This story had begun thirteen months ago in Florida library.
Daniel finally laid his hands on ‘Gone With The Wind’, the novel which was in great demand and has been evading him ever since it caught the eye of public. As he opened the book he found dried rose petals, preserved carefully in the folds of the book, with initials ‘SM’ written in silver. The book couldn’t keep him engaged as something was disturbing him. Time and again he kept turning back the pages to look at the rose petals and the beautiful calligraphy on them. He felt an urge to meet the person and return the carefully preserved petals. The handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and an insightful mind. On the opening page of the book he found the name of its previous owner.
Miss Sarah Maynell.
With some effort he located her address from the library registers and then wrote a letter to her, introducing himself and explaining the reason why he was writing to her. “Isn’t the reason too frivolous?” he asked himself. But then, he thought there was no harm in trying.
Soon the World War broke out and Daniel had to join the services. For one year and a month they continued knowing each other through letters. Sarah continued to be his pen friend and a major support thorough out his stint at war front.
One day he requested her to send her photograph to which she rejected. Daniel was dejected and at the same time afraid that he might lose her as a friend as he thought he crossed the line. To his relief in her next letter she told him that she’d meet him directly in person as soon as he was back from the war.
When the day finally came for him to return from war, they scheduled their first meeting at Grand Central Station.
“You’ll recognize me by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel”, she wrote.
Grand Central Station was filled to the brim with families, friends and well wishers of the soldiers returning home. There was a lot of hoopla and people were brimming with excitement. The station was colourful and soulful, making the home coming for the soldiers very grand.
In the train, the boys bid adieu to each other, saying a silent prayer for the ones who’ve sacrificed for the country and thanking God for having kept them alive. They promised to stay in touch even after returning home.
The train pulled into the station and swarmed the already crowded station. Daniel stood up from the bench, straightened his army uniform and studied the crowd looking for the girl, whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't- the girl with a rose.
He then saw a young woman walking towards him. She was long and slim. Her blonde hair fell back in curls from her delicate ears, and had shiny blue eyes which perfectly complimented her pink cheeks. In her pale green suit she was like spring time come alive. Daniel walked towards her entirely oblivious of the fact that she was not wearing a rose. As he crossed her path a smile appeared on her lips and she murmured 'Excuse me’?
He took one step closer to her and then he saw Sarah Maynell, standing directly behind the young woman, well past her forties with greying hair tucked under a hat, pale and gentle looking with weary grey eyes and with a warm and kind smile.
The lady in green suit was walking away quickly. Daniel felt as though he split into two; so keen was his desire to follow her and yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly enchanted him.
He didn’t hesitate as he walked towards the old woman with his fingers gripping that small worn blue book that was to identify him to her. He knew that this wouldn’t be love, but something more precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship which he must be and is very grateful.
He squared his shoulders, saluted her and held out the book to her and said “Hey, I'm Lieutenant Daniel, and you must be Miss Maynell. I’m so glad that you could meet me. May I take you out for dinner?”
He then closed his eyes for a flash of second bearing the truth that he missed the girl in green suit forever.
The women's face broadened into a tolerant smile as she said, “'I don’t know what this is about. The young lady in the green suit who just went by asked me to wear this rose on my coat and said that if you were to ask me out for dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the restaurant across the street.”
He gently smiled and that was the beginning of not just a love story but a saga…..
Original story by Purnima Gayathri