A Memory Fading

on Monday, July 09, 2007

You know, I said that would never forget him and yet I can no longer remember his name. I feel sad and angry at my failure. It seemed the very least that I could do and yet I have begun to let him slip away. The world has continued to turn, my life has gone on and he has fallen behind.

I'll just call him, John. I first met John when I first started work at the local University after completing my Masters degree. I was one of a group of research assistants that worked in the Biochemistry Department. We also doubled as student tutors and part of our job was to supervise and give advice to final year undergraduates as they try to carry out mini-research projects as part of their credits.

John was one of the smarter students and he often entered into lengthy academic discussions with us and eventually he begun to hang out with the research assistants socially as well. We thought nothing much about it at that time, but he was particularly close to a PhD student which we will just name Jane. John was quiet, thoughtful and sensitive. Jane was quite different in that she was an extrovert, a rebel against convention and the life of the party. Somehow they hit it off and were often seen together in the labs. She would be working on an experiment and he would be studying for his exams; both just seemed content to be in each other's company.

A love story? I didn't think so then and I still don't today. Jane had just gotten married before starting her PhD course. It was an arranged marraige. The husband, even though he had left school when he was 15 years old , had become a successful trader in a remote part of the country. The big fish in a small pond, as it were.

What really happened will probably never be revealed. However, from what I could gather later, Jane's husband became increasingly unhappy of her carrying on with her studies. He felt threatened, thinking that she was spending a lot of her time away from him with smarter men.

These began to lead to arguements and when upset, Jane turned to John and poured out her troubles to him. Jane's husband in turn became more and more suspicious that his wife was being unfaithful and that she despised his lack of academic learning.

One rainy night almost 18 years ago, Jane's husband drove all the way from their hometown to the University; a journey taking 8 hours. He called her and told her that he was coming to end her affairs. Jane was scared at the tone of his voice and called John for support. John, the young, gallant and foolish lad decided to confront Jane's husband and be her knight in shining armour. All three met outside her rented apartment. Jane's husband accused her of unfaithfulness and she accused him of being an unreasonable control freak. When things got heated, John tried to stand between them.

We were later told, the husband took out a hunting knife and went after John. Jane screamed for John to run and he did, getting onto his motocycle and fleeing the scene. However, Jane's husband got into his large 4-wheel drive and set off in pursuit.

It was along a lonely, dark and winding road near the University, in the midst of torrential rain and a thunderstorm, that he caught up with John and rammed the motorcycle. John went flying off the motorcycle and rolled on the road. Despite his injuries, driven by adrenaline, he was able to get up and leaving a trail of blood, hobbled to first one and then another of the few houses along the road. These were large houses with hedges and locked gates. He yelled for help as he ran from one house to another. In the storm, his voice would have been barely audible. Jane's husband followed slowly but steadily behind and at the gates of the fifth house, used his hunting knife to viciously extinguish John's young life.

We never did see Jane again. The day the news broke out, the University merely said she had taken an indefinate leave of absence and she never came back. Her husband was found guilty of murder and sentenced. As far as we can tell, Jane was never unfaithful. She was flirtatious by character and that contributed to her husband's fears but she never had an affair with anyone. John and Jane were just good friends, maybe even more like an older sister - younger brother relationship. Somehow, insecurity, jealousy, miscommunication and mis-guided gallantry led to this tragedy that shattered three lives and those of their loved ones.

For a long time, I use that road to go home from work and I always offered a prayer for John. I wonder at what kind of life he might have lived if it had not ended that night. This story comes to mind because the authorities are beginning to redevelop that road and the neighborhood. Perhaps, I will no longer be able to recognise the landmarks when they are done. I am sad that even more of his memory is being eroded by time and progress. I wonder how many others have already forgotten this life cut short.

23 comments:

...Kat said...

Indeed a Tragedy!

Top cat said...

How sad? if people could just learn to let go of other's and not have their ego hurt, so many lives would be spared.
tc

Mystic Wing said...

Nicely rendered story. Thanks for sharing it.

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh what a tragic story Lgs. I can see where that would have a great effect on you. It's an awful thing when someone's jealousy causes such horrendous pain and even death. I do think though that Jane, knowing her husband's feelings and his possible anger, would have been better off confiding in a girlfriend than another man regardless if he was just a good friend or not. In most situations that would not nor should it matter but she knew he was jealous and therefore should have taken steps to limit her time with John and perhaps he would still be alive today.

evalinn said...

What a sad story, LSG!

Open Grove Claudia said...

What a horrible mess for everyone involved. Sometimes it amazes me what we are willing to do to each other or the depths we can go. It's very sad.

HeiressChild said...

wow, how sad! jealousy is an evil emotion.

Josie said...

LGS, this post is a wonderful tribute to John, and you have honored his memory in doing that. Everything in life moves on, sadly.

As Mystic Wing says, this is a nicely rendered story, and thank you for sharing it, and John, with us. Now we will remember him as well.

Josie

MedStudentWife said...

I do agree with Josie - the post is a tribute to John, but also to Jane.

She has probably had to live a life of trying to protest innocence in the face of what happened. At least here, you are one that testifies for her - to her innocence.

Cheryl said...

That was a tragic story. I would say that Jane and John were having an affair, just not a sexual one. How sad for everyone involved, most of all John. This was a great tribute.

meggie said...

