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The Love Letter

About Rakesh

Rakesh Pandey is an engineer by qualification and a Manager with Microsoft by profession. Basically from the holy city of Benaras, he’s settled in Bombay. He is not much of a talker and being an introvert, he is usually lost within himself.

When things become sour, he either picks up his flute, pen or fists, in that order. Music, writing and boxing are his Guardian Angels, who always rescue him and prevent any sort of mischief, which is his wont to indulge.

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Prologue :
Letters… Those harbingers of sadness, happiness and euphoria, which are unfortunately conspicuous by their absence currently, are still as enigmatic and intriguing as they were 30 years ago!
The best thing about letters is that even after years, they have the power to drag us down those misty and faded memory lanes, making us revisit the long forgotten memories and mental landmarks, which never fail to bring a wistful smile on our lips and a glow in our dreamy eyes.
This story is about a lady, who finds solace in reading the yellowed pages of a love letter written to her by her beau, who was royally ignored while he was trying to woo her and was secretly pined for later. Such are the ways of life, that we always learn the value of a person after they phase out!
I’m sure that you would like this tale of nostalgia and magical powers of the oldest mode of communication, which existed since the beginning of civilization. I’m believe that the electronic modes can never beat plain old letters. They may be quick, but they can never be so emotional.
Part 1

‘Dear Pihu,

I can still hear your abuses hurled at my running back, accompanied by a huge steel water glass clanging with a hollow sound on the footpath. To my eternal credit, I deftly avoided both and stuck my tongue at you and screamed ‘Pihu, Pihu!’ before vanishing in the thickets of bamboo which your grandfather had planted before your house. Winded, there I sat on a stone and wiped my sweating forehead with my sleeve, while bending and trying to peer warily at your gate to ascertain if you weren’t following me again. May be, that was when my silly love for you was burgeoning, like a tiny sprout raising its head towards the sunshine.’

Sunanda looked around before resuming her reading again. Her husband was pottering about in the house, screaming at the bunch of numerous kids in the huge house, who true to the form of kids, refused to listen. The house resembled a miniature model of the grand battlefield of Panipat with running kids as English soldiers and her harassed and martyred husband as Tatya Tope. She hid her mouth with her saree and giggled. She ensured her privacy before resuming.

‘Pihu, do you remember that day, when I brought my uncle’s bike and invited you for a ride While you were walking towards the bus stand to catch a bus to your college? How you screamed? I didn’t mean anything bad, but may be my sins were catching up, that I was doubted even when I was being honest! I was very depressed and ran into a buffalo, which in turn tossed me in a nearby ditch. My father had to pay for the repairs to that bike, which he exacted with a belt on my back! See? What I suffered in the quest of my love! You will laugh, I know.’

Sunanda covered her mouth so that she doesn’t squeal her mirth. It was grotesquely humorous to imagine an angry adolescent riding into a buffalo and then flying into a ditch. Sunanda was a good poet and like all poets, she had a vivid imagination, which presented all the ideas with startling clarity. She managed to maintain her stern posture when she saw a little child running to her.

“Masi, please give me 2 rupees! I need kulfi! Please, masi, please!” Sunanda hastily hid the letter and pulled out a tiny clutch from her ample bosom. She gave 2 coins to the kid, who scampered away, chirping like a sparrow. She looked at the discolored clutch and was lost in her thoughts. In her trance, she picked up the sheaf of papers and continued, knowing well enough what she will read.

‘You still carry that clutch, Pihu? That day, when you threw it back in the ditch, I came back to pick it up. I went to the bottom of the stinky water and couldn’t find it. I was lost in a quagmire that day, and it wasn’t the depth of the real one, but that of my soul. It broke my heart. You made me die there and then. I hated you for hating me. Next day, when I saw that glitter of tiny mirrors, while you were paying for a pencil, I realized that the clutch still exists. I think, you came back after you threw it before your friends, and collected it. I went and fought with everyone happily. I was a crazy guy who hasn’t improved till now. Your love has made me Moonswept!’

Sunanda looked at the clutch with a smile. A smile, which was as enigmatic and inscrutable as that ugly and faded clutch.

‘I’m going to meet you once I come back, Pihu. Though, I know that you don’t love me and will never meet me. You always thought of love in its carnal form. You never believed that there are many forms of love, which don’t require a physical affiliation to be consummated. Chakor always loved but never met the moon.

‘Please understand! I know that you are married now and have two loveliest kids and I still love you! Is love always physical? Love is one of the most curious emotions which expands your tiny heart to encompass the entire world with space to spare for another universe. Like that old banyan tree before your house, it can grow out of nothing and sustain itself out of nothing. But, it can outshadow the world and sun.’

