A Simple Love Story

An excerpt from the first chapter of the novella, A Simple Love Story.
You can browse through or buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H25NZ62

Boy Meets Girl

Speaking of words and roads…
            We were on our way back from a temple city that we’d gone visiting in a group. At that time anything that we could do was in a group. Like a protective umbrella around us. So afraid to reveal ourselves and our desires. Even to simply say that we wanted simply to be with each other was like running naked at that time. So we sought the protection of a group. When it came to love, we were heartbreakingly innocent.
Throughout the journey we conspired to be close to each other. Whether in the bus or walking or seeing things or eating. At times we succeeded and at times we failed. But the waves of this whole exercise lapped so gently against each other that we were quite content to roll with them, being together now and then not being together.
            On our way back on the bus, others conspired for us not to sit together. (There are always others in the picture who don’t quite want it to happen.) For two whole hours I was looking out of one window, and she of another. For two whole hours nothing but desolation. For two whole hours a straining of the ears to know what the other was saying and doing (for we were seeing quite well even with our ears then, as we could not look at each other, except through the corners of our eyes). And after two hours, well, Ba said she was tired of talking with whoever she was talking to; I said please send her here and I would make her happy, and the others said to Ba please come here for he could make you happy. Ba came and sat beside me.
            For two minutes I was simply aware of her presence.
            Then I told Ba that if she was tired of talking I would let her sit by the window and enjoy the silence and that I would not speak for an hour.
            ‘An hour?’ she said.
            In my pain and stupidity I thought an hour was too little for her and said, ‘Two hours then, Ba.’
            And she looked at me in a manner I did not quite understand or was too diffident to understand, and said, ‘Two hours are too much. Half an hour is enough.’
            And I said… In fact, I said nothing. I indicated with a gesture that it would be so.
            Ba contemplated the fading evening through the bus window and I was left alone to quietly contemplate the whole exchange. My heart was for some reason aching.

Half an hour passed and I don’t know how many times I looked at the watch and how many times I resisted the temptation to do so. I was trying to be calm, so calm. Well, the half-hour did pass and she threw a half-glance in my direction and I threw a half-glance in hers. But I was determined not to say anything. She would have to be the first to speak to prove to me yet one more time that she did want to talk to me, that I wasn’t imposing myself upon her.
            She burst out laughing. And she raised her eyebrows in a laughing query.
            I laughed back and shrugged my shoulders.
            ‘Are we ever going to speak,’ she said, in a gesture.
            ‘Well, it’s entirely up to you,’ I said, in a gesture.
            ‘What?’ she said, in a gesture. She had not quite understood my gesture.
            Words were forbidden so I used another gesture.
            ‘If you speak, I speak,’ I said in a gesture.
            ‘You may speak,’ she said in a gesture.
            ‘Not if you don’t,’ I said in a gesture.
            There was silence for a while and there was no gesture.
            ‘I am not going to speak,’ I said comically, in a gesture.
            All right!’ she said, comically, in a gesture.
            ‘Oh yes,’ I said, comically, in a gesture.
            ‘Oh no,’ she said, comically, in gesture.
            I tried to take the conversation forward, comically, in a gesture.
            ‘You don’t want to speak to anyone,’ I said accusingly, in a gesture.
            ‘You won’t let me speak,’ she said accusingly, in a gesture.
            ‘Oh, but I have little control over you,’ I said, secretly despairingly, in a gesture.
            ‘You are the one who won’t speak to me,’ she said, secretly sadly, in a gesture.
            We were both comically sad in our gestures.
            But in our hearts we were really, really sad, and not only in our gestures.
            But all I wanted was to be in touch with her, if only through a gesture.
            And so I continued to speak, but only in a gesture.
            ‘You are a child,’ I said, speaking through a gesture.
            ‘I’m not your child,’ she said, replying through a gesture.
            Then she touched my hand and this was a gesture.
            I touched her hand back in reply to her gesture.
            But it was only play and it was all in gestures.
            We could not quite take ourselves seriously and so we continued with our gestures.
            I pressed her nose but making sure it was a gesture.
            She pushed me away, making sure it was a gesture.
            I said my hair is grey and I would not find a wife, in a gesture.
            She agreed that I would not find a wife, in a gesture.
            Even this play was hurting but I hid it in a gesture.
            What her heart was feeling she hid in a gesture.

And so we continued to play with our gestures…
            Oh Lord, how we continued to play with our gestures…
            Words were dead and there were only our gestures…
            But some urges were too strong, even for gestures…