From an unknown lover...


The packet came in time, like it always did. She opened it. The heart leapt up to her throat. Beads of sweat drenched her skin and made her neck softly moist. The inside was parched and thirsty. Afternoon wind blew into the layers of mildly grey hair and made whistling sounds in her ears. A cotton salwar stuck to sagging middle-aged breasts, hiding rapid anxious uneasy beats.

The letter in handmade paper came out smothered in Chelpark fountain ink. The round words written in a growingly shaky running hand. The margins defined neatly as if it were a portrait. The perfect words chosen with care and affection. The signature, long and relaxed, from someone who loved and ached, who longed and cried, who belonged and owned.

This time it was scarf. A silk and muslin mix with Lukhnowi weaving at the border, bright blue with mangoes printed in the centre like a traditional Indian mehandi design. She felt it for a long time. The smell was familiarly mystical. The touch was known, acquainted, close. She could feel her senses aroused in the same intimate way, her flesh rose up in goose-pimples and her deep within was jelly and spongy. All the monthly symptoms which surfaced after the packet positioned itself on her rosewood round coffee table, next to the huge Victorian English window, came back. The restless twitching of her long fingers, the brisk blinking of her hazel eyes, the numb emptiness inside her mind.

She placed the scarf fondly in the bottommost drawer of her study table. There was a host of things. She missed a beat. The plastic clip from a Hyderabad street, the artificial earrings from Delhi’s street market, the magenta nail paint of a local Jaipur brand, he had sent his love wrapped in gifts from everywhere. She smiled and ran her hands through the things. Then she secured the drawer and came back to the coffee table to unite with the letter.

Dear Deepa… the letter began. The simple words from a desolate, wretched loving husband seared her heart at an alarming speed and she experienced the same concoction of emotions which will now burn and fire her mind and soul for days. And then she will read the letter again like a hapless addict to get solace for some more days, by which time the next packet will arrive to rouse her, kindle her, soothe her.

She sat looking into blank space for infinite time and did not know when Ajay opened the door and entered the house. “Early morning presentation again, Geeta. Am taking the food up to my room and sleeping soon enough.” By the time she looked in the direction of the voice, he had already taken out the reheated boiled vegetables from the microwave, put it on a tray and started for the staircase. Geeta looked at him from behind, climbing up the stairs, tall, well built, attractive, even as old age was beginning to set in, then heard him get into ‘their’ bedroom and switch on the television. She picked up the pen and the airmail letter sheet.

Dear Harish,

Received your letter. Hope you doing good, recovered from the back pains you developed as indicated in your last letter. Work keeps me busy as usual. Yes, I have forgiven you for all your temper and ill behavior, but like I keep saying my commitments here might never allow me to return to India. London has adopted and owned me in a way. Don’t know if I can free myself from these fetters. But yes, I do want to see you once… once, before I close my eyes forever.…..

Love,
Deepa

Geeta looked at the untrue, yet true, words she had penned so effortlessly. Then she sealed the envelope and put it in her bag, to be posted on her shopping trip tomorrow. There were no traces of remorse or guilt. Then she served a portion of boiled vegetables for herself and sat in front of the television next to the Victorian window, playing old Hindi film songs.

This is God’s way of wiping my tears, of making up for my feelingless, loveless mechanized life, else an unrecognized letter wouldn't land unfailingly at my doorsteps from an unknown lover every month for ten years. This was his way of giving me what I deserve for leaving my life behind in my country, my loved ones, my securities, my sensibilities, for a man who fails to see the sensitive woman in me, human being in me, who is fake and wooden, who has never stirred an inch in me despite spending days together, nights together, who could not comfort me when I felt breathlessly nostalgic, wistful, about my roots, and wanted somebody to hold me and say he/she loves me and is there for me.

In a suburban town of India, a graying, small man called Harish, walks to the letter box, knowing well its some days too early, and returns disappointed. This was also God’s way of making up for the tears of a forty-eight year old man, getting weak and drained, holding on to a dying job, alone, isolated, abandoned.

Comments

frissko said…
hmmm...well written...liked it...(am refraining from offering 'solutions' to your Deepa/Geetha's predicament...)
Gill said…
Very touching and sensitively written.
Lash said…
beautifully written, the title was a little too indicative though.. but a well crafted post.. there is this movie with rahul bose and raima sen in it.. its about two pen friends and how life made a mockery of them.. i was reading about it a supplement the other day.. cant remember the name..

brilliant post this one.
Cynthia said…
Hi there! Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your kind comments. I enjoyed reading this post and can't wait to see what other thoughts you put out there.

Do come back and visit when you can.
Canary said…
@frissko
I think it would be interesting to know what solution comes to your mind? :)

@gill
Thanks a ton!

@lash
Thanks again... time I fly by your territory :)

@cynthia
Thanks for droppping by, you too!
Phoenix said…
very touching indeed. sad though, the life.
Deeps said…
That was just amazing..
Thinking aloud said…
nicely written...the emotions came thru..

also liked your previous post on bangalore rains!!! i miss blore, rains and all:(

thanks too, for your comments on my blog...
AnnieElf said…
A problem without a solution. A yearning. Truly a dream.
Deeps said…
Hey I have been a regular visitor, just not a regular commentator, sorry :-\.
pRicky said…
Interesting story. The concluding para but one is quite something. its been a while, madam canary...
Lash said…
how long should we wait for the next? :}
Canary said…
@phoenix
ya but who am i writing only these sad stories? :|

@Deeps
shukriya! :)

@thinking aloud
The rains are kinda gone, so am missing them too :(

@annieelf
:) :) Is it really a problem...
Canary said…
@Deeps
aah, like that! :)

@pricky
I re-read the last but one para at your behest :)

@lash
Its on the way, on the way...
Pri said…
very well written...
leaves u with a weird feeling...

keep writing!:)
Jeevy said…
hey nice blog u've got here!
very well written! :)
keep it up!

peace & love
Jeevy!
Oneya said…
Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, and for keeping it real-you remind me of the works of V.S .Please keep visiting my blogs!
Hirdu said…
hmmmm .... :)cool

so....New year is around and as usual ...You have been tagged for your New Year Resolution

http://hirdu.blogspot.com/2007/12/new-year-resolutions-2008.html
D said…
hey..nice story....liked the idea...
Canary said…
@pri..
Yess sir! :)

@Jeevy
Thats a template you paste everywhere, don't you?

@Oneya
The pleasure was mine, lady!

@hirdu
aah, these tags! :P

@d
I need to drop by at ur castle and see wat ur upto!
Lash said…
Merry Xmas
Canary said…
@lash
Thanku!
purplefish said…
loved ur style of writin...its been long i read such refreshing true thoughts, sensitization of small but trivial things in life. will be back as time permits to read on...
Tushar said…
Great Story.. Love the details in your stories..
You have a fan..
Canary said…
@purple
thanks a ton!

@tushar
Autograph anyone? :)
Pinku said…
very well written....

the heart still beats in middle age and old ...thats something the young often forget.
Canary said…
@Pinku
Thanks, made my day :)

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