Years ago, I briefly rented a post-office box and took out an ad in the classifieds which, apart from listing the box address, simply read “Tell me a story.” One of the respondents — named Said — wrote a few times, including Letter #3 (https://ottawaephemera.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/tell-me-a-story-part-3/), and Letter #11 (https://ottawaephemera.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/tell-me-a-story-part-11-the-return-of-said/). This was his third of four letters to me (I’ve removed his address):
Click on thumbnails to enlarge, or read the complete text below:
Tell Me A Story
Received Jan. 22/02
Hand-written on blank paper.
Jan. 15, 2002
Dear wonderful friend,
It is the first time that some one to hear a story in all sincerity and very gracefully. I got all my graduate education and had an opportunity to have friends in U.K., Germany, Austria, Turkey, Iran, India and Pakistan. They all wrote beautiful letters but you are unique. All wanted to know about my personel life but none was so graceful as to hear a story.
As a young person I was very fond of stories and I was really impressed by “arabian Nights” which in Arabia is called Alif Laila (Story of 1000 Nights). The unique feature of Arabian Nights is that it is the story of a King who would marry a woman in the day and would order her execution next morning. One girl decided to stop it and offered herself to be married to the king with one condition that she would be allowed to bring her younger teen age sister with her.
The king accepted the condition. At night the younger sister asked her sister that since she was going to be executed next morning, she would like to hear a story. The sister started a story which the king heard in the room. At the end the sister told part of the story till the Dawn and told her younger sister that she would complete the story next evening if she was still alive. The king decided not to execute his wife and wanted to hear the end of the story. His wife started the story and it was still incomplete till Dawn. His wife again told her sister that she would complete the story next evening if she was still alive. The king again postponed the execution as he wanted to hear the rest of the story. This game continued for 1000 days & hence it is called Arabian Nights. Now the story you want to hear is about an Indian gentleman. His name was Agil, which meant wise. His mother loved him so much she gave him the name Agil.
Agil was one of the eight children of his parents. One year in that city there was an epidemic “meningitis” and Agil’s three older siblings (Two brothers & one sister) died. Now Agil was the oldest with two younger brothers and two younger sisters. Soon Agil’s father also suddenly died. Agil was in grade IV & when he returned from the school his father’s funeral was going to the cemetery. Agil was the dearest child of his father while his mother loved the three older children more than the younger ones. Thus Agil and his mother were very sad and came closer to each other. Agil was very good and brilliant in his class. Once he became an orphan the teachers and his classfellows were very helpful. Agil saw that he was the oldest and he had soon to grow older and become the breadwinner of the family. He was extremely loving to his mother & to his younger siblings. Agil did so good in his education that he was offered free education right up to the University. By the time Agil finished his University education the money left by Agil’s father was nearly gone. Agil got a good job and he was offered merit scholarship to go to U.K. for graduate studies. In Asia young people with European education are more respected.
Agil studied from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the university and worked from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a store. He sent most of the money home as he was given free Board and Residence at the University Hostel. One day a Canadian Education group came to U.K. to speak about education in Canada. This group was taken around the University by Agil as a University student. This group gave their cards to Agil in case he ever came to Canada. Agil was an extremely brilliant speaker and participated in U.K. and European Debates. In Debates he won trophy severel times. Thus Agil was popular in U.K., Germany, Austria, Scotland and Ireland.
Agil was offered Commonwealth Scholarship & hence had enough money to complete his education as well as send a part of the money to his mother. Nearly 20 years ago Canada from Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta used to go to U.K. to recruit staff for the universities. Agil was selected by this group for a job in the Canadian Civil Service. Agil was the first Asian appointed an officer by the Federal Civil Service Commission of Canada. Agil was quite popular and the Civil Service officers invited him to Dinner at their house. Agil did not have the money to give dinners to these people at Canadian Restaurants & hence he bought Indian cookbooks and taught himself to cook Indian food. At that time there were only Restaurants for Chinese, French and English Food. Most Canadians would go to Chinese Restaurant for a change. It was Agil’s good fortune that his food tasted wonderful. Since there were not many talented Asians at that time in Ottawa, most accepted Agil’s invitation. There were all taken aback by Agil’s food served at dinners. Every officer of the Civil Service including the Lady Commissioner of the Civil Service Board came for a dinner. Agil had brough beautiful souvenirs from India and he also kept a guest book. Once Carleton University invited Agil to give lecture on clinical Psychology. The Dean and some staff of Ottawa University were also in his lecture. In a week’s time Agil got a phone call from Dean Faculty of Psychology to have lunch with him. At lunch the Dean offered him to lecture graduate students at Ottawa University. Agil was quite flattered and gave up Carleton assignment. Agil was in a new world and he was also offered an undergraduate course at Ottawa University. Now Agil had two salaries & financially very well off.
Agil was a very shy person. He bought a car & took girls out on dates. The girls were very disappointed because of Agil’s shyness. Once Agil and a beautiful girl returned from a movie and Agil took her for a snack. Agil wont hold girl’s hand. Wont kiss good night as Agil had never kissed the girls. Once he asked a girl who was very kind and understanding if she enjoyed dates with him. The girl’s reply was that it was hard on any girl to enjoy a Bishop’s company. Agil was not only upset but stopped dates for months.
The Asian Community had told lot of stupid stories about sexual freedom of the girls in the West. Agil never found any thing wrong and he cared about girls a lot. Agil was told that interracial marriage does not last very long.
Lastly a day came when Agil fell in love with a beautiful girl. Agil told his problem of shyness and in India there was dating and if any boy made date or love he had to marry her. Agil could not understand why this mention of marriage would flatter the girl in India and upset the girl in U.K. and Canada. The girl Agil fell in love was French Catholic. She really loved Agil and the girl’s parents were very happy with Agil. The Church pressured the girl could marry only if Agil could become a Catholic. Agil never believed in changing religion. Agil was very lonely without that girl. It is better to stop the story here and talk about it when there is a mood and demand to talk about this story again. To continue it may become Arabian Night story.
Agil lives in a beautiful flat & his window opens towards the park. He looks at the park with a cup of coffee in his hand. He often goes to Rideau Centre for a lunch and orders Dinner (Greek, Chinese, Indian) delivered at home.
I hope you like the story. I have never done it for any one in my life. Why I have now done it I am not sure. I personally believe that I found it soothing to tell a story and a better way to overcome loneliness. I hope you do not mind if I say you wont hear what happened to Agil. You and I could only guess it?