As a ninteen-year-old summer-holidaying on a cruise boat, life was ideal. Of all the memories a holiday can hold, I remember clearly: reading out all my books, one after another, hurriedly, atop a lone beach bed, in the middle of the sea. I turned to the on-board library for company.
Over two such nights I read Richard Bach’s ‘Bridge Across Forever.’ As a terribly angular teenager there’s no more compelling message (in a bottle) than this: “If you’ve ever felt alone in a world of strangers, missing someone you’ve never met, you’ll find a message from your love in “The Bridge Across Forever.” Ah, for Christ’s sake, I have been looking for my soulmate ever since.
Then…as I put the book down, I half expected my soulmate to appear in front of me. A little later in college, and my first job, and the one after: I put every imperfect piece together to try and piece my bridge across forever. Recently- I was left even more in the dark, even further from forever than I have ever been.
Oddly, the yearning has only grown. Of all the books I have read, and the stories that have lingered: this soppy tale of a man and woman, who find eternal love has stayed. And haunted me. My life has been plagued in pursuit of a nobody…
And, the (now passive) quest is almost amusing now. Ordinary men stop me at bookstores and ask me to recommend a list of books to a new reader (the same guy), and uninspiring men ask me over hundred thousand lines of poetry, about myself. An entirely opposite non-drinker meets me for coffee, a friend’s friend attempts passable conversation. Friends of work thrust pictures off Facebook timelines, my parents try to palm me off to a traditional Indian wedding website.
An aunt wants me to settle with a rich man, in a big house in a Bombay suburb. Or take the next flight to NRI paradise, and maybe date a man who’s 38. Ah, atleast he’s slightly clever, not gay, and won’t bob his head to pitiable trance in a shallow night club. So, what if he’s nobody’s bait?
Easing out of one more such situation on a Friday night, I realize, fate is a funny thing. Fate has not only put me on a long and painfully hard bridge to forever, it has also mocked at my forever…our forevers. At nineteen, I naively believed my soulmate would turn up and stay by my side through all my dreams…
Now, I’m forced to believe my dreams will turn up and stay by side through (all of) my soulmate(s). Hah!
The romanticist in me is utterly dejected; forever is forlon.
But there’s a bridge…and it’s in the sky.
“I’m here not because I am supposed to be here, or because I’m trapped here, but because I’d rather be with you than anywhere else in the world.”
― Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever: A True Love Story