A cloud of dust engulfed me as the laundry-bag fell down.The floor has not been swept for over a week and the tainted windows have ushered in all the dust of the unmindful traffic of the metropolis in…
Stifling sneezes, I , rummaged through the bag to find, a moderately stinking shirt, if not a clean one.There were many clean clothes in the wardrobe which smelled of naphthalene balls and her shampoo…I was not sure that I could stand inhaling that scent without crying.
I had to be strong.. at least act strong, ……. for her sake.. I flipped through the soiled and stained clothes and finally found something passable…. the yellow DENIM shirt which she had gifted me, for no-reason…. “I liked it.. It will look good on you.” That’s how she replied when I asked her the reason why she was gifting me out of the blue..
Yes, that’s her….. She had no rules or restraints….She was like a kite , let loose, ..She skipped around with her infectious smile.No one could stay angry with her for too long, for , she was an angel…. my own pretty angel.
I shut my eyes trying to conjure up her image .But , as always , the exercise proved futile,for I have never been able to picture her in my mind..I quickly revived myself, .. I had to get going…. I released the shirt from my iron grip , for I had been holding it too tight. I slipped it through my arms and moved my hand over the collar, just like she does…..As I lowered my gaze to start buttoning my shirt, I saw the shirt which I just removed, .It lay on the floor….crushed and soiled… That was the shirt I wore, the last time I saw her…. I took it back in my hands , and my hand brushed against the bulging pocket…
Probably a hotel bill or a memo .I took it out, crushing it, as I pulled it..THERE…!!!!! Her sweet aroma wafted in my nose, flooding me with memories. I stared at the crumpled sheet in my hand and on the folded edge , i saw a scribble, that I recognized, her signature.
“TICK”, “TICK” ,”TICK”
Three seconds passed, as I stood staring at that sheet and then it slowly registered.. It was that letter…her last letter to me…..
The memory of that day came flooding back….That day when she had gifted me something as ordinary as a REYNOLDS PEN ,saying “It reminded me of our college days..” She has done it all the while., but each time, these random gifts of hers only surprises me..
Her eyes twinkled with the brightness of a thousand splendid suns as I held her close and whispered in her ear”WOMAN! You amaze me..!!!!!!”
She tugged at my shirt and slipped a sheet into my pocket..She trapped my hands ordering me not to read it until she came back from work..
“Don’t even dream of reading that letter without me” . Saying so, she left the room in a hurry, because, as always, she was late for work..
I Couldn’t read it.. because she never came back.That night , on my way back home., I got a call..I smiled as I picked it up, for her name and her face flashed across the white screen.I was greeted by an urgent “HELLO!SIR!”. Even before I could reply, a voice from the other side urgently inquired.
“Are you Mr.Madhav? Do you happen to know Miss,Anuradha?”
“Well, She is my wife”, I managed to blurt out, for I was tensed, really really tensed.
“Sir, Your wife is admitted in the hospital.She is in a critical stage.I called you as your number was listed in the I.C.E(IN-CASE-OF-EMERGENCY) contact list.Do come to “LAKEVIEW HOSPITAL” as soon as possible.”
The line went dead and my world came to a stand still……… I couldn’t breathe…I remained in a dizzy state of near unconsciousness for a while. My limbs refused to move,even as my entire body screamed for release.
As I regained my sense of time and space all I could hear was a murmur inside my head,”I CAN’T LOSE HER! I CAN’T LOSE HER”
Then it was a mad rush. Next, I remember seeing her wan face, white and green tubes and an array of equipment marring her serene face and arms.
I don’t know how long the surgery lasted..The next time I see her, she is clad in green hospital suite , the beautiful curly hair on the left side of her head all gone…. a stitched wound taking its place….They say it took 9 hours for the 3 major surgeries… They were all telling me what happened, asking me questions.. But I refused to listen…for nothing made sense to me. She didn’t open her eyes for 3 days. On the 4th day,she opened her eyes. One look into them and I broke down in tears….I cried like a lost child in a crowd…I was frightened… I didn’t know whether a normal life was possible again.After I cried, I, finally accepted the situation at hand..
I sat near her, holding her hand, while a gentle-man claiming to be attorney of “MAHINDRA” talked to me….. She was returning home in a newly purchased “GYPSY”, when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a divider, the impact of which send the vehicle, along with her flying, to land 2 meter ahead. He went on to say how the vehicle was triple-checked and test-driven before it was sold to her.. BUT, I was not listening. It didn’t matter “How” or “When” … what mattered was “Why?” “Why her ?!!”