Sunanda looked outside and the banyan tree waved its leafy arms towards her. She smiled and waved back. Suddenly she froze! She remembered that time when she was with her friends at the bus stop and he came on a pilfered bike. He loved bikes and knew a lot about them. He loved to show off his stunts on the bike before her and occasionally ended up in a nearby ditch, causing her to giggle. Once she chided him for such foolish stunts and he logically replied that love always makes one do foolish things, be it for a machine or for another human being. After all, a biker loves his machine like a knight loves his steed! And, together, a knight and his steed are invariably known to rescue a damsel in distress, aren’t they? Pihu simply walked away, to avoid to be pointed as the damsel.

He had his logic in place. It’s very irritating and infuriating that when you love someone and they begin responding to you with logic! Love isn’t logic! Love defies logic. Love is a logic in itself. That was the first when Pihu felt a soft feeling for him.

‘You don’t even remember that I have stolen your favorite scarf. I still have it in my kit here. I know that you were searching for it. I felt guilty at this theft, but my need was greater than you, Pihu! I was deployed and needed a lucky charm! Love is a charm, if you don’t know. Lovers and idiots have their own personal gods, who exist in their beliefs. They know that they are saved as long as they believe. I am safe here, as long as I have your scarf hidden in my kit like a sacred talisman, which transmits a powerful signal to my heart and converts it into a fortress. What kind of demented enemy will attack such an ugly pink scarf?’

Sunanda stared at the words in mock indignation with her bow shaped eyebrows contracted, and smiled wistfully. She had a beautiful pink scarf, which her mother had bought from Mandi and which was her favorite. Like all Himachal girls, she wore it in a distinct style on her head, giving her the appearance of a coy bride. She saw him stealing that scarf and feigned panic later while searching the already lost scarf. To his credit, he helped her to search the item he stole and which she knew he did. He was heartbroken that he couldn’t find it and she cried dutifully, exhilarated with that feeling of euphoria, which makes one feel valued. She laughed and wondered if Shakespeare would have approved of this drama on the stage of life!

‘I know that you never loved me. Not in the way I did. For you love was something arcane and ugly, which was Consummated behind closed doors and sans lights. For me, love was a celebration to dance under those sunswept fields and windwheeled trees. For you love was an orgy of writhing bodies under some ancient rules. For me, love was the rising arms of the patient ocean towards her Opal Moon! My love was an euphoria as compared to your guilt. Each for their own, as our English Teacher Shukla Sir said. He must be senile now, nei? I always thought that he must have received a bullet in his brain, which remained lodged there.’

Sunanda tried to suppress her laughter at his presumptions. He always thought that he knew everything. He always was so confident and cocksure. He never understood a woman’s heart. The house went still and a voice cried out, “Now she understood that joke!” The house exploded in laughter. She smiled in their direction indulgently and fondly remembered the crankiest teacher in universe. Satyabhan Shukla was a corporal during 62 China war. He was disabled due to a bullet in his knees, which gave him a permanent disability. Sunanda understood that snide remark towards bullet lodged in brains. Shukla Sir always believed that this new job is just an extension of his old commission and treated kids as green recruits. He died 10 years ago, grieved by none, his cremation charges were subject to public charity. Everyone was generous in Himachal. They had a lavish death ceremony. Shukla Sir achieved in his death, what he never could achieve in his life. He was surrounded by people, who praised him in words which even he wouldn’t have been able to stomach!

‘Oh, Pihu! I wish you ever come to Siachin! We have real ice here. Not the fluffy snow you get in Shimla. I’m at minus 20 degrees. It’s more than your refrigerator! I have taken a leave this summer. I know that you won’t bother to meet me, but I’m inviting your parents too. Then will you? Please! I beg you, Pihu! I won’t ask for anything ever. Sorry, have to go. Today I’m on guard duty. Will write another letter, where I’ll explain how to kill ice worms.

‘I won’t ever say bye, because byes always denote an end and I never want us to end. I’m okay with my questionable existence in the gray vacuum at the outpost of your life. At least, you know that I’m waiting there for you, patiently. For a glance. For a word. For a miracle!

‘I will see you again and torment you. What’s love if not a pain and torment of the soul? Love is just an eternal desert with an occasional oasis formed by the meeting of the beloved or simply a series of heartless mirages caused by her glance! And, I can give the Devil a few pointers on misery and pain! The one who loves, weeps blood and breathes ashes. C ya!

‘I love you, my Pihu and will always remain…

Forever yours,
Veer

PS: I wish I could see those tiny wrinkle of distaste on your forehead, while your long eyebrows contract, when you read that ‘I love you’! At times, teasing your loved one becomes a part of the mating ritual! Beg your leave, mademoiselle, before you throw something in my direction in frustration, and I’m sure it will cross these impregnable mountains and hit me! Wish you do!’

Sunanda knew that there won’t be anymore letters. She knew that in spite of this daily flood of tears and pain, she will again go to her desk tonight to read that letter… again. She still had that last letter from Major Virender Pratap Singh. A curt letter which just talked about artillery fire and falling men. The curt letter suddenly became unprofessional with a kiss at the bottom. That was the last before she read in the newspapers about the Delta Company of 11 Punjab Rifles being wiped out in an onslaught at Chhamb.

