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Hearts for the Lonely
Searching for a suitable partner
Birmingham. Colossal metropolis, teaming with people rushing to and fro, almost jet-propelled as if driven by some unseen force.
"Can't stop... must dash... nice meeting you - bye!"
And I was lonely... dreadfully lonely. It didn't help that I worked in a late night mini-mart; by the time my working day was over, there was scarcely an hour to spare before bedtime. No free evenings, no social life, nothing.
I was afraid that my loneliness would become permanent. Not for me the delights of motherhood or the intimacy of sleeping in a double bed; I would die a pathetic old creature, in some run-down rest home with no-one to shed a tear at my passing.
One morning, on my way to work, I found myself browsing amongst the multifarious magazines at the newsagents. A new publication caught my eye - a magazine full of lonely people!
The big bold lettering leaped out at me from the shelves, enticing me to buy.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR LOVE, FRIENDSHIP OR MARRIAGE? - READ ON; FIND YOUR FUTURE IN OUR MANY PAGES OF PERSONAL ADS!
Impulsively, I bought a copy. I read it at work when the rush hour had subsided; I read it on the bus on my way home to Solihull; and I read it again in bed, circling the adverts which I found particularly appealing.
The following day my mother looked through the magazine when I was at work and that evening we had great fun discussing the various advertisers' clever use of vocabulary.
"How about this one?" I laughed.
"FISHMONGER SEEKS SOLE MATE. CAN YOU FIND A PLAICE IN YOUR HEART FOR ME? - GET YOUR SKATES ON AND START WHITING!”
"Yes, very witty. Why don't you reply to a few?" Mum inquired a serious tone now detectable in her voice. "For the price of a stamp what have you got to lose?"
"Okay," I agreed enthusiastically, but was nonetheless suspicious of her motives. Was she eager to be rid of her Twenty-Three year old daughter, so she could perhaps let a room to some impoverished university student?
Carefully, I scoured through the pages, selecting the ten adverts that I had previously circled. I wrote ten identical letters and posted them off in a single, plain, brown envelope.
A week later one solitary reply appeared on the doormat. "Better than none at all," mum announced optimistically. On reading the letter I found no physical description of its sender, so I referred back to the original advertisement:
TALL, MALE, ASIAN DOCTOR, 32. WOULD LIKE TO MEET ASIAN LADY 18-32 FOR INITIAL FRIENDSHIP MAYBE MORE. INTERESTS INCLUDE PHOTOGRAPHY, MOVIES, TRAVEL. BIRMINGHAM AREA ONLY.
I phoned him immediately; his name was Raj. He seemed just my type. We arranged to meet later that day in the buffet on New Street Station between 4 and 5pm.luckily it was my day off.
Mum was more excited than I was. "Don't forget your watch... why don't you wear that nice Silk Sari...?"
At precisely 4pm I arrived at the buffet. I looked around, inconspicuously, but there was no-one that fitted Raj's description. 4.15....4.30. Still no-one! I began to feel like an extra in Brief Encounter, gradually becoming waterlogged from several cups of insipid British Rail coffee. At 4.45, a tall, Gujarati man rushed into the buffet, seating himself at an unoccupied table. I dashed over immediately.
"Are you Raj?"
"Yes, I am."
I started to introduce myself, but he was hardly the loquacious type. I attempted to make pleasant conversation in several languages; Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati...
Eventually we agreed on a trip to the cinema, followed by a curry. I became utterly disappointed with his lack-lustre personality and felt pleased when it was time to part company. He certainly did not come up to my expectations. And neither of us suggested we meet up again. On the journey home I became dispirited. Maybe this lonely hearts' business was not for me, after all, I thought. And that man! Wasn't he a strange fellow? Not at all as he had seemed on the phone.
I arrived back after dark, regretting the waste of my one free evening that week, only to be confronted with an extremely upset mother. "There you are! - I've been worried sick!"
"Why?" I asked, obviously baffled by her attitude.
"Raj has been ringing all evening; he wondered why you weren't there to meet him as arranged. He couldn't get there until almost 5pm as he was detained at the hospital," she explained.
"But... but I WAS there, I've been with him since 4.45!" I protested innocently. Then, the daunting realization suddenly struck me: in my eagerness to form a meaningful relationship I had inadvertently spent an entire evening with the wrong man.
© 2015 Stella Kaye