I never listened to the radio when I drove. You see, driving was never one of those easy, second-nature things for me. I needed to concentrate when I was behind the wheel.
But today. Today was different. Today, I did switch on the radio. I need the distraction. I have that butterfly thing going on in my stomach. I feel excited and scared all at once.
Will he answer the door?
Will he think I have aged a lot?
Will he even recognize me?
On that dark thought, my mind lingers.
After 48 long years, would he still remember our brief romance?
Some days, I still remember it like I was 21 years old all over again.
We had said our final goodbyes to each other under a tree beside my hostel. I remember the shadow that the leaves made in the sunlight, this little dust spot on his bike which I tried to wipe before I perched on the seat. And if I close my eyes, and stay real still, I can hear his voice.
We were young and lost in each other. Then one day, it seemed like we woke up and realized that social and parental considerations didn’t just change for our love story. And that was that.
I moved back home, got married, fell in love with a wonderful man, had children, grandchildren, and a rich life.
I named my first son after him. It might seem like an act of petty romance. But the name, it brought me peace. Reminded me I had loved and lived once. Had been young and rebellious once.
Jon. As years went by, the name lost it’s significance as his name and gradually it just became my son’s name.
I park the car beside the house. I check the address one more time, before I remove my glasses. It is an impressive, largish villa, with a beautiful garden. Definitely the touch of a woman in there.
I get out of the car. Feeling my age. All of a sudden, I feel silly and clumsy.
I ring the doorbell and wait. A young man opens the door.
Oh! Well not what I had expected.
“Hello, I am looking for Mr. Jon?“,I ask.
“Jon, that’s me.“, he says.
“Umm..no I umm..is your father around? Was his name Jon too?”
I am almost about to turn around and leave at this point.
“Yes, but he passed away a few years ago. Sorry do I know you? “, the man looks at me warily now.
He passed away. I feel something. Partial sadness and partial resignation. I will never ever see him again.
I must have looked crestfallen, because Jon asks me,
“Would you like to come inside? Are you alright?”
“Ohh..yes thank you. I would like that.”
I walk inside and Jon guides me to a couch.
“Your father and I knew each other a long time ago. Did, did your father ever mention about his years in the city ?”
“Only vaguely. He lost contact with most of his friends there once he moved back here.”
He can see that was not the answer I wanted to hear, so he adds,
“Sorry he never did say anything.”
I nod my head. I feel like a child now. Immature and ridiculous. At my age driving across town on a romantic whim.
The door opens again. And a girl walks in.
“Hello“, she sees me and smiles.
“Hey, this is an old friend of Dads. And this is my sister.” Jon says.
The girl steps towards me and extends her hand for a handshake. I rise from my seat, and take her hand in mine.
“Hi, I am Claire.“, she says.
I smile as I hear my name.
This little story was not an original. It came from the movie ‘Guilt Trip’. Movie is passable, but the scene touched me. And I tried to recreate that here.