Her 26 years old soldier wasn’t fighting anymore. She knew that her soldier won’t write to her anymore. Death loved him more in her own inscrutable way than Pihu did in her bashful way. Whereas, she was timid and shy, death was voluble and daring, and claimed her right. They say that death is a bewitchingly beautiful maiden, who gives a quick reprieve to the brave and teases a lot to cowards. She simply cuddled her Veer and flew away with him to her eyrie. She gave Veer what Pihu never could… an infinite love.

Her crying heart screamed at his lie! He didn’t say bye, he said that he will meet her again and broke his promise as well as her heart as usual.

A familiar sound broke into her reverie like those long and gentle fingers of wind, which gently tap on our window panes without us even realizing. Pihu heard the familiar clang of an antiquated cycle bell and as usual walked up to the window, with her husband and kids hooting derisively.

Through the dense foliage of banana and pomegranate trees, she coul see the receding back of the khaki clad old man, not stopping anywhere to unload his bag of magic. He stopped near the fence of Mr Iyer, wary of his German Shepard, who was snarling halfheartedly, and piped up in his wheezy voice, ‘Telegram!’

The sleepy street didn’t stir. Kids were busy in their computers and cellphones. Adults were busy talking to each other online through instant messaging and emails. No one had the time or patience to think and pen a letter to someone they cared. Like Pihu, the old postman and his cycle belonged to a long begone era of fairies, castles and unicorns. Lost in the kaleidoscope of whirling images of past and present, not unlike the rainbow of the spectra, in which light refracted after colliding with her tears, Pihu knew that there won’t be any letters anymore, but she still loved that touch with her past, which had a hope. A square piece of indelible paper had her soul trapped in its writhing lettering.

Her soldier was never going to come back, but she knew that the old postman will. She knew that she will wait for him with a hope, as if her Veer will tease her back from that aloft eyrie, where that Beautiful Maiden has taken him away. She knew that she will wait for him. Forever.

‘Sunanda, I guess your lover has given up!’ Her husband’s voice rose above the laughter. Sunanda hid her mouth with the edge of her saree and turned around with a shy smile, her large and dark eyes welling up and the corner of her mouth quivering.

60 years old Pihu finally knew what’s love and put on her thick glasses to hide her red rimmed eyes and fumbled at the brass box to keep back her treasured letters.

Letters… Those harbingers of sadness, happiness and euphoria, which are unfortunately conspicuous by their absence currently, are still as enigmatic and intriguing as they were 30 years ago!
The best thing about letters is that even after years, they have the power to drag us down those misty and faded memory lanes, making us revisit the long forgotten memories and mental landmarks, which never fail to bring a wistful smile on our lips and a glow in our dreamy eyes.
This story is about a lady, who finds solace in reading the yellowed pages of a love letter written to her by her beau, who was royally ignored while he was trying to woo her and was secretly pined for later. Such are the ways of life, that we always learn the value of a person after they phase out!
I’m sure that you would like this tale of nostalgia and magical powers of the oldest mode of communication, which existed since the beginning of civilization. I’m believe that the electronic modes can never beat plain old letters. They may be quick, but they can never be so emotional.

Dear Pihu,

I can still hear your abuses hurled at my running back, accompanied by a huge steel water glass clanging with a hollow sound on the footpath. To my eternal credit, I deftly avoided both and stuck my tongue at you and screamed ‘Pihu, Pihu!’ before vanishing in the thickets of bamboo which your grandfather had planted. Winded, there I sat on a stone and wiped my sweating forehead with my sleeve, while bending and trying to peer warily at your gate to ascertain if you weren’t following me again. May be, that was when my silly love for you was burgeoning, like a tiny sprout raising its head towards the sunshine.

Sunanda looked around before resuming her reading again. Her husband was pottering about in the house, screaming at the bunch of numerous kids in the huge house, who  refused to listen. The house resembled a miniature model of the grand battlefield of Panipat with running kids as English soldiers and her harassed and martyred husband as Tatya Tope. She hid her mouth with her saree and giggled. She ensured her privacy before resuming.

Pihu, do you remember that day, when I brought my uncle’s bike and invited you for a ride While you were walking towards the bus stand to catch a bus to your college? How you screamed? I didn’t mean anything bad, but may be my sins were catching up, that I was doubted even when I was being honest! I was very depressed and ran into a buffalo, which in turn tossed me in a nearby ditch. My father had to pay for the repairs to that bike, which he exacted with a belt on my back! See? What I suffered in the quest of my love! You will laugh, I know.

 

Sunanda covered her mouth lest she didn’t squeal her mirth. It was grotesquely humorous to imagine an angry adolescent riding onto a buffalo and then flying into a ditch. Sunanda was a good poet and like all poets, she had a vivid imagination, which presented all the ideas with startling clarity. She managed to maintain her stern posture when she saw a little child running towards her.

