My Japanese Wife!

At a completely impersonal level, reading ‘The Japanese Wife’ was like waiting for a friend, who you are sure is only going to stand you up! From the very moment I had picked up the book I knew it would not have a happy ending. What I did not foresee though, was the ridiculous-ness of the proposition put forth in the story. And still, what astounded me most was that, somewhere deep down inside of me, I could empathize with Snehamoy’s character on many grounds.

The rational, pragmatic part of me begged myself to reject this story at first instance. Unlike Director Aparna Sen, who found the ‘improbable’ story ‘hauntingly beautiful’, I found the idea of falling in love over letters and spending the rest of your life together with only words and little tokens sent from the other for a company, a little less than ludicrous. How are people supposed to pledge eternal love and companionship when they have never even met the other person? Is it even remotely possible for two married people to live 20 years without ever actually seeing each other? And, whatever happened to conjugal rights?

However, that is where my criticism and disbelief end. After finishing the entire story it suddenly dawned on me that I could, in fact, relate. I have experienced something similar to the anxieties which the hapless Snehamoy in Bengal goes through, when his wife is sick in Japan. I can understand the sanctity he attached to each object that his wife has sent him over the years. In this age of internet and social networking sites, I still treasure a letter from a loved one.

So maybe I am no Math tutor from Bengal, but a mere law-student in Kerala. And maybe the person is not Miyage (meaning ‘gift’, in Japanese) but Liang Le (in Mandarin, the words translate to ‘cool happy’). Still, the important part of the story is that I love her, and I hate the fact that I can not catch-up with her over Tom-Yams and Chicken drumsticks at the college canteen anymore!

My story is quite the reverse of their love story in ‘The Japanese Wife’. I got to spend two long and eventful years with Liang Le before I decided to move back to India and take up law.

It was half-way through a boring tutorial that she popped the question. After considering the question and toying with the idea for about 5 seconds, I told her ‘yes’. To my great indignation, she casually let me know that she had decided to withdraw the proposal. In retrospect, if I had learnt Contracts then, I could have probably sued her for breach of contract!

And so, we never really got to put a ring to our relationship. Nevertheless, it was something that the heavens had conspired to weave into existence. I loved the way we could be each others greatest critics and still wind up being each others greatest fans. I loved the way we used to leave other people rather ‘blur’ while we were immersed in debates over something we had come across in Newsweek, The Economist, Time or The Wall Street Journal – Asia. I loved the fact that her favourite stall in the canteen was the Indian stall and mine was the Chinese stall.

There were trying times too; somewhere early in our second year at junior college Liang Le discovered she had a strange condition that had presently paralysed her right hand and right leg. She spent almost 3 months in hospital going through Physiotherapy and gaining back control over her limbs. I tried to play my part by visiting her with all the school work and gossip she had missed out on.

At the end of the two years, before I took my flight home, Liang Le and I made a pact that she and I would write to each other and send it by the good old means of the postal service. Just to ensure that I kept up my end of the bargain, she slipped in her first letter along with my parting gift.

Although we escaped the awkwardness of getting to know each other over letters, we were not spared of the excitement that fills our heart when we see a post with the other person’s handwriting on it, or the eagerness and impatience that consumes us before we finally manage to sit down at the end of the day, and read a long-awaited letter.

Distance definitely does make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes it so much harder when you know your loved one was undergoing a surgery when you were busy rebuking them in your head for being so tardy in their replies.

Liang Le and I plan on meeting up after graduation. For now, despite Facebook and Twitter, all we have to remain in touch are those letters; those are the only physical proof of her in my life. And, that makes her my Japanese (read – Singaporean) Wife!

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Comments
2 Responses to “My Japanese Wife!”
  1. wahaha! i’m reading it 😀

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