Four Letters and a Phone Call - V

She was trying to focus on her books when she was suddenly jolted by the announcement of her name on the public announcement system at the hostel. She wondered who was calling at this time of the evening. This was not the time her parents usually called.

She quickly walked down and picked up the call. “Hello. Who is this?

There was a pause. Then slowly the receiver came to life. “Is it Sarah? This is Phani.

Her heart skipped a beat. It was the first time she was hearing his voice ever since they had started corresponding.

Are you there?

His voice sounded anxious.

Yes,” she replied. There was so much they had to say to each other but words had clearly deserted both of them and they found themselves fumbling for the simplest of words.

Well, did you get my last letter?

I did.

He waited for her reaction. But none was forthcoming. So he continued.

I got this weird letter from someone claiming to be your friend.

Her heart sunk. This was not sounding positive at all. Had her friend’s brilliant idea not worked out? She had no clue what to say. So she remained silent

He waited for her reaction and after a while spoke up again. “Are you still there?

Yes. Tell me,” she replied in a feeble voice.

Her lukewarm response was beginning to infuriate him. “So you have no idea about this so called friend of yours?

No. No. Rachel is my best friend.

So you only asked her to write the letter?

Now where was this heading? What was she to say?

What happened now? Cat got your tongue? If you are not interested in speaking to me, tell me. I will keep the damn phone down this very minute.

No. Please don’t keep the phone down.

So you finally found your voice, eh? Let us leave the topic of your friend. Did you get my last letter?

I did,” she said after a short pause.

And so what is your response?

Don’t you think we are rushing things? Shouldn’t we take some time and think things out?

Is that supposed to be a no? You do not wish to marry me?

You have been such a good friend to me,” she said weakly.

The usual just friends dialogue, eh? So it was never love at all this while? I should have known this was coming. You girls do this to guys all the time, right? Make use of us when you need us, play with our emotions, build up our hopes and then finally say that we are just friends!

His voice had by now hit a feverish pitch. He was fuming with rage. Even from such a distance the heat of his fury was seething her. She had never seen him like this. It frightened her to see him like this.

She broke down into sobs. “Please, don’t say such unkind things to me.

He was completely disgusted. These women! She had answered none of his questions. Whenever logic failed, they had their favorite weapon. They would just turn on the tap and bring the men to their knees. But he knew better. He was not bowing to this emotional blackmail. He had enough of her. He slammed the phone down!

He was fuming even after he got back to his room. He had to smoke a full pack of cigarettes before his nerves calmed down a bit. Then he noticed a large envelope lying near the door of his room. He wondered what it was. He opened it apprehensively. He wondered what knew trouble it heralded. The moment he read its contents, his spirits soared to the skies. His application for Masters in Physics at the University of Stockholm had been accepted! It seemed like a sign from heaven. Physics was his true love. He had lost his way the past three years blinded by love. Now his vision had cleared. This was the opportunity to bring his life back on track.

She wept the whole day. She did not know what to do. A week passed by with no communication from him. One day as she sat brooding over Phani, suddenly her name was announced on public announcement system. She ran to the phone excitedly. But it was not Phani. It was her mother. Her parents had got a marriage proposal for her from a distant relative based out of UK. He was willing to let her finish her studies and was willing to support her higher studies in UK as well. It was a dream proposal as far as her parents were concerned. She was in a dilemma. She could not think of any reasonable objection as such. With things about Phani so uncertain, she saw no reason to upset her parents. So she did not raise any objections. The next couple of days, she tried to call Phani a couple of times. But he was always unreachable. She was not sure if he was busy or purposely avoiding her. But there was only so much she could do.

Time, they say is the best healer and add it to the good news of his application for higher studies being accepted, Phani’s mood had greatly improved. He felt probably he had not been entirely fair to Sarah and decided to speak to her again. He called her up at her hostel. After a long wait a new female voice greeted him. “Hi, I am Sarah’s friend. She is not here this weekend. She is in her hometown for her engagement.

The news hurt him. But in a way, it gave him a sense of closure. It kind of freed him of guilt. As far as she was concerned, she was back to being the obedient, dutiful daughter. It was not in her nature to go against the tide. But a sense of loss and sadness would prevail in the depth of both their hearts forever.

