“………..You were old and weak. The disease ate you slowly until you gave up. It was no surprise that you passed away and yet I weep for you. After all, you are my wife. My beloved Sumati, I am not sad that you died; I am angry that you didn’t wait for me to accompany you. I am 89 now, how much more time I have anyway. Sumati, the one and only love of my life. I have known you longer and in a way no one else has. We are very old now but it was long time ago when I saw you the first time.
It was the time when there were trees in the city, lot more then there are automobiles today. The time when the patriotism in the people was at it’s peak. The time when, the only aim in my life was to finish studying quickly so I can go out and play.That was the age when we got married. It was only after all the wedding procedure was over and you came to my place, when I saw you clearly.
A young girl dressed in a green saree surrounded by chatty women. You looked shy, confused, maybe scared and yet there was a cute smile on your face. I knew you were my wife, the most important person in my life, as my elder brother pointed out to me. What am I supposed to say? I had two younger sisters and yet you were a complete mystery to me. How to approach? How to initiate the conversation? What to talk about? I was not much of a talking kind anyway; too much thinking was my style.
My mother suggested me to write everything I thought about. One of my best writing spots was on a strong branch of a huge mango tree. I had tied a wooden plank to it for me to sit comfortable. It was almost a part of my routine to sit on the branch, night time after dinner. Looking at the twinkly stars, lost in deep thoughts and noting it down in loose papers in dim light of the lamp I carried. But the importance of that place was increased after I took you there. It was the time when we talked, the first time we got connected. Even today, now when I look outside the window, I can see the same tree, same place where we had our first ‘Date’ as people today call it. Million stars above, fragrance of Raatrani (flower) and your face, glowing in the dim light which was the highlight of the evening.
The childhood habit of writing turned out to be a great advantage for me as I grew older. I became one of the young writers who wrote for freedom. As a child I had a lot of ambitions; to study abroad, to travel around the world, but you were the anchor that held me close to home. On bad days of my life, I might have blamed you for that, but had I left you chasing my dream, I would have blamed myself for the rest of my life. Even after my parents’ sudden passing away due to epidemic and my elder sacrificing his life for freedom of our nation, you were the one who held our family together. When the newspaper press was shutdown and I was running between jobs, it was you who took up initiative to start stitching clothes which could be sold for money. I guess I knew that it was your hobby and had an ambition to turn it into a profession. But I never supported you. After a lot of efforts we started a Textile mill. A small mill, which now has turned into a big textile industry, the prime source of our income. I supported, but you are the soul of Gharpan textiles.
After independence when our children were capable enough to run our business, it was you who encourage me to take up writing again. I used to write for one of the top news paper of Independent India. When I was awarded for 25yrs of my service, as a formality I thanked all the officials of the press, but in my eyes the whole credit went to you. You were there for me in every happy and sad moments of my life. Sorry! ‘There is no your or mine, these are our moments’ as you say.
Now day’s people call child marriage to be a bad practice. But had this practice not existed at our time we would not have been together. Had I grown older without you, in which case I would be chasing my dream, I would have been too stubborn to recognise you to be ‘the one’ for me. This early marriage is why our still growing minds adjusted to each other’s habits. I see people now; by the time of marriage their minds have become so rigid that a slight misunderstanding and they can’t hold their marriage together. Also husband-wife is supposed to be the most important person in each other’s life, so shouldn’t they spend most of their time together. Now, I feel very proud to say that among my achievements the most important one is that I was lucky to spend my whole life with my soul mate.
Finally I would like to thank you for all you did for me, which I never said to you in person. People say men and women are equal, they are wrong. I have always considered you to be superior. Those days we would never talk freely. So now I would like to say, what people of this modern time say,
‘I Love You. Sumati and Sanjay forever.’
Being together with you is what I wish…”
(followed by some scribbled words.)
This is my grandfather’s letter. Two days had passed for my grandmother’s death. My grandfather could never express his feelings so he always wrote letters. This was his last letter addressing his wife. Yes, last letter. Next morning we found grandpa sleeping with his head resting on the table. A piece of paper, the letter and a pen besides him. After a lot of efforts to wake him up we found out that he had passed away. I would like to conclude by saying,
‘the bond between my grandparents was so strong that even after my grandmother’s death she waited so that they could leave this world together.’