Part 3- Love Letters, Leave Letters and All That
(In my last post, before the interval, I had left the story hanging of what my friend Anitha said to me when i suggested we elope, the story is continued here)
Once on a hot summer evening after college hours, I went over to the sports field behind the college buildings and climbed up the tiered steps surrounding the ground to chat with the gang, the whole gang of friends being there, before we all went home. As we talked of this and that, the talk gradually turned around to who i liked best among our group of friends. Always truthful (a disease I used to suffer much from in those days) I replied with the name of my friend Anitha, who had impressed me with her honesty and for brutally speaking the truth to me. For the others were always wary of getting on the wrong side of my tongue, while Anitha was the one who kept me grounded whenever i got too big for my boots with a swollen head. Yes, painful as it is to recall now, i was a conceited little moron in my younger days. But it’s all part of growing up, for when you are young you often think you have everything, till life teaches you the hard lessons.
Let’s get back to the lesson I learnt. While I was waxing eloquent over what a best pal Anitha was to me, my friends suggested the obvious, if she was such a great friend, why hadn’t I taken the next step and proposed to her? The thought had never entered my mind till it was suddenly planted there by that question. Never one to let grass grow under my feet once a decision had been made; I hurried down the steps to the lowest level where Anitha was resting after her exertions on the track. Did I mention earlier that she was a star sportswoman, a fine track and field athlete, an all-rounder in the short and long sprint events? Anyhow as she sat there, toweling her sweat off, i walked up to her, in front of the whole cheering gang who had come to watch me propose and said casually to her “odi polama?” (Shall we elope?), a dialogue borrowed off some film i had seen recently.
Not a bit flustered, she coolly appraised the situation and said calmly “on one condition, you race with me up to the college gates from here and if you win the race, i shall”. So started the most horrifying running race of my life, where I was racing against a girl who knew how to put me in place in her own style. Although I tried my best, face it, i am no athlete in top condition and she easily outran me to the cheers of everyone present on the ground. That was the end of any romantic feeling I had towards her, for public humiliation often wakes you up from any fantasies .The lesson i learnt from that episode is never to try too hard when it comes to proposing to girls. Either they take you as it is or they don’t, but never go and do anything unnatural just to impress them. It can never be sustained in the long run.
Well, enough of love letters and proposals, lets come to leave letters now. I am sure many of us would have written hundreds of leave letter in our life starting from our school days right up to now – to our teachers and superiors at the office. But i am guessing that i am the only person who ever wrote a leave letter to a girl in love. It happened like this. We had got together in November and for the next three months had spent a lot of time hanging out together, so much so that i had majorly neglected to study for my exams and had fallen way behind the others in class. It didn’t matter to her because she was in the pre-final year (my junior batch) and they had just light subjects to pass. But I on the other hand was on the eve of my final year exams, when all the monster subjects (the toughest papers) were on the exam menu. Something had to be done, if I had to avoid becoming a total wreck in the exams.
So, I met her on the first day of February with a leave letter which went something like this ”
As my upcoming final year exams are scheduled for the first week of April and I have barely sixty days left to cover the whole years portions, which I neglected to prepare till now as I was far too busy hanging out in your honored company, I request you to kindly grant me leave from our relationship till the second half of April when I will be able to devote my full attention to you like old times. I hope you understand that circumstances have forced this necessary change on me and this is nothing personal against you. Expecting your kind assent to my study leave,
And when I handed over this letter, the stupid girl decided to reject my leave letter and broke up with me permanently, after abusing me with choice words. Well, the aftermath of the story was, I felt insulted and angry and as anger is a rare emotion with me and too valuable to be wasted (mine is a smoldering cold anger rather than a hot outbursts type), I used the anger to set the alarm clock and wake up earlier than anyone else and to study later in the night when everyone else would have dropped off, just by imagining that the girl who had abused me would still be studying and I had to beat her with better marks and any sacrifice of sleep is worth seeing the results on the notice board announcing the topper. So that did work out well for me in the end as I did indeed graduate with honors.
Anyway personal anecdotes aside, the art of writing letters is fast disappearing. People never write love letters now to propose, they just do it online over a messenger (google talk) or send in an sms (mobile message). And Microsoft Office has so many leave letter templates that you just need to fill in and mail to the office. The skill of writing a succinct handwritten note has all but disappeared except for some holdouts like my friend Sowmya who I had mentioned above. I wish more power to them and may their tribe increase.