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 Post subject: My first love
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 3:49 pm 
My first love

By Amarnath Paul
@ The Island

I hurried away from the sweltering heat into the pleasant air-conditioned food court in Kollupitiya to get my Sri Lankan "buth" parcel. Crowded it was, as usual, mostly with young, sophisticated lovers gazing at each other while an untouched bottle of coke stood sentinel. Scurrying back to the basement car park with lunch in hand, I collided into a radiant looking mother with a young girl in tow. Before I could apologize, we stood there briefly, completely dumfound. My adrenaline pumped vigorously. My heart, with its new carbon valves, courtesy of modern medical expertise, were thumping like those monster drills searching for oil! Dreams of yesterday exploded and waves crashed on to the rocks’ of memory. "Is it you, Chitra"? I stammered. "Yes, of course", she replied, cheeks turning pink with excitement, recognition and pure surprise.


The year was 1958. I began my adolescent years under the strict custody of my aunt at Peradeniya Road in Kandy. There were five houses in a row and my tender emotions were attached to house No. 3, where Chitra lived. She was a sinuous little doe-eyed girl with black curls dangling about her ears. My heart fluttered every time I saw her and this new sensation spurred me on. We enjoyed the softball cricket played regularly amongst neighbours. It allowed me to show off my batting prowess to the first lady of my life. One eventful Sunday morning I thumped the tennis ball straight into her fragile nose. Blood gushed out like the leaky tap in my Aunt’s front garden! All hell broke loose as a sobbing Chitra was carried home. Trouble came in double quick time for me. My bottom smarted after my Aunt’s bamboo cane did its nasty job. I was suspended from playing cricket. I was constantly terrified of Chitra’s father whom I thought looked like Yul Brynner in the movie, "Dirty Dozen"! But, time is a phenomenal healer. Soon we were all playing softball cricket again. The romantic hero was back, so was my heartthrob. The chemistry of love had begun...

The first letter

Very soon, Chitra set in motion a routine. She would sit at the doorstep every weekend at a particular time. I did the same, pretending to clean my cricket bat until my Aunt went marketing. It was all so uncomplicated. The glances, the smiles, the whole body language was amazing, sweet as candy! Weeks went by. The urge to reach greater heights was simmering inside me, like my Aunt’s scrumptious cabbage soup! I decided on the big step, to put pen to paper and express my feelings. I vigorously coached and coerced my junior boarder to pass a letter to Chitra. He had no options. His failure would be dealt with severely by me. These were the delightful little advantages of being a senior!

The first ever letter I wrote to a good looking girl was accompanied with the Elvis Presly hit of that time, "Are you lonesome tonight?" Segar, my errand boy accomplished the first mission successfully. He walked straight past Chitra’s doorstep and dropped the letter at my lady love’s feet and returned like a speeding Morris Minor! I was ecstatic. Chitra was in seventh Heaven!

The reply

A week later, a more bolder and beautiful Chitra was ready with a reply and motioned me to send Segar. The young courier was again reluctant and nervous. But, the usual routine threat and intimidation were adequate weapons to spur the young cub. Soon he was on his way. Minutes seemed agonizingly long. Butterflies waltzed inside my stomach. At long last, I saw my messenger boy hurrying back to safety with the precious reply. Love was in the air for sure, and it was my inaugural sleepless night. The morning after, I felt like a quixotic celluloid Star. I could not devour my favourite string hoppers, beef curry and pol sambol. My whole world had turned delightfully upside down and I loved every minute of it.


First love can become overwhelming, dizzying and inspirationally motivating. Days went by. Nights were fuelled by sweet dreams. I was ready with my second love letter, this time accompanied by the Hank Locklin favorite, "send me the pillow that you dream on". Segar had become difficult and sulky, but this time I bribed him with five "Bulto" toffees for which I spent 10 cents. The courier boy was again primed to go, on a cloudless Saturday morning to deliver my precious cargo. Chitra sat at her doorstep in a stunning canary yellow frock. The stage was set. More than half way down his usual path, disaster struck like lightning. My whole sweet world melted like an ice cream in the hot sun. My Aunt appeared around the corner. Her marketing had been far too brief today. Chitra vanished from the unscripted scene. I froze. Segar floundered, lost control of himself. Seeing his faltering gait, my Aunt stopped in his stride and pointed questioningly at the piece of pink writing paper in his trembling hands. Promptly the letter was handed over, followed by a frightful explanation of the truth, and nothing but the truth.

What came next were weeks of heartbreak and sorrow that I had never known in my life. I became passionate about Jim Reeves and his sentimental crooning. I never got to see Chitra again. A month later, my Aunt successfully installed me in the College boarding and that is where I was till I left school as a more mature, young man.

Now, here she was, standing in front of me after almost half a decade, unscathed by the ravages of time. The little girl with her, reminiscent in black curls and a pair of canary yellow shorts looked a picture of the mother. She brought back nostalgic, sugar-coated memories: The pretty damsel, way back in time, down Peradeniya Road, in house No. 3, seated elegantly at her doorstep, awaiting my love letter. And, probably dreaming of a rose-petal strewn future, that did not come true for either of us...

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