A stray tear rolled down my left eye and fell on the crumpled sheet.. The piece of paper, which was her last gift to me……..”DON’T EVEN DREAM OF READING THAT LETTER WITHOUT ME” her last line echoeed in my ears…
And I dashed out of the room.My unbuttoned shirt flapped, as I ran,I didn’t stop to close the door or start my car,….. for I couldn’t care less… I couldn’t drive , while a steady storm of tears was blocking my vision. I got into the first cab I saw and closed my eyes.Doctors have told “IT’S HOPELESS”, “IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF HOURS” ….. But she held on for this long, for a week. All this while , I have shaken my head at these expert’s statements.. I have placed my trust on her….But now, an iota of fear creeped into my being ..I was desperate to reach her as soon as possible.
I rushed into the hospital cramming into stretchers and bumping into surgeons.. Relief flooded in as I saw the green light flashing across the screen beside her.There she lay, her eyes half-open.. She has not moved an inch from the last time I saw her..
I sat near her, holding her hand and whispered to her “SEE! It’s our letter. We are gonna read this now… and as soon as we finish reading it, you are getting out of this bed and walking back home with me…” I blinked back the tears as I planted a kiss on her forehead. I straightened the piece of paper and read aloud for her… with her…..
” Oiiii Madhuuu..
I bet you haven’t figured out why that REYNOLDS pen reminded me of our college days… Remember, the first day we met at college? You asked me for a pen in Latin class and later I found you chewing the edge of the very pen I gave you.I still remember the sorry look on your face , when I pulled the pen from your mouth and wiped it on your shirt. Well, It was a REYNOLDS pen. :P
How I laughed ., the next time , I saw you… Well, that flagged off a beautiful friendship,didn’t it?!!” …Was it mere coincidental that we kept running into each other almost every day ?!!All those times, we spent talking random stuff in the library, heads hidden behind piles of books.! All those times we played pranks on our buddies! All those times you sang songs on my demand………….
I have no idea how I fell in love with you… It just happened..for all of a sudden you were the only thing that mattered, your smile was the only thing that I wished to see, your presence was the only thing I craved for..I realized that the same thing was happening to you too and I didn’t know what to make out of it………And finally that day you told me “I LOVE YOU ” ..I remember hugging you tight before saying “I LOVE YOU TOOO..” Both of us cried real hard that day..”
Both of us had a hard time convincing our families…. But you always believed that they would come around ..You used to say “How can they miss seeing the fact that we are meant to be together?…How can they not know that we are parts of a whole and complete each other”…. I have never, not once, doubted your love.. for I could feel it in my being..There was nothing that your hug couldn’ t fix, There was nothing impossible, if you said so and there was this sense of belonging when you were near.
Just Yesterday. As I was lying beside you, watching you sleep….I had tears flooding my eyes..FOR you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You have given me all that I have ever wanted, and even more..You have shown me things of whose existence I barely knew.With you, I FEEL SPECIAL, I FEEL CHERISHED…
Remember , the second week after our marriage, you gifted me a tiny “GYPSY” model which you had made when you were 11.You told me that it was your second favorite thing in this world. I still remember the twinkle in your eyes, when you explained to me how you would spray your GYPSY red, black and yellow..Years have passed by, … You got busy with work …You never had time to chase your dreams and desires . but you made time to make my dreams come true..
It was last year that I finally signed the contract with “MAHINDRA” asking them to make a model of your likes and wishes… I gave them that tiny model , which they had to replicate and I studied driving a gypsy too.. By the time you read this, you would be having the keys of your 2nd favorite thing in your hand ……………… And I would be there beside you to wipe your tears of joy.
All this while, I saw you toiling hard to make me happy and in the process you forgot your dreams .I don’t want you to miss out anything in this life….And you don’t have to struggle to make me more happy…..because..there is nothing you can do..I have already got the greatest gift of my life…. YOU…..And believe me when I say this, I would never want anything more in my life…FOR ALL I KNOW, YOU ARE HERE..AND THAT’S ALL I CARE”
loads and loads of love
I looked at the woman who was the basis of my existence.The woman who walked with me through all the bad and good times .SHE, who trusted me with her life, she who remembered every tiny detail of the conversations I had with her, she who cared for my dreams , which I myself have forgotten…….TEARS ran down my eyes, soaking the letter and her hand which held mine on all bad times …I pictured her hand reaching out to wipe my tears , but it never happened.For some reason . , I knew that my girl would hold on…… for leaving me would hurt me and she can never hurt me……
And she did hold on… for 22 long years,,….ALL the while I prayed for a miracle ..to see her fluttering around like a butterfly again.. to see her smile, as I tell her a hundred times.. that I LOVED HER beyond any sane means……
AS I recall all this, kneeling down , beside her….. I realize that I was already blessed with a miracle…. SHE was the miracle….. her existence , which medical science couldn’t comprehend was a miracle….. and as I gaze up at the tombstone…all that I can see is this line…..her last line
“FOR YOU ARE HERE, AND, THAT’S ALL I CARE”