Masi, please give me 2 rupees! I need kulfi! Please, masi, please!” Sunanda hastily hid the letter and pulled out a tiny clutch from her ample bosom. She gave 2 coins to the kid, who scampered away, chirping like a sparrow. She looked at the discolored clutch and was lost in her thoughts. In her trance, she picked up the sheaf of papers and continued, knowing well enough what she will read.

 

You still carry that clutch, Pihu? That day, when you threw it back in the ditch, I came back to pick it up. I went to the bottom of the stinky water and couldn’t find it. I was lost in a quagmire that day, and it wasn’t the depth of the real one, but that of my soul. It broke my heart. You made me die there and then. I hated you for hating me. Next day, when I saw that glitter of tiny mirrors, while you were paying for a pencil, I realized that the clutch still exists. I think, you came back after you threw it before your friends, and collected it. I went and fought with everyone happily. I was a crazy guy who hasn’t improved till now. Your love has made me Moonswept!

 

Sunanda looked at the clutch with a smile. A smile, which was as enigmatic and inscrutable as that ugly and faded clutch.

 

 

 

To Be Continued in Part 2

Letters… Those harbingers of sadness, happiness and euphoria, which are unfortunately conspicuous by their absence currently, are still as enigmatic and intriguing as they were 30 years ago!
The best thing about letters is that even after years, they have the power to drag us down those misty and faded memory lanes, making us revisit the long forgotten memories and mental landmarks, which never fail to bring a wistful smile on our lips and a glow in our dreamy eyes.
This story is about a lady, who finds solace in reading the yellowed pages of a love letter written to her by her beau, who was royally ignored while he was trying to woo her and was secretly pined for later. Such are the ways of life, that we always learn the value of a person after they phase out!
I’m sure that you would like this tale of nostalgia and magical powers of the oldest mode of communication, which existed since the beginning of civilization. I believe that the electronic modes can never beat plain old letters. They may be quick, but they can never be so emotional.

Dear Pihu,

I can still hear your abuses hurled at my running back, accompanied by a huge steel water glass clanging with a hollow sound on the footpath. To my eternal credit, I deftly avoided both and stuck my tongue at you and screamed ‘Pihu, Pihu!’ before vanishing in the thickets of bamboo which your grandfather had planted. Winded, there I sat on a stone and wiped my sweating forehead with my sleeve, while bending and trying to peer warily at your gate to ascertain if you weren’t following me again. May be, that was when my silly love for you was burgeoning, like a tiny sprout raising its head towards the sunshine.

Sunanda looked around before resuming her reading again. Her husband was pottering about in the house, screaming at the bunch of numerous kids in the huge house, who  refused to listen. The house resembled a miniature model of the grand battlefield of Panipat with running kids as English soldiers and her harassed and martyred husband as Tatya Tope. She hid her mouth with her saree and giggled. She ensured her privacy before resuming.

Pihu, do you remember that day, when I brought my uncle’s bike and invited you for a ride While you were walking towards the bus stand to catch a bus to your college? How you screamed? I didn’t mean anything bad, but may be my sins were catching up, that I was doubted even when I was being honest! I was very depressed and ran into a buffalo, which in turn tossed me in a nearby ditch. My father had to pay for the repairs to that bike, which he exacted with a belt on my back! See? What I suffered in the quest of my love! You will laugh, I know.

Sunanda covered her mouth lest she didn’t squeal her mirth. It was grotesquely humorous to imagine an angry adolescent riding onto a buffalo and then flying into a ditch. Sunanda was a good poet and like all poets, she had a vivid imagination, which presented all the ideas with startling clarity. She managed to maintain her stern posture when she saw a little child running towards her.

Masi, please give me 2 rupees! I need kulfi! Please, masi, please!” Sunanda hastily hid the letter and pulled out a tiny clutch from her ample bosom. She gave 2 coins to the kid, who scampered away, chirping like a sparrow. She looked at the discolored clutch and was lost in her thoughts. In her trance, she picked up the sheaf of papers and continued, knowing well enough what she will read.

You still carry that clutch, Pihu? That day, when you threw it back in the ditch, I came back to pick it up. I went to the bottom of the stinky water and couldn’t find it. I was lost in a quagmire that day, and it wasn’t the depth of the real one, but that of my soul. It broke my heart. You made me die there and then. I hated you for hating me. Next day, when I saw that glitter of tiny mirrors, while you were paying for a pencil, I realized that the clutch still exists. I think, you came back after you threw it before your friends, and collected it. I went and fought with everyone happily. I was a crazy guy who hasn’t improved till now. Your love has made me Moonswept!

Sunanda looked at the clutch with a smile. A smile, which was as enigmatic and inscrutable as that ugly and faded clutch.

 

 

 

 Continued in Part 2

I’m going to meet you once I come back, Pihu. Though, I know that you don’t love me and will never meet me. You always thought of love in its carnal form. You never believed that there are many forms of love, which don’t require a physical affiliation to be consummated. Chakor always loved but never met the moon.

