I start the year 2015 with some creativity. This is a story that I have had in mind for some time, but only got around to writing now. Do let me know if you like it
I listened to your show again last night, and it was splendid as ever. Every time that I listen to it, I think it just gets better. Your voice becomes sweeter. Your words sound like music to my ears. It’s like our own version of a romantic date. I wish I wouldn’t have to wait a whole two weeks to go on these dates.
And this is why I have decided to marry, Veena. I want to meet a beautiful, nice young girl from your country, just like you. I want a girl with a melodious voice, who sings to me when I am sad, speaks with the most beautiful accent, shies away when I approach her – just like in the movies! I want a gentle-hearted, cheerful and honest young girl. And I think the only place in the world where I can find a girl like that, is your beautiful country. Will you help me find one?
I look forward to your next show.
This is when he started looking for a girl to fall in love with. To marry and settle down with. He had been alone, in a big, busy land for a long time now. And now he said he wanted to find peace. He thought he could find peace in a woman he loved. He wanted to marry someone from my country- a land that he believed had only beautiful and honest people. Because that is what he heard from us on the radio. Every weekend, he would turn the radio on at 10 o’ clock at night, and as he prepared for bed, he would listen to stories that we told him about our land. He would listen to folk tales of young love, stories that we tell little children before bed, legends about wondrous palaces and gardens throughout the country. We would play songs from old movies, and songs about festivals and frolicking. Oh! What a happy picture we drew! Reporting about the wars, the politics, and the corruption wasn’t our job. We were there to make people feel good about the beautiful things in the world after a hard day of work.
And that is exactly what he heard too. He would listen joyfully to the stories and laugh at every joke we made in the middle. He would come back from work, turn on the radio, and listen to our show while he cooked himself a meal. After his meal, he would get into bed, turn off the light, and fall asleep listening to the music from the old movies. This is what he did every single day.
Or at least this is what he told us through his letters. He wrote every other week. One of our most dedicated listeners, and a special fan of mine. Never missed a show. I did the show at this time every alternate week. Lata and Mani, my co-workers, did the rest.of the weeks’ shows.
All three of us were
But he never wrote to them as diligently as he did to me. Lata and Mani would often tease me that he had a crush on me, and said if I wasn’t in a country hundreds of miles away, he would probably have asked me to marry him by now. Well, they did, until they read this letter.
It definitely had us a little puzzled. But then not so much after a while. He seemed to be a lonely young man. Taking the time to write a letter to someone you never met, every week, wouldn’t be an easy job if you had a family, would it? He had a shop that sold knick knacks so I am guessing he didn’t make much money either. But he seemed to be a happy man. A little dreamy, but happy.
Anyway, so we decided to do something for a devoted listener. We decided to look for a girl. Well, I did. I started a small matrimonial segment on my show. For five minutes, I would appeal to all the singles in the world (or whoever was listening to us) who were looking for love, to tell us what they liked. And I put them in touch with each other by giving them another suitor’s mailing address.
The segment became more popular than I expected. We started getting flooded with letters, from young and old men and women telling us what they liked and who they were looking for. Sometimes we got pretty interesting letters from long lost lovers who were looking for their mates from years ago. We even got a letter from a man who asked us to announce his marriage proposal to his girlfriend on the radio.
But the real flood of letters was, as expected, from Alexander. He started sending us bi-weekly letters, first thanking us, then describing to us what he was looking for in the girl that he wanted to marry.
Such obsession with finding a foreign girl to marry was strange for us. Alexander had taken no time to become the butt of all our jokes on account of the frequency of his letters. But now it even got more ridiculous, with his long, eloquent descriptions of his dreams of marrying an innocent, young girl from a land he had never been to and perhaps would never be able to visit. How were we supposed to find him a suitable match, sitting miles away from him over the radio? You couldn’t even see the person you were talking to, or talking about! Such illusions, the radio manages to create, is something I realized every single time I read Alexei’s letters.
I found it slightly adorable that he wanted so much to marry. It worried me a little, but what could I do? I continued with my search for the perfect girl for Alexei, writing to him about different girls who wrote in to us, also looking for a suitable young man. Much delusional and naïve like Alexei himself.
A few months later, after a long series of conversations about dates with these women and how they never seemed to be The Right One for Alexei, we got a letter from him saying that he had met someone. A girl from my country at last. She had walked into his store looking for trinkets for her friend and Alexei and her hit it off.
Soon we started getting letters from him talking excitedly about how beautiful and how lovely she was and how much they adored each other’s company. Lata and Mani’s jokes by now had changed too. They said I was like his walking-talking personal diary. A pen friend that he confides in but can’t confess his love to.
But anyway, that didn’t bother me so much. I was happy for him. Our segment on matrimonials was also seeming to be quite a success. Everything was good in the world. One of those days Alexei even wrote to us that he planned to propose to his now-girlfriend Nazmi. He was in love with her, and she was all that he had been looking for.
And then his letters stopped.
Well, they ceased for a bit. This was very unlike Alexei. From writing almost twice every week his letters reduced to zero? And suddenly!
At first, we all assumed he had married that girl and was busy in his new life. Then we got a little worried. And then, we forgot about it.
But three months later, we got a letter from him again. His handwriting was slightly different this time. Slightly shaky, not as clear and composed as before. It looked like he had written this in a hurry, and not taken his time with it like he used to.
He had written to us, (all right, to me), saying that Nazmi and him broke up. As it turns out, she was already married. Alexei found out the day he asked her to marry him. She got panicky and confessed that she had been seeing Alexei behind her husband’s back all this while. She said she could not choose between Alexei and her husband.
Alexei said he was heart-broken. He broke up with Nazmi – she had lied to her. But he couldn’t stop thinking about her. He stopped going to his shop and lay in bed till he ran out of food, and till his water supply and electricity got cut off because of unpaid bills.
But now, he is trying to get back on to his feet slowly. He has started going to his shop again. Business is not that good anymore but he is making do.
I wrote back to him saying I was sorry for what had happened, and he was a good man who didn’t deserve it. But what more could I say? I told him that there was more to life than girls and he must find another purpose in life now. And if he still was looking for a girl, then the matrimonial segment was still on and we would love to help.
He replied just once, and with one word – Thanks.
And then we never heard from him again.
Life moved on. But some things changed after Alexei’s last letter. We stopped the matrimonial section altogether. I am not sure whether we stopped it because we felt guilty, or because it had started to wane in popularity anyway. Mani left the radio and started her career as a stay-at-home wife. I got married and had a little girl in the next year. Lata still comes for the show, but now she doesn’t seem so interested in a show she has been doing for the last 5 years.
I often wonder what happened of Alexander. Did he look for a new girl? Did he find one? Or did he give up on them altogether? Did he get back on to his feet after all? What happened to his dream of a foreign girl to marry?
I have often thought of writing to him. But I can never bring myself to it. The show is still on. Maybe someday he will write to us himself…maybe not….