Romance Sad

He sat there looking at the photos. Although they were almost 40 years old, they were in mint condition. The photo album he bought to preserve them cost a small fortune but it was worth every dime. This was all he had left of her, this and the memories in his heart.

Every so often he would hear a song on the radio or see a face that sort of resembled hers and it would tug at his heart with such a weight as to take his breath away. They say people don't die from a broken heart but he knew a little piece of him died every day from the moment she left him.

They were 22 when they met. They thought it funny that their birthdays were only being 3 days apart. She has just graduated with her BA in Psychology and was now working at the University so she could get free tuition to start working on her Masters.

When he got out of high school, his brother helped him get a job at the University in the printing department. He had started out as an intern but by the time they met, four years later, he had worked himself up to the Assistant Manager of the entire Dept.

He was making a good salary for a young man, who was still living at home with his wealthy parents and he had money to burn. She was struggling and barely could pay the rent on her tiny apartment.

They started off as friends.  A group of them, all about the same age, working in different departments at the University used to take lunch together in the University square.

It was her and her friend Darlene, they both worked in the Records Dept., and him and Caesar, from the Printing Dept. and two from Registrar and a guy from Accounting.

They used to take their lunch break and eat, and smoke a little pot. Caesar always had some pot. It was really Caesar who introduced them, he liked her first.

"Come on man, Joel, there is a group of us hanging out at the plaza for lunch. One of the girls from the Record Dept. is a cutie pie, and I am determined to get a slice." Caesar said, winking.

Joel thought that Caesar had more girls than he knew what to do with now. They were constantly calling him at work and he was always finding reasons to knock off early. It really should have been him that got the promotion to Asst. Manager because he had seniority but his job performance was a serious issue.

Joel had gone because Caesar had good taste in women and if he thought she was cute, she most definitely was.

When Joel first laid eyes on her, she was laughing at something Darlene had told her and her laughter was like music to his ears. She was so full of life that it radiated from her like a beam of light. He was drawn to her instantly like a moth to a flame.

She smiled when Caesar introduced them and he stood there like an idiot gasping for air and for words just looking at her.

She looked at Caesar, "Does he talk or does he just stand there looking cute."

He just stood there, blushing like he was a six year old school boy. He knew that some women found him attractive. He was about 5"9, slim but muscular with a Mediterranean olive complexion and a crown of dark black wavy hair. He had soft dark brown eyes with a very attractive face. He just wasn't used to women being so bold.

He finally got his breath and quietly said.

"Yes, I can talk and the same could be said about you too".

"What?" she said.

"I mean about being cute," he said, smiling from ear to ear.

Caesar saw the instant attraction between the two of them and knew he didn't stand a prayer so he immediately turned his attention toward her friend Darlene.

After that introduction they became inseparable. He couldn't get enough of her. They ate lunch together every day. He wined and dined her, they met each other's families and friends. He was in love and the whole world was a beautiful place because she was in it.

After two years of a world wind courtship he asked her to marry him.

"Joel, are you sure? Have you asked your family about this? They have tolerated our relationship up until this point but I don't think they thought it would ever go this far."

Joel knew that his parents still believed in arranged marriages and they had picked wives for his two older brothers but he did not believe in that practice. He thought it archaic and medieval.

"This is America and I am free and over 21. I can marry anyone I choose."

She heard the words coming out of his mouth but did he really have the courage to stand up to parents and hundreds of years of tradition. she doubted it. It would mean giving up his inheritance, she was sure they would cut him off without a penny. While she and her family had lived all her life barely making ends meet he was not accustomed to that lifestyle.

Joel went home that night to confront his family and assured her everything was going to be okay.

It was the beginning of the end. His father suddenly had to go back to his home country and Joel had to go with him. He was gone for almost a month with little word back to her.

While he was away his mother invited her over to the family house. This was a three story mansion in the best part of the city. His mother did her best to show her how she did not fit into their world.  Joel’s mother demanded to know if she was willing to embrace their beliefs and customs to be able to make her son a proper wife. Give up her deviant "American ways" that her son found attractive in a playmate but as a wife would be totally unacceptable.

When she left she was in tears and devastated. She left the beautiful diamond ring on the elegant mahogany dining room table.

She decided that in order for her to completely sever the relationship she needed to move.  She quit her job at the University and then left the city to move in with an old college friend.  She left strict orders with her family not to tell him where she had gone when or if he came looking.

When he came home it was like she had disappeared off the face of the planet. He searched and searched for her with no success. After a while he pinned so much his family became worried about his health and his mental state. They too try to find her.

A year later they finally had success but unfortunately for Joel she had married another and was with child.

With all hope gone, he agreed for his family to arrange his marriage to whoever they choose for what did it matter now.

Joel’s wife Anjonu saw him as she came quietly up the stairs.  There he was again looking at the old photos of the woman he never stopped loving.  Every once in a while throughout their whole marriage he would come and take out the old photo album that he thought was hidden from her and he would spend an hour or two reminiscing about what was and what could have been. 

March 11, 2022 20:57

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