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Bon Journal

Two hours into the sunset

I don't like talking on the telephone for too long. I don't like being on the Internet for too long. The latter is addictive, and the former a challenge.

So it was not at all precedented that I spent so much time today on a long distance call in my loft room not merely watching the sunset. The person on the other end was telling me a beautiful love story, almost too good to be true. It took a full two hours for him to describe two lovers in their quest for reunion.

It was like watching a rainbow appear and then disappear into the mist. In the first instance, you could hardly recognise it as being a rainbow - or being love, for that matter.

They met at a posh hotel. She was tired of travelling and longed to return home. They were informed of each others' existence by a mutual friend. Neither expected anything to come out of this.

It was certainly not love at first sight. For one thing, she was allergic and vehemently opposed to cigarette smoke. And when they had first spoken on the phone the previous day, the second thing she asked him was whether he smoked. He had hesitated and tried to dodge the question by asking, "what kind of smoke?" Then he had answered,"not very much." So already, she had pigeonholed him into the "smoker" category, i.e. the untouchables.

Meanwhile, he was in love with a woman who was off limits, and one who was not available to him at all . In a way, it allowed him to experience the feelings of love without the time and effort required. Having just ended a dead relationship, she was not about to get involved with anyone so easily.

But what took them by surprise was the ease with which they were able to communicate and interact. In hindsight, they realised that they hadn't said much in those two hours into the sunset, but they had said everything they needed to say. In those two hours, they verbalised their dreams. It was the same dream: to travel around the world, to compose and perform their own music, and to share this beautiful experience with everyone.

In the next weeks and months, they communicated everyday by email, phone, voicemail, letters, text messaging, online chats, and even combinations of the above. It seemed as though the harder it was to be together, the more they wanted to be together.

They wanted only to give and to express their desire for each other. It was like a competition to see who could do more. They wrote poems, stories, and music. They immediately committed their schedules to visit each other.

As the storyteller ended his account of this love story, I watched the sun sink into the horizon. As far as I could tell, the story was not finished. Only the telephone conversation has ended. Would they be able to overcome the barriers, not all of which are apparent? Or would they perform scenario analysis and rationalise themselves out of this long distance relationship?

Recently my Buddhist friend told me that many people love not because they want to be loved but that they are afraid of not being loved. He also said that being single is at least as good as or better than having to put up with the s**t of being in a relationship. And that "to love, is to give up the love." It all seemed too cynical to me.

I wonder if everything has to be planned and expected. I wonder if the best things in life are truly unexpected and free. When I see couples kiss passionately on train platforms or at airports, I wonder whether they are really in love or just showing off. But I'm convinced now, after this story, that there are couples who are so in love that they would care less about what goes on around them. Indeed, the heart knows no bounds.

3 June 2001

Love is a many splendoured thing. This afternoon, my neighbour visited me for tea. She chose this piece for me to play. Perhaps she knows that love is a many splendoured thing. I don't. Let me find out. Hence, this story.