A short story
I opened the door of my apartment to find silence and darkness greeting me. A sudden bout of loneliness hit me. I had tried staying in office and coming home late. I wanted to be so tired that I would just hit the bed and go to sleep, peacefully. But a man does not get what he wants, does he?
I look inside. What will I do? I felt the strange feeling of turning back and run away. What will I do in this big empty house? Without her? It’s a month since she was gone. A month and it felt like she was here a moment ago. I locked the door. I had my dinner in the office so it was just retiring to bed. I looked around. The house felt so silent and lonely without her. Without her voice.
I entered the kitchen and looked around. The kitchen was clean with a thin layer of dust. I had not cooked anything since last many days. I really wanted her to be there in the kitchen. I was so used to see her around, in the kitchen, in the house that I felt her absence strongly. I didn’t want to stay there, not without her.
“Here” She handed me envelopes as I just entered the house one evening
“Oh! Letters. Must be bills. I will read later”
“No? No bills?” I asked looking at the letters in my hand. They had my name in pen, but no stamp and no address
“They are letters for you”
“Nobody writes me letters anymore. They email me” I tried to sound very intellectual.
“You did what?”
“I wrote you letters”
“Letters budhu. The one that are hand-written on paper”
“Oh you mean the ones that were once been written on paper”
“Yup!” she smiled like a small girl all excited.
“But we meet everyday”
“So? Can’t I write you letters?”
“But we meet everyday” I tried to reason with her with the only reason I had.
“You go on, read! I will bring you tea” She shoved the letters in my hand
She was gone before I protested. I started reading, reluctantly and then I read. All of them, all six of them. She talked about us and then she talked about nothing in particular. She talked about her childhood and then she talked about her happy moments. She talked about being her and then she talked about her pets, her still to be born children and lots of them and then she talked about us again. She talked about her first love and the way I was different from him and strangely I didn’t feel jealous.
Words and words forming long letters running in pages written by hand in red ink. She was angry with me, she was happy with me, she was intrigued she was ‘she’ in the letters and still she was quite different. She wrote everything. I smiled, almost cried but read each and every word. I must have been reading for a long time because the tea kept in front of me was cold. I looked up to see her sitting next to me watching me with amusement.
I held her hand and pulled her closer. She smiled
“Now it’s your turn”
“I am not ready to cook today” I joked
“No buddu! Now you write”
I looked at her with surprise. Her expression did not change at all as if it was the most obvious thing to do. I continued looking at her
“What?” She looked at me
“I am not writing letters. I can’t write love letters.”
“Who is asking for love letters? I am asking you to write letters.”
“But we stay in the same house”
“I mean, its stupid”
She looked at me with hurt in her eyes. I realized I may have spoken too much.
“Sorry! Now can you get me the letter and the pen” I tried to make up.
She smiled. It didn’t take much efforts to make her smile.
She brought me the papers and pen and stood watching me
“I can’t write with you watching me like that” I was too embarrassed to write a letter. How can I write letters to her when I see her everyday? It was stupid
She made a face and walked away. I watched her go and just like that I knew what I had to write. I did write the letter, four pages or more. I don’t remember. I just wrote all I felt for her the last three years, everything. I didn’t know I could write so much but I wrote remembering all the moments we had spent together. We had talked about the moments but somehow I wanted all those moments on paper. I wanted the moments to be engraved in words.
That night she read all my letters again and again, a lot surprised at the words and a lot happy. I spent the night just watching her.
I came back to present. I looked at the kitchen again. Should I clean the dust? I decided against it. Who’s there to look at it now?
The letters, I needed the letters. I went to the bedroom and searched for the letters. It had to be somewhere. She kept it carefully. I had given my letters to her too. She would read them occasionally. I didn’t find the letters in the study table. I searched the cupboard and found them
Tucked under her favorite sari, wrapped neatly in paper were the letters, stacked neatly by dates. All the letters she wrote to me. I looked at them and felt my heart cry out. I remembered her, the way she would like to remember me. I wish she was there right now reading the letters. I browsed through the letters. All the letters written in the distinctive red ink. Why did she always write in red? I should have asked her.
I started reading from a letter
How are you? Did you miss me or not? Well! I know the answer. However, I would like to hear it from you. I miss you very much. You know nowadays you occupy all space in my heart and mind all the time. I wonder…”
The phone started ringing. I hated the phone now. Reluctantly I put the letter back and picked up the phone
“Missed me?” The voice asked from the other end
“No!” I lied
“No?” She asked
“No” I smiled
“Oh How sad! What were you doing?”
“Reading your stupid letters” I smiled
“So you DID miss me”
“I don’t think you should be staying with your parents for a month”
“I just stayed for 25 days”
“26” I corrected her
“Somebody has been counting”
“Like you didn’t?”
“I was reading your letter” She said
I realized that the letters did not contain my letter.
“You better be there at the station. I am coming back tomorrow evening” She warned me
The smile on my face just turned wider.
“Stop smiling so much. Its stupid”
“How do you know I am smiling?” I couldn’t help smiling
“I know you since the last three years my dear husband”
“So did you miss me?” She asked mischievously
“No!” I teased her
We started laughing. The house suddenly looked alive and beautiful even with the layer of dust on the kitchen platform.
Tomorrow she will be here, in her own home and then she will write letters to me.
Letters which she never posts!
Note: The story is inspired by a true incident few years back.