Please understand! I know that you are married now and have two loveliest kids but I still love you! Is love always physical? Love is one of the most curious emotions which expands your tiny heart to encompass the entire world with space to spare for another universe. Like that old banyan tree before your house, it can grow out of nothing and sustain itself out of nothing. But, it can out-shadow the world and sun.

Sunanda looked outside and the banyan tree waved its leafy arms towards her. She smiled and waved back. Suddenly she froze! She remembered that time when she was with her friends at the bus stop and he came on a pilfered bike. He loved bikes and knew a lot about them. He loved to show off his stunts on the bike before her and occasionally ended up in a nearby ditch, causing her to giggle. Once she chided him for such foolish stunts and he logically replied that love always makes one do foolish things, be it for a machine or for another human being. After all, a biker loves his machine like a knight loves his steed! And, together, a knight and his steed are invariably known to rescue a damsel in distress, aren’t they? Sunanda simply walked away, to avoid being pointed as the damsel.

He had his logic in place. It’s very irritating and infuriating that when you love someone and they respond to you with logic! Love isn’t logic! Love defies logic. Love has a logic of itself. That was the first time when Sunanda began to feel something for him.

You don’t even remember that I have stolen your favorite scarf. I still have it in my kit here. I know that you were searching for it. I felt guilty at this theft, but my need was greater than you, Pihu! I was deployed and needed a lucky charm! Love is a charm, if you don’t know. Lovers and idiots have their own personal gods, who exist in their beliefs. They know that they are saved as long as they believe. I am safe here, as long as I have your scarf hidden in my kit like a sacred talisman, which transmits a powerful signal to my heart and converts it into a fortress. What kind of demented enemy will attack such an ugly pink scarf?

Sunanda stared at the words in mock indignation with her bow shaped eyebrows contracted, and smiled wistfully. She had a beautiful pink scarf, which her mother had bought from Mandi and it was her favourite. Like all Himachali girls, she wore it in a distinct style on her head, giving her the appearance of a coy bride. She saw him stealing that scarf and feigned panic later while searching for it. To his credit, he helped her to search for the stolen item and  she knew it was in his possession. He was heartbroken that he couldn’t find it and she cried dutifully, exhilarated with that feeling of euphoria, which makes one feel valued. She laughed and wondered if Shakespeare would have approved of this drama on the stage of life!

I know that you never loved me. Not in the way I did. For you love was something arcane and ugly, which was consummated behind closed doors and sans lights. For me, love was a celebration to dance under those sun-swept fields and wind-wheeled trees. For you love was an orgy of writhing bodies under some ancient rules. For me, love was the rising arms of the patient ocean towards her Opal Moon! My love was a euphoria as compared to your guilt. Each for their own, as our English Teacher Shukla Sir said. He must be senile now, no? I always thought that he must have received a bullet in his brain, which remained lodged there.

Sunanda tried to suppress her laughter at his presumptions. He always thought that he knew everything. He always was so confident and cocksure. He never understood a woman’s heart.

The house went still and a voice cried out, “Now she understood that joke!” The house exploded in laughter. She smiled in their direction indulgently and fondly remembered the crankiest teacher in universe. Satyabhan Shukla was a corporal during 62 China war. He was struck by a bullet on his knees, which gave him a permanent disability. Sunanda understood that snide remark towards bullet lodged in brains. Shukla Sir always believed that this new job is just an extension of his old commission and treated kids as green recruits. He died 10 years ago, grieved by none, his cremation charges were subject to public charity. Everyone was generous in Himachal. They had a lavish death ceremony. Shukla Sir achieved in his death, what he never could achieve in his life. He was surrounded by people, who praised him in words which even he wouldn’t have been able to stomach!

 

Continued in Part 3

Oh, Pihu! I wish you’d  come to Siachin! We have real ice here. Not the fluffy snow you get in Shimla. I’m at minus 20 degrees. It’s more than your refrigerator! I have taken leave this summer. I know that you won’t bother to meet me, but I’m inviting your parents too. Then will you? Please! I beg you, Pihu! I won’t ask for anything ever. Sorry, have to go. Today I’m on guard duty. Will write another letter, where I’ll explain how to kill ice worms.

I won’t ever say bye, because bye’s always denote an end and I never want us to end. I’m okay with my questionable existence in the grey vacuum at the outpost of your life. At least, you know that I’m waiting there for you, patiently. For a glance. For a word. For a miracle!

I will see you again and torment you. What’s love if not a pain and torment of the soul? Love is just an eternal desert with an occasional oasis formed by the meeting of the beloved or simply a series of heartless mirages caused by her glance! And, I can give the Devil a few pointers on misery and pain! The one who loves, weeps blood and breathes ashes. See ya!

