A tale of two hearts
The train I was travelling by, reached Ragama railway station. The
moment the train stopped at the station, a mob of commuters rushed into
our carriage as the earlier train had been cancelled and the two train
loads of travellers got into our train.
A girl clad in a skirt and blouse was pushed towards me by the
struggling crowd. She had some parcels in both her hands and I noticed
that she found it difficult to travel standing on the fast moving train.
Realising her difficulty, I offered my seat to her. Later, I saw her
looking at me several times and when the train stopped at Fort railway
station I alighted from the train and went to office as usual.
The following day she got into the same carriage at Ragama and smiled
at me faintly. She was a comely young girl who dressed neatly and looked
elegant. Then for a whole week I did not see her and the next Monday I
saw her get into another railway carriage. At the next station I changed
into the bogie the girl had entered and stood close to her. She was with
a group of girls.
I liked her outward appearance with her proportionate trim figure,
curly black hair and her clear cut features.
If she did not get into the carriage I was in, I changed into the
carriage she got into, at the next station.
Whenever I looked at her full into her face, I noticed that she moved
emotionally and her cheeks turned pink. I thought of speaking with her a
few words and I was waiting for a suitable opportunity.
knew that she travelled from Ragama to Colombo Fort. One day, I thought
of following her when she got off the train at Fort railway station. I
saw her get off the train and in no time, she merged into the multitude
of commuters and disappeared. I came out of the station and looked
around and saw her walking down the Olcott Mawatha briskly. I ran after
her and caught up with her. Hearing my footfalls she looked back and saw
me. She smiled lavishly as if she had expected such a thing to happen.
“Where do you work?”
Whilst walking abreast with her, I broke the ice.
“In a private sector company.”
“Could you name it?”
Without much ado, she named the company.
“Your office is in York Street, why are you walking along Olcott
“I am going to church to attend the morning service. After attending the
service I go to office.”
“Shall I also come with you to Church?”
Again she smiled.
She went with me to the church along Olcott Mawatha. By the time we
arrived at the church the morning service had already started. She
requested me to wait till the service was over, at a place in the church
premises and she went into the church. When the service was over she
came back and joined me.
Since then we had been travelling together in the train from Ragama
to Colombo Fort. In the evenings we travelled separately as I left my
work place early and she left half an hour later.
Days turned to weeks, weeks into months and months into year. During
this period of twelve months, our relationship grew into a full-fledged
love affair. We found that we were an agreeable young man and a young
woman. There were no disputes or disagreements whatsoever between us
that we practised two different religions. At this stage of our
courtship, we could not take the next step because of her very firm
belief in her religion, Christianity. I wanted her to convert herself to
be a Buddhist. She kept mum with a very serious expression on her face
toying with the tiny crucifix she wore on a thin gold chain around her
“We will go on an outing.”
“Your birthday is falling next Monday. On that day we will go”
“I can’t take leave on Mondays.”
“Ok... definitely next Tuesday”
Next Tuesday, I waited at the Ragama railway station for her. I saw
her coming towards me with a pleasant smile on her face and she was in a
very happy mood. She was wearing one piece, light pink frock with
bell-shaped short sleeves which fell about six inches below the knees
and the gown brought her graceful, proportionate trim figure into
Her feet were in flat soled black shoes. She looked elegant and
beautiful in her deportment.
“You are very beautiful today. I feel like giving you a big hug!”
She got closer to me and whispered into my ear. I smelt the fragrance of
Afterwards, we arrived at the Pettah main bus stand.
“Where are we going?”
“There is a very nice place. We will take Avissawella bus and reach
Our bus passed Maharagama, Homagama and after passing Panagoda, I
recognised the place and at the next bus halt we got down and walked
back. Before entering the premises, we looked over the place standing on
the road. The restaurant was in the middle of a large plot of land,
about two acres in extent. The fence at the front of the restaurant was
fully covered with morning glory creepers with bluish green, palmated
leaves and lots of trumpet-shaped purple flowers all over the fence
appeared like an artificial decoration.
We went into the restaurant and had some sweets and fruit juice. Only
a few customers were there. Two cars were parked at a corner of the car
park and some small children were frolicking in the open; they ran
aimlessly all over the place enjoying themselves.
It seemed that they had fallen in love with the grassy, spacious
ground and the golden sunshine that embraced everything.
We ambled in the well maintained garden with big boulders in
different shapes and sizes were placed at several places to give it a
natural look. Here and there, stood big shady trees. Monika wanted to
sit and walk in the arbour onto which bougainvillea shrubs were trained
and the long stems with deep pink floral bracts drooped down the
structure on all sides.
“As you said, this place is very nice and I like it very much”, she
said in admiration of the place. She was in a very happy and cheerful
We walked round the entire garden admiring the lovely place and
returned to the arbour and sat on the concrete bench.
“I smell a sweet fragrance.”
Monika said smiling.
“That’s the sweet fragrance of love between you and me!”
She looked at me meltingly and burst into a loud laugh and abandoned
herself to her music-like cachinnation like a small child.
“This is the ideal time for us to sort out our problem once and for
“My dear girl, you know very well, it needs a solution acceptable to
both of us.”
A serious expression came onto Monika’s face. Her fingers gripped her
crucifix she wore on the gold chain around the neck and she kept on
changing it from one hand to the other.
After a long pause, Monika spoke,
“By birth I have been a Christian, you are a Buddhist; you can
practise your religion, I will continue to practise mine.”
“I am afraid, I cannot accept your arrangement. What about the next
generation? Which religion will our children practise?”
Monika did not reply.
“Only thing we can do is either I have to give up Buddhism or you
have to convert to my religion. What shall we do”?
Another round of silence separated us for a long time.
“This is a very bitter and grave situation we are facing now. In the
interest of both, we have to make the correct decision. If one of us
change mind, we can meet, otherwise we will never meet again.”
The moment I uttered these words I felt that my life was like a kite
that had got detached from its guiding string and floating in the sky.
What a painful experience it was! I was marooned in the middle of a
desert. Monika loved me with her heart and soul. My love for her is
deeper because I had not loved anybody, nobody had loved me either. I
had not been grown up in the bosom of a family comprising parents,
brothers and sisters.
How precious is Monika to me. I like her clear soft voice. I like her
bright beautiful eyes. I like her serene winsome smile. In her voice I
feel love. During the period of our love affair I was happier and
Now I feel my life is empty and purposeless. I had lots of dreams and
plans; at present, I am a disappointed, depressed person who has lost
interest in everything.
Sometimes, I feel I have committed a very grave crime and I am guilty
conscious of forcing her to give up her religion.
Her love for her faith and her love for me is equally strong, as I
understand. She does not like to get away from both attachments and she
requests me to practise my religion and seeks my permission to practise
hers. If I cannot give up my religion, how can she give up hers?
You can throw away a garment when it is no longer needed. But a
person whom you love ardently and who loves you in return in the same
manner cannot be forgotten or got rid of easily.
I cannot resist the urge in me to see her again, to listen to her
voice, to experience the aura of love hovering around her. Love is a
very strong and complex emotion that gives wings to the young to
overcome all barriers to achieve their object of love.
To meet her, I am eagerly waiting till tomorrow.