Beginning of the Series        : Four Letters and a Phone Call - I
Previous Post in the Series  : Four Letters and a Phone Call - IV


Diwakar Narayan said...

Kind of expected, TF; but we were supposed to share true stories and now I can sense why it did not make it to getting published.

Nice story, though.

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Hmm! Unlike Diwa, I still cannot sense why :)

Rickie said...

I was waiting for the final installment.

Frankly, I had a bit of an issue relating to the story. I anyway have issues with stories relating to unrequited love due to parental intransigence because it has always felt very filmy to me - In real life, I have never met people whose spouses were 'selected' or 'approved' by their parents!

But my bigger beef here was with the male protagonist's oddity and the over reliance on letters. Why the heck did they not meet or talk sooner, my mind kept screaming! :D

My take is that this was a classic antithetical love story. Two people who felt they were in love...but it wasn't love after all. Am I right?

Rickie said...

Actually, I can see what Diwakar means when he says why this was not published. It's because the story unfolded like real life would. It did not have a deliriously happy ending. Neither did it have a devastatingly sad one.
Real life is usually devoid of those kinds of shrill special effects that publishers want!

The Fool said...

Thanks for detailed comment, Rickie. Helps me see how readers perceive a story.

Well I have issues with all love stories. Never liked them. But then the contest was to write a love story. So had to.

Oddity of male protagonist - The chap was odd. He never met the girl since the coaching classes - maybe because she was in Kerala and he was in Chennai.

I don't know what is love to say if it was love or not. In the real incident on which this story is based, I have no clue how the girl felt about the whole thing. The guy agonized over it for a long long time but just could not accept the idea of conversion.

The Fool said...

Surprising that the publishers say they want real story and reject when they get a real story.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Diwa. I just did what they asked - love story based on real life incidents.

The Fool said...

Well, Suresh - I guess it is for good only. If I had been selected I might have been tempted to write more love stories.

Diwakar Narayan said...

When the situation gets into such complication, 'let go' is the only option (or the most obvious one) that the real-time lovers have. I have seen many of these in real life and hence it was kind of expected.

I think HC might have been looking for more spice in the story.

Diwakar Narayan said...

Bang on, Rickie :)

Anunoy Samanta said...

"But a sense of loss and sadness would prevail in the depth of both their hearts forever"---> Nah nothing lasts forever... just remembered the beautiful lyrics of G&Rs:
"Nothin' lasts forever and we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain"
Very well concluded Lucifer! The last part made up for all the flat chords raising their heads in previous parts :-)

Shrikant Pednekar said...

Just read the entire 5 parts. Really liked it. I was hoping that it would end on a positive note. But alas, it ended on a sad note. But even though there was a kind of sadness in the climax, both Phani and Sarah had something forward to look forward to. Not sure how much of a consolation would that be for a "broken" heart.
Great Read!!

indu chhibber said...

I am having goose bumps after reading the last part .I don't know why--maybe because it is so simple & true to life.
I too believe with the protagonist-there are many other important issues in life besides love and many persons worthy of love too. It does not do to ruin your life for one episode.
I liked this story because there are no unnatural twists in it.Glad i came here.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot for taking my casual comment on Indichat seriously and reading. Glad you liked it. Well that is how it was.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Indu. Glad you liked it. I felt the realism was the best part. That is why while fictionalizing I tied my best to keep it as close to reality as possible.

The Fool said...

That is true, Anunoy. Possible they felt that way. Maybe time would have changed that. Glad you like the ending.

Rachna said...

I read all the parts together. Yep, it is real. Things can pan out this way. And it does not matter that we hope for filmy endings. But seriously, why would the guy not meet her. This whole letter writing routine is so flawed. But then you are just telling a tale. I guess there are all kinds of people. And love is so complicated anyway. Most times I think we are in love with the idea of love!

The Fool said...

I don't know, Rachna - why he never met her in person. I guess there is always a hesitation meeting someone for a first time that too in a different city. But poor chap wasted a crucial year of engineering due to this.

jaish_vats said...

Oh Oh! I did not expect a sad end like this, but I guess its pretty close to reality! Well written TF.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Jaish. Guess it would not have had the impact if it has not been close to reality. And this is based on real life incidents as stated in requirements of the HC contest.

Pankti Mehta said...

This is so sad :(

The Fool said...

Well, that is how it was meant to be. Often love stories do end like this.

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