I love you, my Pihu and will always remain…

Forever yours,
Veer

PS: I wish I could see those tiny wrinkle of distaste on your forehead, while your long eyebrows contract, when you read that ‘I love you’! At times, teasing your loved one becomes a part of the mating ritual! Beg your leave, mademoiselle, before you throw something in my direction in frustration, and I’m sure it will cross these impregnable mountains and hit me! Wish you do!

 

Sunanda knew that there won’t be anymore letters. She knew that in spite of this daily flood of tears and pain, she will go to her desk tonight to read that letter… again. She still had that last letter from Major Virender Pratap Singh. A curt letter which just talked about artillery fire and falling men. The curt letter suddenly became unprofessional with a kiss at the bottom. That was the last before she read in the newspapers about the Delta Company of 11 Punjab Rifles being wiped out in an onslaught at Chhamb.

Her 26 years old soldier wasn’t fighting anymore. She knew that her soldier won’t write to her anymore. Death loved him more in her own inscrutable way than Pihu did in her bashful way. Whereas, she was timid and shy, death was voluble and daring, and claimed her right. They say that death is a bewitchingly beautiful maiden, who gives a quick reprieve to the brave and teases cowards a lot. She simply cuddled her Veer and flew away with him to her eyrie. She gave Veer what Pihu never could… an infinite love.

Her crying heart screamed at his lie! He didn’t say bye, he said that he will meet her again and broke his promise as well as her heart as usual.

A familiar sound broke into her reverie like those long and gentle fingers of wind, which gently tap on our window panes without us even realizing. Pihu heard the familiar clang of an antiquated cycle bell and as usual walked up to the window, with her husband and kids hooting derisively.

Through the dense foliage of banana and pomegranate trees, she could see the receding back of the khaki clad old man, not stopping anywhere to unload his bag of magic. He stopped near the fence of Mr. Iyer, wary of his German Shepard, who was snarling halfheartedly, and piped up in his wheezy voice, ‘Telegram!’

The sleepy street didn’t stir. Kids were busy in their computers and cell phones. Adults were busy talking to each other online through instant messaging and emails. No one had the time or patience to think and pen a letter to someone they cared for. Like Pihu, the old postman and his cycle belonged to a long bygone era of fairies, castles and unicorns. Lost in the kaleidoscope of whirling images of past and present, unlike the rainbow of the spectra in which light refracted after colliding with her tears. Pihu knew that there won’t be any letters anymore, but she still loved that touch with her past, which had a hope. A square piece of indelible paper had her soul trapped in its writhing lettering.

Her soldier was never going to come back, but she knew that the old postman will. She knew that she will wait for him with a hope, as if her Veer will tease her back from that aloft eyrie, where that Beautiful Maiden has taken him away. She knew that she will wait for him. Forever.

‘Sunanda, I guess your lover has given up!’ Her husband’s voice rose above the laughter. Sunanda hid her mouth with the edge of her saree and turned around with a shy smile, her large and dark eyes welling up and the corner of her mouth quivering.

60 years old Pihu finally knew what’s love and put on her thick glasses to hide her red rimmed eyes and fumbled at the brass box to keep back her treasured letters.

 

The End

Letters… Those harbingers of sadness, happiness and euphoria, which are unfortunately conspicuous by their absence currently, are still as enigmatic and intriguing as they were 30 years ago!
The best thing about letters is that even after years, they have the power to drag us down those misty and faded memory lanes, making us revisit the long forgotten memories and mental landmarks, which never fail to bring a wistful smile on our lips and a glow in our dreamy eyes.
This story is about a lady, who finds solace in reading the yellowed pages of a love letter written to her by her beau, who was royally ignored while he was trying to woo her and was secretly pined for later. Such are the ways of life, that we always learn the value of a person after they phase out!
I’m sure that you would like this tale of nostalgia and magical powers of the oldest mode of communication, which existed since the beginning of civilization. I’m believe that the electronic modes can never beat plain old letters. They may be quick, but they can never be so emotional.

Part 1

Dear Pihu,

I can still hear your abuses hurled at my running back, accompanied by a huge steel water glass clanging with a hollow sound on the footpath. To my eternal credit, I deftly avoided both and stuck my tongue at you and screamed ‘Pihu, Pihu!’ before vanishing in the thickets of bamboo which your grandfather had planted. Winded, there I sat on a stone and wiped my sweating forehead with my sleeve, while bending and trying to peer warily at your gate to ascertain if you weren’t following me again. May be, that was when my silly love for you was burgeoning, like a tiny sprout raising its head towards the sunshine.

Sunanda looked around before resuming her reading again. Her husband was pottering about in the house, screaming at the bunch of numerous kids in the huge house, who  refused to listen. The house resembled a miniature model of the grand battlefield of Panipat with running kids as English soldiers and her harassed and martyred husband as Tatya Tope. She hid her mouth with her saree and giggled. She ensured her privacy before resuming.

