Time and again he gazed at the pitch-black sky wondering what lay before him. Travelling back to the city he’d only hoped that something extraordinary would draw him back to his own home village of birth and upbringing. A letter read on his ride back to the very place he’d earned a living only brought tears to his eyes. The ride back to a place he had come to call home seemed strangely long, his mind constantly replaying the very vivid memories from before that troubled his mind a great deal. The most dreaded thought, the one he least wished to remember was that of the look of his father, glaring and breathing down his neck, full of disappointment. A sting to the eyes, the images became so real as he relived what was long past….
As per tradition, it was only right that the elderly found their loved son a woman, a bride to marry and settle down to start a family with. To fill the house with echoes of children’s laughter, fill the proud old man with appeasement and satisfy a growing woman’s desire to see the seed of her son. Even with the silvering of the hair on her head, if in her aging moments, she held in her hands the child born of the seed of her labour, a child of flesh and blood of her dear son, that would bring joy to her soul—but Jared refused to marry the woman chosen for him by his parents.
A youthful woman in her proudly portrayed feminine charm, her physique a striking resemblance of the now seemingly old looking woman who mothered her, the woman smiling behind a cup of drink offered to her treat, seeing her daughter dance for her soon to be bridegroom, she was pleased. But Jared wanted her not and as she went down on her knees in her betrothal, he outright refused her hand in marriage. A stun to the family and elders gathered round the table it was, gapping mouths and murmurings took forth, the sound of shattering glass as the girl’s mother lost grip of her cup, befuddled with the news.
“What was it that you said??” Jared’s old and traditionally brought up father asked rising to his feet almost immediately, shooting daggers at his son.
Feeling the intense heat rise, yet choosing to speak for himself, Jared spoke, “I’m not in love with her and neither am I taken by her delicacies. I find no interest in marrying a woman I shan’t see myself awaking beside each morning. She’s not to my liking.”
Shocking waves swept through the house, his mother eying him from her seat and in the corner of his eyes he could see her rise in displeasure, heading for the kitchen.
“Jared!” spoke his father, “Will you boldly speak as you desire in the presence of your elders? Insulting the daughter of a woman whose hand in marriage was promised long before you grew into the fine man you now are? A man carrying my name, to continue my family legacy. A proud boy I raised whom I went far and yonder to please and get the best of this village’s girls in my early days in preparation for this day and you freely disrespect me? Us all?”
Feeling the tension, Jared spoke still, “Forgive me father,” he turned to face the young girl, her face too petrified to tell if she could take the news lightly, having awaited this moment, yet denied the chance to behold the joy that came with it. Seeing the looks that not one but all gave him, Jared drew back momently. Eyes on him, then walked to the woman whose knees grew feeble then asked, “Woman, shall you marry a man whose heart is not after yours? All in the name of satisfying the belly of the family from the dowry I’m to pay for the one I do not love?”
“Jared!” his mother yelled as she dropped a plate of fruits, for in the midst of the confusion, she’d still sought to serve and treat their guests to a fine meal at the table, with some fleshy fruits as an appetiser—that now spread all over the floor, one landing beside the feet of Jared eying it, speechless before the young woman before him bent down to pick it and stretched forth her hand to him, in her humblest stature despite the shocking news she’d received piercing her soul.
“Some fine fruit for the man I knew not in my childhood days would grow to be you. A man whom I choose to be loyal to as long as there’s love to spare,” she said with much emotion, “Shall you take this from my hand and eat?”
“No!” Jared spoke strongly it without holding back his words.
“That’s it!” spoke his father and at once he walked to him in fury, “Pack your things and return to the city. I shan’t tolerate this from no child of mine. You’ve disrespected not only me, your mother but also the people whose daughter humbly betrothed herself to you. You’ve disgraced me. Until you learn of your mistake don’t come back here! You aren’t welcome!”
The bus halted and roared as Jared got pulled back to reality as he heard the cry of the bus conductor upon arrival for the passengers to disembark. With his luggage, he was back to the place he had grown to fend for himself having been educated there, he’d to returned to what wasn’t home. What he’d left behind was a place that had seen his childhood and youth but he chose to disobey his parents in search of love. To be home did he want to be but to be married in a village he wanted not. To be in love with a woman from the city he desired most but not for her beauty, nor charm, nor her stature but for her heart. A love that’s far beyond choice of another, for what the heart desires that which it seeks.
Alighting the bus, he walked into the city of the learned. A place he sought education from much to the desire of his father to have his son acquire that which he couldn’t in his upbringing. To provide for his dearest son what his father couldn’t provide for him, a chance to be educated and well taught in the civilised kind of way. Back to his lonely moments was Jared for the city was merely a place to walk like the rest of the friends, acquaintances he now had, like the people dwelling there. Back to his lonely rented home he was with the letter from his father in hand, in the brightness of a night lamp, he read what his father said. He was not to return to his family, to his home nor to his village, having behaved the way he did he only brought tears to his mother and displeasure to his father. But what was to be known and understood by people who knew and believed love to be but loyalty? Marriage to be but a planned event when the time was right? Marriage being set and organised without one’s chance to fall in love? To fall in love with a lovely and beautiful soul desired Jared. To be in love with a woman of his dreams did he seek.
But time and again he was either lucky to have found love for a moment seeming so fleeting but often unfortunate he was to be left by a woman he’d thought loved him dearly or having discovered her infidelity that he saw no point in being with her still. Years past, age was catching up with him, having had a taste of trial and sorrow that brought him to tears he reduced himself to a lowly drunk. Rolling he was in his filth and wasting away every opportunity he had to be happy in his achievements. He was at the brink of breaking. Wallowing in the dark corners shunned at night, bypassed by day, he only wished that he had explained to his family that which he sought in love. To be sorry that for in his desire to find a woman pleasing to himself, he had to be disrespectful. Nearly nine years of dead silence, ties cut off from his family, the only wish he had was to say sorry to those he wronged years back.
“If this is how it is, so be it,” he said shutting the eyes grown so heavy and dull, too drowsy to take note of a gang of thieves that crept on him to rob him off of his wallet and the little he had to his name. He slowly awaited death, having been badly injured. For what lay for him? Having not forgiven himself nor gotten the chance to apologise to the young woman he wronged years back, he only had the painful memories to tell him the story of old. In the twinkling of the eyes, shining of the tears dropping, a woman from beyond came to him and moved by his state took him with her and cared for him till he awoke. Awaking he did to the fragrance of a woman that had grown with so much elegance; beauty increased over the passing years. A well to do woman she’d become having received chance to come to the city to seek the man whose absence from whence she came was felt she only hoped to someday find him. In the long run, she’d given up on her search and her uncle who’d granted her an opportunity to be learned, she became an important woman figure. But, not once, did she lose the growing love in her. Having met a man chosen for her, merely for loyalty she owed him, and having lost and sought him, she finally learnt what love really was. Too astounded was Jared that that very woman was she whom he wished to apologise to for his past actions. He was too tongue tied to speak let alone believe that it was really her, after so long, it was her.
“I never once stopped loving you. Having met and sought a man I knew not even a thing about, but promised my hand in marriage, in my search for him I finally learnt how to love only him.”
All Jared could ask was, “But why? Even after what I did to you why still me? Why not another?”
With a heart-warming smile, the woman replied, “Because I fell in love with the only man to whom my heart belongs, that’s why.”
How many times are we ungrateful and seeking what’s out there unable to clearly see what’s before us? Unusual Love.