Monday, July 24, 2006

The Love Story of Amar and Madhuri

wherein Amar inflicts on the reader every cliche and formulaic phrase of pulp, low-brow romance, and takes the blog to new pornographic lows

Monks, I know of no other single form by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by that of a woman. Monks, a woman’s form obsesses a man’s heart. Monks, I know of no other single sound by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by the voice of a woman. Monks, a woman’s voice obsesses a man’s heart. Monks, I know of no other single scent... savour... touch by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by the scent, savour, and touch of a woman. Monks, the scent, savour and touch of a woman obsess a man’s heart.

- The Buddha, in Anguttara Nikaya. From The Book of the Gradual Sayings (translator F.L. Woodward)

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love
- from the poem Locksley Hall by Alfred Tennyson

We don't deny we are romantics. Hot blooded young men we may be, and the summer months may inspire lust and unreason, but during these glorious long summer days we also like to linger over a drink or five and reflect on love and times past, contemplating what was and what might have been, and of course, what will never be.

It was in such a frame of mind that I wrote to Akbar and Anthony about Madhuri the other day. She left at the end of spring, but I still remember her fragrance, I still remember her loveliness. And in the heat of the summer, I find myself longing for her, and if you will excuse my indelicacy, to smell her, to touch her, to taste her again.

Akbar wrote back, thoroughly bemused. 'Are you sure there was a Madhuri?' he enquired. "I remember seeing you with an Ina, a Mina and a Dika, and also a Seeta and a Geeta, but not this Madhuri of whom you speak!"

Anthony wrote back to Akbar, "You don't remember Madhuri? The girl who used to smile at you in the library?"

Akbar: "Smiling at whom?! Amar? Was Madhuri at university with us? I can't remember meeting her at all! I seem to be forgetting lot of things these days, but nothing so significant as this Madhuri. Remind me who she was!"

So I wrote to them about a perfect day, the first time when...

Amar: I still remember the first time I saw Madhuri...I was standing in the Quad, smoking a borrowed cigarette and exchanging jokes with my sidekicks, when she walked past and into my life. She had just arrived from Bombay a week before, but I didn't know that yet. As she strode confidently across the square, time itself seemed to stand still in silent admiration. A strong gust of wind blew her hair across her face, and she shook her head instinctively to clear her vision. That's when she saw me, standing there with my eyes on her, mouth wide open, cigarette falling out. She laughed, and life was never the same again.

You really don't remember Madhuri?

In fact, Akbar really did not remember. And with good reason. While the university days of 1997 and 1998 were certainly the halcyon days for the gang, Madhuri was not the girl I was describing above. In those days I didn't smoke, I didn't have side-kicks, but I did hang around in the Quad, and though this may have already happened in some Bollywood film, or indeed might one day when they find my script, it never happened in real life. The truth is as follows:

The True Story of Amar and Madhuri

I had first heard of Madhuri way back in my youth - everyone loved her, said such wonderful things about her. But growing up as I did, she seemed distant, unattainable, a vision of perfection only to be admired from far. I was curious about her, would have liked to have known her, but it was just not possible, I was always travelling in strange climes, she was at home and there too she moved in exclusive circles, our paths never seemed to cross, and so I slowly started to forget about her. But then this spring suddenly, out of the blue, we met in a fruit and vegetable shop in the dodgy desi area here in Phoren. It was an unlikely place to meet. But there she was, like me, far from home, a stranger in a distant land. It meant something. I fell in love at first sight. The romance was sweeter than anything I had ever known, and the affair was as passionate as it was brief. I have said it already, but I repeat myself for emphasis. Her fragrance, her beauty, her touch, and finally, her taste - I had never known anything like it. But all love ends in loss or death, and she left without warning as spring drew to a close.

And all that was left was Amar, and her memory. And now when I sit here with my wine glass and think of her, there is a verse from Khayyam which comes to mind.

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

And that my friends, is the true story of Amar and Madhuri.

ps: While to me, she will always be Madhuri, I should probably disclose that you may also know her as the alphonso mango.