Pihu, do you remember that day, when I brought my uncle’s bike and invited you for a ride While you were walking towards the bus stand to catch a bus to your college? How you screamed? I didn’t mean anything bad, but may be my sins were catching up, that I was doubted even when I was being honest! I was very depressed and ran into a buffalo, which in turn tossed me in a nearby ditch. My father had to pay for the repairs to that bike, which he exacted with a belt on my back! See? What I suffered in the quest of my love! You will laugh, I know.

Sunanda covered her mouth lest she didn’t squeal her mirth. It was grotesquely humorous to imagine an angry adolescent riding onto a buffalo and then flying into a ditch. Sunanda was a good poet and like all poets, she had a vivid imagination, which presented all the ideas with startling clarity. She managed to maintain her stern posture when she saw a little child running towards her.

Masi, please give me 2 rupees! I need kulfi! Please, masi, please!” Sunanda hastily hid the letter and pulled out a tiny clutch from her ample bosom. She gave 2 coins to the kid, who scampered away, chirping like a sparrow. She looked at the discolored clutch and was lost in her thoughts. In her trance, she picked up the sheaf of papers and continued, knowing well enough what she will read.

You still carry that clutch, Pihu? That day, when you threw it back in the ditch, I came back to pick it up. I went to the bottom of the stinky water and couldn’t find it. I was lost in a quagmire that day, and it wasn’t the depth of the real one, but that of my soul. It broke my heart. You made me die there and then. I hated you for hating me. Next day, when I saw that glitter of tiny mirrors, while you were paying for a pencil, I realized that the clutch still exists. I think, you came back after you threw it before your friends, and collected it. I went and fought with everyone happily. I was a crazy guy who hasn’t improved till now. Your love has made me Moonswept!

Sunanda looked at the clutch with a smile. A smile, which was as enigmatic and inscrutable as that ugly and faded clutch.

 

 

 

To Be Continued in Part 2

Part 2

I’m going to meet you once I come back, Pihu. Though, I know that you don’t love me and will never meet me. You always thought of love in its carnal form. You never believed that there are many forms of love, which don’t require a physical affiliation to be consummated. Chakor always loved but never met the moon.

Please understand! I know that you are married now and have two loveliest kids but I still love you! Is love always physical? Love is one of the most curious emotions which expands your tiny heart to encompass the entire world with space to spare for another universe. Like that old banyan tree before your house, it can grow out of nothing and sustain itself out of nothing. But, it can outshadow the world and sun.

Sunanda looked outside and the banyan tree waved its leafy arms towards her. She smiled and waved back. Suddenly she froze! She remembered that time when she was with her friends at the bus stop and he came on a pilfered bike. He loved bikes and knew a lot about them. He loved to show off his stunts on the bike before her and occasionally ended up in a nearby ditch, causing her to giggle. Once she chided him for such foolish stunts and he logically replied that love always makes one do foolish things, be it for a machine or for another human being. After all, a biker loves his machine like a knight loves his steed! And, together, a knight and his steed are invariably known to rescue a damsel in distress, aren’t they? Sunanda simply walked away, to avoid being pointed as the damsel.

He had his logic in place. It’s very irritating and infuriating that when you love someone and they respond to you with logic! Love isn’t logic! Love defies logic. Love has a logic of itself. That was the first time when Sunanda began to feel something for him.

You don’t even remember that I have stolen your favorite scarf. I still have it in my kit here. I know that you were searching for it. I felt guilty at this theft, but my need was greater than you, Pihu! I was deployed and needed a lucky charm! Love is a charm, if you don’t know. Lovers and idiots have their own personal gods, who exist in their beliefs. They know that they are saved as long as they believe. I am safe here, as long as I have your scarf hidden in my kit like a sacred talisman, which transmits a powerful signal to my heart and converts it into a fortress. What kind of demented enemy will attack such an ugly pink scarf?

Sunanda stared at the words in mock indignation with her bow shaped eyebrows contracted, and smiled wistfully. She had a beautiful pink scarf, which her mother had bought from Mandi and it was her favorite. Like all Himachali girls, she wore it in a distinct style on her head, giving her the appearance of a coy bride. She saw him stealing that scarf and feigned panic later while searching for it. To his credit, he helped her to search for the stolen item and  she knew it was his possession. He was heartbroken that he couldn’t find it and she cried dutifully, exhilarated with that feeling of euphoria, which makes one feel valued. She laughed and wondered if Shakespeare would have approved of this drama on the stage of life!

I know that you never loved me. Not in the way I did. For you love was something arcane and ugly, which was consummated behind closed doors and sans lights. For me, love was a celebration to dance under those sun-swept fields and wind-wheeled trees. For you love was an orgy of writhing bodies under some ancient rules. For me, love was the rising arms of the patient ocean towards her Opal Moon! My love was a euphoria as compared to your guilt. Each for their own, as our English Teacher Shukla Sir said. He must be senile now, no? I always thought that he must have received a bullet in his brain, which remained lodged there.

Sunanda tried to suppress her laughter at his presumptions. He always thought that he knew everything. He always was so confident and cocksure. He never understood a woman’s heart.

