Thursday, September 5, 2019


I have a story to tell. It's a lovely, human story and this is a time when we can all use lovely, human stories to remind us that we are not the lowest of all species on the planet Earth.

The story starts many years ago, in the 1950s, when an undergraduate student (that was me) fell in love with another undergraduate student--who did not fall in love with him. Instead, she fell in love with another undergraduate student, a ridiculously handsome, charming man from India, who also fell in love with her. This was a time when interracial relationships, let alone marriages, were "not on." Ancient and powerful social conventions militated against the couple, as did her family. Perhaps his family, too.

It was after we all left Cambridge and went out on our (initially) separate ways that I met up again with this young woman in London. I still loved her, and engaged her in a brief, rather stormy and, on my side, sadly immature relationship. Even after we broke up, even after years of wandering, marriage, settling down, having family and eventually growing old I never forgot this first real love of my life. She remained always in some quiet corner of my mind. It was humbling to discover, many years later, when I actually found her on the internet and we had a friendly exchange of emails, that she scarcely remembered me at all!

Which is not the end of the story. That exchange of emails took place ten years ago. (There was hope in the air; Obama was elected president!) It was a short while ago that I began to think about those youthful days again and decided to say hello. I wrote an email. It bounced back. I wrote to her old college, which is how I had found her in the first place. They had no updated information. I went back through our emails for possible clues. Looked up a friend or two she had mentioned. One had died, another was untraceable. Remembered she had a daughter with the same name as my daughter and searched for her.

I had almost given up on finding her when I recalled the name of her Indian friend at Cambridge and googled him. Found his name quite readily and noted that he'd had a distinguished career in the field of education. Discovered that he had a Facebook page. Facebook! Ridiculous! I went there, only to ascertain that his wall had gone unused for the past two years. Still, I messaged him, without much hope that he would ever receive my message and reply. Besides, he had more than likely lost contact with her after all these years. We are all now in our 80s...

To say I was surprised to receive a response from him only a couple of hours later is a wild understatement. And not only had I managed, against all odds, to find him, I had found him, to my absolutely amazement, with her! At that moment! In Australia, where I knew she had been living for many years. Both of them now widowed, they had reconnected several years ago and have been seeing each other regularly since then.

Kind of a fairy-tale ending for them, then. I hope they both had long and happy marriages. I hope they each had, still have, wonderful children and grandchildren. But--perhaps this is nothing more than romantic fantasy on my part!--the thought of a couple reunited after so long a separation, one caused by nothing more than long-discredited social racial prejudice brings hope and joy to this old, not quite yet jaded heart.

So that's my story for the day. I don't know how much I have invented, how much misremembered. But I'm sticking to it.

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