The loves we leave behind | Sunday Observer

The loves we leave behind

Have you ever met a man or woman who married his or her first love? There may be a very few such couples. In fact, Walter Scott said, “From my experience, not one in twenty marries the first love, we build statues of snow, and weep to see them melt.” The world is full of men and women and finding a life partner seems to be a daunting task. Most of us meet members of the opposite sex, fall in love and then break off. When we finally get married to the chosen man or woman, we may have left a couple of loves behind.

Law student

Let us take the example of Roy (not his real name) who got a job in a state bank after getting through his GCE A/L examination with flying colours. Young, easy-going and ambitious, Roy was on the lookout for someone to turn up as his life partner. Many of his female colleagues, school teachers, village damsels, and even students were interested in him. Eventually, he fell in love with his landlord’s lovely daughter. She was studying for her GCE O/L examination. He helped her in her studies and had a glorious time while serving in a difficult area.

When he was transferred to a suburban city, Roy met more and more sophisticated girls and started an affair with a comely girl who was a Catholic. His parents who were staunch Buddhists objected to his affair. Roy had no difficulty in forgetting her as there were many others interested in him.

One day, Roy met a law student who had come to the bank to open a savings account. They exchanged pleasantries and soon became thick friends. Their friendship matured into a love affair. However, she was from a different caste, so he conveniently distanced himself from her.

Roy had a long-standing pen-pal living in the hill country. Their friendship started in their teens but he continued to correspond with her even after getting a job in the bank. The girl wanted to meet him and he met her at a railway station. They met, discussed sweet nothings and departed. Both believed, they would make an ideal couple. However, fate had other plans for him.

Roy passed his banking examinations and got his due promotions. His parents started looking for a partner for him. When he went home for a Vesak holiday, he joined his friends to see Vesak pandals in the city. At a particular pandal he saw a pretty girl with her mother and a small boy who appeared to be her brother. Love works in strange ways.

Love at first fight

Cupid started shooting arrows and both of them experienced a strange feeling. Later, he made discreet inquiries from his friends, about her whereabouts. It is said when you are in love, mysterious things happen. When he told his predicament to one of his friends, he said he would help him to meet her.

Their affair blossomed and they were married at a simple ceremony. They were blessed with two daughters. After serving as a bank manager he retired from service. One day, his eldest daughter casually asked him whether it was love at first sight. He said, “Yes.” Then she asked him whether he had other love affairs. He answered in the affirmative.

Roy wondered why she was asking such probing questions. Then he realized that when you choose one life, you have to give up others. He told her that he had met her mother at a Vesak pandal and he could not take his eyes off her. He also told her it was blind luck that he was at the pandal that day.

The girl he met at the pandal was not a highly educated girl. She had passed her GCE O/L examination, but she had some inexplicable charm about her. Later he learnt that she had been interested in another young man. However, after meeting Roy, she made a clean break from him.

His daughter asked him why such unpredictable things happen in life. Roy thought for a moment and said, “Life is a kind of riddle. Nobody knows who you are destined to marry. If the timing had been different and the distance less daunting, I could have ended up with a Catholic girl or a law student. I think luck plays a major role in marriage. Sometimes, you meet your partner in the most unexpected places. Or you may never meet your partner. That’s your destiny,” he told his daughter.

Sometimes, time sweeps us along and puts us in a certain place where we are faced with one option or another. By chance and by the choices we make, we leave behind many other partners we could have lived with happily or otherwise. We could have enjoyed different passions and joys, different problems and disappointments.

Roy could have missed his visit to the Vesak pandal. Or his girlfriend could have married someone else. Most husbands and wives shudder to think what would have happened to their lives if they had married different partners.

Made in heaven

Christians believe that marriages are made in heaven. There may be some truth in this because you never know who you are going to get married to until the marriage takes places. There is a proverbial saying coming down from the 17th century that “Marriage is a lottery.” It referred to one’s choice of partner, or more generally to the element of chance involved in how a marriage will turn out.

George Eliot is closer to the truth when he said, “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.”

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