The house went still and a voice cried out, “Now she understood that joke!” The house exploded in laughter. She smiled in their direction indulgently and fondly remembered the crankiest teacher in universe. Satyabhan Shukla was a corporal during 62 China war. He was struck by a bullet on his knees, which gave him a permanent disability. Sunanda understood that snide remark towards bullet lodged in brains. Shukla Sir always believed that this new job is just an extension of his old commission and treated kids as green recruits. He died 10 years ago, grieved by none, his cremation charges were subject to public charity. Everyone was generous in Himachal. They had a lavish death ceremony. Shukla Sir achieved in his death, what he never could achieve in his life. He was surrounded by people, who praised him in words which even he wouldn’t have been able to stomach!

Part 3

Oh, Pihu! I wish you’d  come to Siachin! We have real ice here. Not the fluffy snow you get in Shimla. I’m at minus 20 degrees. It’s more than your refrigerator! I have taken leave this summer. I know that you won’t bother to meet me, but I’m inviting your parents too. Then will you? Please! I beg you, Pihu! I won’t ask for anything ever. Sorry, have to go. Today I’m on guard duty. Will write another letter, where I’ll explain how to kill ice worms.

I won’t ever say bye, because bye’s always denote an end and I never want us to end. I’m okay with my questionable existence in the grey vacuum at the outpost of your life. At least, you know that I’m waiting there for you, patiently. For a glance. For a word. For a miracle!

I will see you again and torment you. What’s love if not a pain and torment of the soul? Love is just an eternal desert with an occasional oasis formed by the meeting of the beloved or simply a series of heartless mirages caused by her glance! And, I can give the Devil a few pointers on misery and pain! The one who loves, weeps blood and breathes ashes. See ya!

I love you, my Pihu and will always remain…

Forever yours,
Veer

PS: I wish I could see those tiny wrinkle of distaste on your forehead, while your long eyebrows contract, when you read that ‘I love you’! At times, teasing your loved one becomes a part of the mating ritual! Beg your leave, mademoiselle, before you throw something in my direction in frustration, and I’m sure it will cross these impregnable mountains and hit me! Wish you do!

 

Sunanda knew that there won’t be anymore letters. She knew that in spite of this daily flood of tears and pain, she will go to her desk tonight to read that letter… again. She still had that last letter from Major Virender Pratap Singh. A curt letter which just talked about artillery fire and falling men. The curt letter suddenly became unprofessional with a kiss at the bottom. That was the last before she read in the newspapers about the Delta Company of 11 Punjab Rifles being wiped out in an onslaught at Chhamb.

Her 26 years old soldier wasn’t fighting anymore. She knew that her soldier won’t write to her anymore. Death loved him more in her own inscrutable way than Pihu did in her bashful way. Whereas, she was timid and shy, death was voluble and daring, and claimed her right. They say that death is a bewitchingly beautiful maiden, who gives a quick reprieve to the brave and teases cowards a lot. She simply cuddled her Veer and flew away with him to her eyrie. She gave Veer what Pihu never could… an infinite love.

Her crying heart screamed at his lie! He didn’t say bye, he said that he will meet her again and broke his promise as well as her heart as usual.

A familiar sound broke into her reverie like those long and gentle fingers of wind, which gently tap on our window panes without us even realizing. Pihu heard the familiar clang of an antiquated cycle bell and as usual walked up to the window, with her husband and kids hooting derisively.

Through the dense foliage of banana and pomegranate trees, she could see the receding back of the khaki clad old man, not stopping anywhere to unload his bag of magic. He stopped near the fence of Mr. Iyer, wary of his German Shepard, who was snarling halfheartedly, and piped up in his wheezy voice, ‘Telegram!’

The sleepy street didn’t stir. Kids were busy in their computers and cell phones. Adults were busy talking to each other online through instant messaging and emails. No one had the time or patience to think and pen a letter to someone they cared for. Like Pihu, the old postman and his cycle belonged to a long bygone era of fairies, castles and unicorns. Lost in the kaleidoscope of whirling images of past and present, unlike the rainbow of the spectra in which light refracted after colliding with her tears. Pihu knew that there won’t be any letters anymore, but she still loved that touch with her past, which had a hope. A square piece of indelible paper had her soul trapped in its writhing lettering.

Her soldier was never going to come back, but she knew that the old postman will. She knew that she will wait for him with a hope, as if her Veer will tease her back from that aloft eyrie, where that Beautiful Maiden has taken him away. She knew that she will wait for him. Forever.

‘Sunanda, I guess your lover has given up!’ Her husband’s voice rose above the laughter. Sunanda hid her mouth with the edge of her saree and turned around with a shy smile, her large and dark eyes welling up and the corner of her mouth quivering.

60 years old Pihu finally knew what’s love and put on her thick glasses to hide her red rimmed eyes and fumbled at the brass box to keep back her treasured letters.

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