Letters are memoirs that peep into some forgotten, narrow ally of our lives – some dark and some illuminated with joys and laughter. Those days are past now; the joy of receiving a letter, the wait, the anticipation of the smiles it brings to the receiver… and much more. Reading it for the first time in zest, with the urgency to know all within, then later again to re-live it and then even later to savour.
Suddenly the brittle, pale, folded paper, with the blue ink seeping even into the outer side, struck her hands. She was scrounging through the heaps of old trinkets in the attic, with intentions that she would surely sort them at a more suitable time, keep the wanted and discard the rest. The much familiar hand and the even much familiar address of her childhood CD197, Sector 3, Ranchi 4 gripped her.
She had read in the newspapers and seen in the news and social media all about his success, the clicking cameras, the press, the media all flocking around him, documenting his achievements, indeed a big-shot now, the CEO of Jindal group of companies. She wondered, do memories attract each other? Did the news of Arvind she saw the other day play its part to bring the long lost letter into her hand?
Arvind was her childhood friend. They had played in the same park, shared the same bus stop, and even shared some glances and some fondness that had transformed into an indomitable feeling in him. She did try to conceal her feelings, but her dark, silent, eyes spoke it all. He had dreams and she was the guiding star in his life. They only saw each other from a distance, only some conformal glimpses and rest was all within the labyrinth of their minds. They were young then, merely in high school. Once in a neighbourhood picnic Arvind couldn’t hide his emotions when some local boys spoke lightly of her and his outrageous behaviour did put her father on guard. He had told her dad, “Give me time and I will show you what I am worthy of.”
This was a big blow to the ego of Mr. Chaturvedi. Being extremely conservative and conventional, he wished to put a stop to any flowing currents between them. He was vocal about it and decided to send her away from home after high school. She still remembered him saying, “I will pray for you and will be there for you whenever you need me.”
Time separated them, distanced them…and it was then that she had received the letter. She was too docile to go against her father. She was married off to a decent family. Just after their marriage, her husband’s business often took him to places. She had realized with time that he was not a man of integrity. Their common friends were witness to his precarious nature. She knew Arvind’s words weren’t hollow but she didn’t wish to face him, she had never even accepted his friendship request on social media. All these things were blasphemous for her. Her success was in bringing up her daughter, she was her joy. She had learnt to survive storms.
Yet, holding the letter in her hand, a strange plethora of emotions were engulfing her. She couldn’t keep up with them, she needed to sort her past, keep the wanted, and discard the rest…