19th November 1919
I have been trying to find her since many days but all in vain. It seems I am just chasing shadows. My heart desperately longs to see her, to meet her once again. As the world regains peace again after the so called World War, my world is still in search for the happiness it once had. The war had an agonising grip of death on a staggering large population of people, I feel, though, as if it has affected me the most. I am not sure whether I should be thankful for being alive because now it just doesn’t matter…… Not without her.
5th July 1917
I was running through the darkness, alone and without knowing where to go. I ran and ran until I fell. I don’t remember how long I lay there for all I could sense was silence. As the morning sun rose over the horizon, I tried to get up but my injured feet could barely manage to bear my weight. I was struggling to move when I saw smoke rising nearby. I went to take a closer look and saw a wooden house from where this smoke came. Wondering who would inhabit such an isolated place, I glanced through the window and saw a woman adding small sticks to a fireplace. Suddenly she turned and saw me. She was fair and had long, dark brown hair.
“Who are you?” she enquired with fear in her voice.
“I mean you no harm. I am injured” I replied.
“What happened?” She seemed less afraid as she saw my battered condition.
“The Enemy! They attacked my house and took away all that I had. They captured me and… and tortured me too… for three days. Yesterday evening, I managed to run away before they could kill me.” My strength was fading away as I spoke and then I was blank.
The next thing I remember is lying on an old bed in a dusty room. The light coming through the windows suggested that it was afternoon time. As I gathered strength to get up, I noticed that the wounds on my legs had been dressed. Before I could reconcile with the place I was in, she entered the room. She was wearing a plain traditional dress. I could clearly see her face now. Her beauty startled me.
“Move slowly. Your wounds are still fresh and can start bleeding” Her voice was sweet and caring.
“Uh… How long have I been out?” I asked her.
“You came here yesterday” she replied. “You must be hungry”, she said after a pause.
All I could do was give a nod. She led me to another room and beckoned me to sit near a small wooden table and served me with a few loafs of bread and porridge. Seeing me eat hungrily and voraciously, she smiled, for the first time. There was something about her that made me feel like I was at home.
“Do you live here alone?” I was eager to know.
“Hmm” was all she said.
“Why? Where is your family?” I asked.
“I have no one”, she replied blankly. It was certain that she didn’t want to talk more about it and I wondered whether she was also, like me, a victim of war.
After finishing the meal, I started walking towards the room where I had woken up. The walls, the roof, furniture, floor, everything about the house seemed to be suggesting that it was a very old one. The memories of my own home came to my mind. The brilliant marble structures, the grand balcony, enchanting lights and a beautiful rose garden; all lost and gone. With grief raging in my heart, I lay down in the bed and slept. It was dark outside when I woke up. I was feeling restless and went out of the room. She was nowhere to be seen. The other room had an iron bed and a partially broken table. I saw a book lying on this table. As I was lifting it up to read, I heard her voice.
“Put it down!”
“Why? What is it?” I asked, turning back.
“It’s my personal diary. I write it every day. I don’t like anyone reading it” She seemed quite worried.
“Okay okay its fine” I replied with a smile and kept it back.
She took care of me as days kept passing and I recovered. She didn’t like to talk much but I used to share all my past troubles with her and would feel lighter. Her rare but wonderful smiles made me forget all my sorrows. Sometimes I would just lose myself in her eyes. She was so simple and yet so unique at the same time. In a world full of hatred and suffering, she was my only source of peace and joy. ‘Love’ is a word which can’t adequately describe the feelings I started to harbour in my heart for her. Her sympathy and care meant life to me but I wanted more; I wanted her to love me. I tried confessing my love to her but I would feel shy every time. Then I thought that I should have some surety in my life before becoming a part of hers. I decided to leave for the city and become a capable person before returning to her. I knew I wouldn’t be able to control my tears while bidding her a goodbye, so I decided to write a letter, thanking her and promising to return once my life is settled. An old broken pen and a dirty sheet of paper was all I could find. Nonetheless I managed to write the letter. Sealing it with wax, I kept it under her diary while she was asleep, and left the house, starting my journey.
The sun was setting when I reached the city of Munich next day. I went straight to the house of Reiner, my childhood friend and the only person left in the world whom I could ask for help. He greeted me with a warm welcome and arranged for food and stay. After knowing my ordeal he helped me to set up a small business. Due to unfavourable economic conditions the business didn’t profit much initially but gradually, it grew. Within two years I had earned enough to repay Reiner’s debt and live a normal life. I began feeling financially, emotionally and mentally more stable. It was time, I decided, to make her a part of my life. She; whose care had inspired me to start afresh and whose memories had engrossed me all this while. Full of hopes and dreams, I left for her place.
The house was looking older and even more dilapidated than it was when I had left it. I knocked at the door but there was no answer. I knocked again, harder this time, but with the same result. With anxiety growing inside, I tried opening the door and surprisingly, it wasn’t locked. I went inside and found the house full of dust. Except for the bleak rays of light coming through the broken windows, it was dark. I searched every room for her but couldn’t find even the faintest signs of life. Wondering what happened, I went outside. I searched the surrounding area but she was nowhere to be found.
I went back inside and started looking around again. After sometime, thinking about her diary, I entered the room which had the broken table. I saw the diary lying on it, covered with dust. As I was picking it up, I saw the letter I had left for her. It was still sealed. “She didn’t read it!” I spoke to myself. I opened it to read. To my surprise it was a haphazard arrangement of words, not corresponding to the memories I had of it. Still I could make that the handwriting was mine. I stood there for some time, perplexed and astonished. Then, suddenly, a strange and surreal thought dawned on me. A thought questioning the validity and truth of my memories of her, of the love I had for her and remarkably, of her herself. With this thought striking my mind like a hammer and disbelief growing within, I opened the diary to see the last entry and my heart skipped a beat. The date on it was 24th September 1875.
If you had to read it twice, my purpose is fulfilled.