Current Issue

Soul mate

Sunil Sharma

…remember June of 2018?

You quoted Pushkin that came as a surprise. I had come to know you in few hours of an unlikely rendezvous in a strange city; found you unpredictable. Enjoyed the swings, transitions.

Pushkin in Venice!
I was floored.
—You, a poet?
—No, you said. Love poetry. The effect was tremendous. Or, was it the setting?

The mood?

The person?

Or, all of them, as a combination?

Don’t know.

One thing is certain. I got electrified by the lyrical fragment and the magic it unleashed.

Everything changed.

Solidity—as rendered in soft focus. The damp breeze grew scented; birds sang sweetly; the dull turned luminous, while we sailed:

Still I remember you appear Before me like a vision fleeting, A beauty’s angel pure and clear.

How romantic!

Neruda quoted in Paris.

In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, while taking a selfie; out of the blue, in a sonorous voice, a recitation that altered everything for me:

My love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine

How much I enjoyed your company! Clear laughter. The frankness of the eyes and the voice. The natural candor.

The simplicity. The unpretentiousness. Alive, in a deadening landscape.

We crafted dreams. Things moved fast. I was happy. The online dating games were exhausting.

Finding love, especially for a young immigrant, is difficult in a foreign city. You were different.
Those last seven days!
We had become friends from utter strangers.

I wanted that status to change—from friends to lovers, and then, legally wedded couple.

Frankly, I had never bothered about arts. Never heard about these writers. I was not keen to know them further. My mind only understands figures, columns and calculations. Rest matters not.

But I was intrigued.
How did a computer professional know literature? Engineers are creative, somebody once told me.
I agree.
You discussed places. Music. Painting. Fashion. Street food. My soul mate, I said.
My real love of life!

You smiled.


Over the weekend, you said you were OK with marriage.

That night, I could not sleep.

We decided to catch up in New York.

Things changed there.

You wanted more time.

I agreed.

The conversation grew short.

Then stopped.

After three weeks, I sent the following lines:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks/ But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

Got a terse query: Since when an accountant turned literary? After separation, I wrote back.
The answer never arrived.
Can people be so fickle in a market economy?

The hurt did not show. Immigrant friends told me of similar betrayals. —We no longer believe in romance, they said. All crap!
I nodded. We were automatons battling hard for more profits.

Yesterday, I saw you in Central Park. You did not notice me, lost in your own world.

Quoting Petrarch, in a sonorous voice, over cell phone!


Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015. Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:

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