What a tragic story.

Molly said...

How sad. Doesn't make a good case for arranged marriages, does it?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

kat,
Lives shattered and loss at what should have been the start of possibilities. Tragedy indeed.


top cat,
So many things we need to learn on how to live together.

mystic wing,
Thank you for visiting and leaving such kind comments.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

janice,
I agree. In retrospect, Jane should have been wiser but she was in character, a woman-child. She still behaved with child-like exuberance and innocence which led to indiscretion. That was her charm and her folly.

While their's was not a sexual relationship, I agree with Cheryl's comments further down, that having an affair does not need necessarily to be sexual. They were already having an emotional affair.

evalinn,
:(

claudia,
All of us who knew them spent much time after wondering what we could have done to have averted it. If only this and if only that. There are a lot of "if only..s". Horrible mess, is right.

sylvia,
Jealousy, pride, defiance..... where was the love?

josie,
Thanks for the words of encouragement. I am a bit upset that I have forgotten his real name. 18 years isn't that long. His family will still remember him - the joy and the pain.

medstudentwife,
thank you for your interesting perspective. The couple certainly did not commit physical adultery but as suggested by other readers, they may have already crossed an emotional line. Yet, there seemed to be no one clearly to blame and yet all contributed to the looming tragedy. And by that, I include myself and all who knew them.

cheryl,
I agree fully though I also wasn't mature enough to see it at the time but indeed committing emotional adultery is as real as physical adultery. Yet, I don't think they were conscious of this fact themselves.

geewits said...

It is a terribly tragic story, but one that has occurred again and again throughout the ages.

I'm not sure John would wish to be remembered by the tragic stretch of road where he took his last breaths. The people that were close to him remember him when they hear a certain song or visit a particular site. He will not be forgotten.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

meggie,
:(

molly,
I have seen many arranged marraiges work and work well but it still comes down to wisdom in making the choice and willingness to work at it. In Jane's case, she probably wasn't ready for marraige at all. She wanted to study and travel. That really isn't helped by getting married. Her insistence on carrying on with her studies in a distant location put the already shaky young marraige onto a collision course with the rocks. Again, i can think of so many "what if's".

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

geewits,
Sorry I missed you earlier. I think we must have posted about the same time.

Thanks. What you said about the road not being what we should remember him by actually made a lot of sense. As soon as I read that, my thoughts of him were filled with images of him laughing and smiling. Thank you.

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Tragic stories jog memories.
They can certainly be cautionary tales.
I was the husband in a similar story, but my story had a fourth courner...The older I get, the more I realize that all triangles have a fourth corner.
I had been separating from my wife and soon somehow set up a triangle; got a girlfriend.

A man moved in with my wife.
There was a rearranging here.
I resented the interloper for living in my wife's house, drinking my beer, patting my dog, driving my second car.
Okay, okay, I had the girlfriend, but in the last count, she meant nothing to me; I was used to being married and the monk's existence was not for me; would have otherwise been a depression and a psychiatrist.
But then my wife sends me this letter saying that she was now sexually involved with this stranger.
I suddenly became "Jane's husband".

I did the eight-hour drive thing, arrived into my former living room and caught the stranger pretending to be asleep on the sofa.

There was a heavy wooden chair just in front of a coffee table before which the stranger lay "sleeping."
I could have picked up this heavy chair and bludgeoned him to death with it.
There was an intant choice: Murder or just a venting of long-pent-up emotion.
I was wearing sneakers at the time.

I chose to try to kick him to death.
Teading a strange path in the dark, I walked all over my rival; the sofa springs absorbed most of the kicks. He certainly wouldn't die.
In the middle of my ritual dance, my wife rushed in to interfere.
Her, I could not harm, as I had been an adulterer too.

She finally pulled us apart, pushed me out of the house. I felt that I had lost, but from an animal standpoint, did I feel better!
There was s strange humour to the situation.
Violence is golden?
In a parallel universe, I heard God saying that there but for His Grace, I almost went I the way of Jane's husband.
I had been offered choices.
I could have killed my wife's lover (I am strong enough)--or just gotten his attention.

Eventually, they separated.

The soap opera continues.


Thanks, LGS, for allowing me to let off a little steam.

Thank God I did not go the way of
Jane's husband.

Ivan

Becky Wolfe said...

What a tragedy - gave me the shivers!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

ivan,
Thanks for sharing. If the soap opera continues, might we still hope for a happy ending?

becky,
me too.

Ivan@cretivewriting.ca said...

Lone Grey Squirrel,

I have used up at leas three pairs of Adidas in kicking my wife's lovers around.
This time I think I'll invest in a pair of hob-nailed boots. :)

Ivan

CS said...

That's a horrifying story. Even if they had been having an affair, it wouldn't justify murder. The response by Ivan above troubles me - the idea that the man sleping with his separated wife was fair game for injury or death is insane. I have never understood whey people target the "other" for their anger. Realtionships/marriages don't always work out - if you have any degree of mental health you let go and wish your partner well. I hope with all my heart that my recent ex finds someone who will make him happy.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Ivan,
I am hoping that the opportunities to kick anyone has passed.

cs,
It is great that you can feel so loving to your ex and wish him happiness. It's something we all hope we could do in the same circumstances but not so many can honestly achieve.

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