After the first date on Skype, a virtual date every weekend had become a ritual for Jane and Sam (Sam was never late again). And the date-durations were growing exponentially every time. Neither could do without it. Seeing each other had become a need more than a desire, and a whole week between those weekends with only texting and talking on the phone bolstered the need. They were growing closer each day. A bond was growing stronger. In spite of it all, there existed a subtle line. Both of them wanted to cross it but neither knew how.
It had been three weeks now. One fine evening, when life was rolling by both in Berlin and someplace in the US, there were two people in either place who were bridging the time and distance via the phone network. With texts, a lot of them. All of a sudden, Jane felt a twinge in her heart, felt that somehow this was just not enough. There was an untold longing in her that gave way to a void that she didn’t know existed. Sam was no different, he was in the same boat with Jane but too afraid to realize it. There was an unswerving worry gripping his heart thinking about the hows of this amazing but difficult budding relationship.
At that moment, Jane found herself toying with the idea of meeting Sam. She knew it sounded insane, even the thought of it. Her mind was in constant denial of pursuing the thought but her heart felt differently. It was persistent and finally Jane gave in. She had to tell this to Sam, ask him what he thought. When Jane playfully proposed the idea to Sam, he couldn’t believe it. It was too unreal. Too unreal in every way. More than doing the deed what counted was the thought. The fact that Jane was planning to travel thousands of miles just for him, blew Sam’s mind. Moreover, it had been only three weeks. They hardly knew each other. He had never felt this sense of conviction or trust or love or whatever it was, from anyone. And he had had almost thirty years to experience it. But this was the first time. Sam was beatific and didn’t waste a single moment getting on-board with the idea.
However, making that idea a reality was no easy task.
Sam, because of his crazy work schedule, wasn’t in a position to take a holiday and visit Europe then. So it was all up to Jane to bring the rendezvous to fruition. The first task in the plan was to convince the parents. Sam wasn’t too excited about the idea. He wanted to meet Jane first, before the parents got involved into anything. It was his commitment phobia cum ‘the-fear-of-things-not-working-out’ talking. However, for Jane it was quite a big step. Even if the future was unknown, the fact that she would be traveling across continents called for some responsible action and letting the parents know. Sam couldn’t deny the logic and agreed to it.
The parents got around to talking and things worked out incredibly between them, beyond expectations. They were quick to support the idea and asked both of them to go ahead with the plan. Jane was elated. Sam was ecstatic. That was the time when Sam inched forward a little, trying to cross that subtle line, asking Jane ‘How do you feel babe?’ The word ‘babe’ had never been used before. Hence, that four-letter word right then did hold a special meaning. Jane was delighted.
With the first signal green, the next task was to get the Visa for the States, which was one Herculean task.
But the dreamy reality felt so much closer and clearer now that the duo was ready to take up the ordeal. So Jane set out to fill out the application, get her documents ready and get an appointment for the visa interview. It was time to go to USA!
The interview-day was here. It was a beautiful sunny April morning. Jane was as usual a little early and so had to wait at a coffee shop nearby. Fifteen minutes before the appointed time, she started walking towards the consulate. With every step she took, she found herself getting nervous as well as excited. She had heard those daunting interview stories at the US consulate and wondered what her fate held. As she entered the building, Jane saw many tensed faces, waiting for their turn. She said a silent prayer, thought of Sam and took a seat. The air around her was unnerving. Waiting for her name to be called, Jane felt her hands getting cold and her heart racing. There was so much at stake. For a moment, she thought to herself she was crazy enough to have even considered this idea. What was she doing? And why? She was taking dire steps to go to an unknown country for someone who she had just met. Her mind hand’t really approved the idea and it decided now was the time to push the panic button. Fighting the frenzy in her head, Jane took a long, deep breath. It was time to be in control. Her heart had showed her the way, and now was not the time to turn back.
Finally, her name was called. She tried to be confident and walked to the booth. The consulate officer stood gravely behind the glass counter. He asked her a few questions about what she was doing in Berlin and why she wanted to travel to the US. Jane told him the facts. Then he checked some more information on his computer screen. His face gave away very little of what he was thinking. Jane tried hard to gauge his expressions but failed. Some moments passed in silence while the officer continued to stare at his screen. Jane could feel her heart in her mouth. At last with a frown, he turned towards Jane and put out a blue paper in front of her. He signed it and said ‘Sorry, but your application has been rejected. We cannot approve your Visa today’. It took a while for Jane to register the words. She couldn’t believe her ears. A simple tourist visa for a couple of weeks and it was rejected. Jane’s world came crashing down. She thought it was a dream. To confirm that her ears had heard it right, she asked the officer again. Only a single word came out of her lips, ‘Rejected?’. The officer nodded and returned her passport to her.
Jane felt like someone had knocked the wind out of her sails. She was rushing to get out of that building as tears had started to well up in her eyes, ready to flow down her cheeks any moment now. Her head hurt and her chest too. She felt lost and drained. How could this happen? She had believed but she failed. A myriad of thoughts started hovering around her head as she started to walk towards the bus-stop. Was she wrong? Was her decision wrong? Did she make a mistake by believing her heart and ignoring her mind’s reasoning? She wanted a justification but she couldn’t find one.
The bus drove in. Jane stepped in and fished for a seat in the utmost corner. She settled in and wrapped her arms around her, fighting hard the urge to cry. It felt hollow and dark inside. Her being was engulfed with the idea of loss and she was afraid, afraid of losing something that was never hers. The bus roared down the beautiful cosmopolitan city basking in the summer sun filled with its multitude faces and joyous laughter, but today the vibrant city was a blur to her eyes.
She was brave and strong and was broken all at once.– Anna Funder