, was more negative than positive: more population, more unemployment, more crimes, and more deaths, more of almost every thing.

Our hero remembers his days when he had left the college. He had to stand in queues, sometimes in front and sometimes last. Jobs were difficult to come by. He had been cheated everywhere. No lucky opportunity had come to him. His first job was in the Municipal Council. He was eighteen years old at that time. It was about ten years ago. Paying one hundred rupees to the officer in the employment exchange, he had his got his name written with much struggle. On his first day in the office, he realized that his work was to spray insecticides in the lanes and by lanes of the city to eradicate mosquitoes. The condition was that he had to have his own bicycle. To refuse meant he would have to be unemployed for the following three months, and to accept meant, he could not apply for any other job for the six months to follow. An old cycle he got from a neighbor whose children he used to teach in the evenings. Unfortunately, the job lasted for three days only. Though there were thousands of people who were involved in much worse jobs in the country, he could not convince himself to kill mosquitoes for more than three days. It doesn't mean that he never got angry; the anger shows its effect by harming own existence of such unemployed young men. Some of such unemployed young men were unable to tolerate the agony of life and chose suicide as the last resort, and many others took to unfair means of earning money.

Now about our heroine. She was the youngest of the five sisters. Three elder sisters were married. The father was a retired bank clerk. Her mother had passed away when she was only ten. After her graduation, she started working as a teacher in a local school. She was 19 at that time. Old father was mostly sick, and she had to arrange his medicines. His pension was hardly enough to feed them. Now she is working in an office of a company. The circumstances are slightly better than they were.

Bharat and Bharati do want to get married and start a new life in their own world, but the bondage of families is the main hindrance. He knows that his old parents and young brother wait for the money he sends, and she knows that it would not take long for her father to die of his sickness if she decided to leave the house and go with Bharat.

Suddenly, our hero's face begins to beam; he notices her slow approach. He gets to his feet. She seems to be in a hurry. "My father is in Bombay hospital. I will have to go," she said hurriedly. She had a kind of pain for him in her eyes. She knew that she was not doing much for him, and she also knew that Bharat was the boy she had wanted to spend her life with. Soon, she was gone.

One week later, our hero was informed by his colleague that Bharati was getting married to a person who was a very senior officer in her office. For sometime, he didn't believe what he had heard, but then he composed himself.