She was a true British girl with a very methodical mind. We were together in a specialised institute at Oxford Street. Someone has said that fiction, as it does come from imagination of some fellow human being, does not have the same attraction.
PAST THE Big Ban, past the West Minister Bridge, take a left turn and down few steps – you are at the Queens Way. The very first thing you notice is the poem of an unknown poet inscribed in the middle of the road on the cobble stone.
I wonder thro each chartered street
Near where the chartered Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness marks of woe.
In every cry of every man
In every infants cry of fear
In every voice in every ban
The mind-forged mangles I hear.
That was the placid and pleasant spot where Rose Mann had invited me to spend our last evening in London together decades ago.
She was a true British girl with a very methodical mind. We were together in a specialised institute at Oxford Street. Someone has said that fiction, as it does come from imagination of some fellow human being, does not have the same attraction, because it is not true. To me truth is more appealing than fiction. Rose was a milky white brunette from Sussex and I was a sallow complexioned boy from Bombay. For some unknown reasons we developed liking for each other.
One day she quoted someone that when the oak tree is felled, the whole forest echoes with it. I refuted her argument by quoting the same writer – a hundred acorns are planted silently by some unnoticed breeze. That argument sealed our friendship and she invited me to join her at Hyde Park’s Speaker Corner next Sunday.
Days and nights went by in London as the time got wings. We didn’t know how far we had traveled till one day she asked an unexpected question – “Why do we care for each other so much?” I wanted to reply that because we love each other. I had lost my bearing with that question and I said that I didn’t know. I was nervous and perspiring that moment in that cozy winter day. She was somber and composed. “I shall tell you. You love me and want to marry me.” There was a pause after that.
I found no courage to pursue the subject any more. However, every Sunday she would come from Sussex to Turnham Green accommodation. We would spend the time together till 4 PM at any place of our predilection. Tempus fugit and the day arrived when I was going back to India with my Certificates minus Rose Mann.
“Would you like to join me at Queens Way, just on the other side of Thames?” She had invited me in unique British style that was exuding her superiority. It was an order that must be obeyed. “I am ready to go anywhere you want.” I replied but my self-confidence was badly missing.
That last rendezvous was fixed by Rose. I reached the corner of West Minister Bridge and she was there to welcome me. She had a shining packet containing a set fountain pen and ball pen.
“This pen-set is for you as you love writing and there is nothing powerful in the world than a pen. I wish you the best.”
“Rose, I got nothing for you as I could conceive nothing which corresponds your excellence.” I said.
“I want nothing. Just remember me.” She said in respectable tone.
We talked upon many subject including our future life. It was the first day and first time when I had tried to go fast on Rose.
“Rose do you know that there would always be a vacuum without you in life.”
“I shall miss you too.”
“How do you feel as I am departing?” I asked.
“Little relieved. You have achieved your goal and you have a bright future. Honey, We always knew – we were poles apart. It is better to love than get married. Had I married you today, I would be a stale dish tomorrow morning and that is what Bernard Shaw had said. Now, from now onwards, the sweet memories of the time we had together would give fragrance to our live till we die. So we will always be together. You know I’m British and it’s the true British love.”