I am sorry we fought that day. And I am sorry it turned so ugly. It wasn’t like us. It shouldn’t have been the way it was.
I am sorry for being stupid too. Why couldn’t you just ask me? How was I supposed to know your news was not just news? A nice new job usually entails congratulations from friends. I did just that; did what was appropriate. It doesn’t mean I want you to leave. It means I wish you well.
Your accusations that day kept me up all night. I have been up very late since then, thinking. It is quite apparent now that I am emotionally impaired. Why else would I fail to realize the truth for so long?
I have realized the truth, Jish, I have finally. And with the truth I have come up with all the answers in defence of the accusations you lay against me. I am penning them for you in this letter, because, now that I know the truth, I don’t think I will be able to tell them to your face.
It is the sweetest truth I have known. They say facing truth is hard; that naked truth is ugly. But if truth is as beautiful and sublime as this, I shall love to face truth every day. But then, will all truth have your face on them?
Your face, your voice, your entire carriage is written all over my truth. My truth is spelled just as your name is spelled. You are my truth. The sudden sweet realization that I love you, perhaps loved you always, is my truth. I was stupid enough to have failed to realize it sooner.
How long have you known that you love me? Why didn’t you hint sooner? Perhaps you did; emotionally impaired that I am, perhaps I did not pick up the hints. I guess I am grateful we fought; else, I would still be clueless about what I really want in life.
You did accuse me of not knowing what I want in life, didn’t you? Well, Jishnu, I know now. I do still want to write a best-seller, although, God knows, with such low emotional quotient I may end up being an obituary writer; but I also want to share my life with you.
It is so simple, what I want. At least, thinking about it and confessing it in this letter is. Because it is so simple, perhaps, is why I have never thought about it. Almost like breathing it is; you never really appreciate how crucial breathing is until that time when the easiest and most involuntary activity is bereft you.
Is that how I have come to realise the truth? Did the prospect of losing you make me realize I cannot live without you? Is my love born out of a need for comfort in a secure company? Will you feel your emotions belittled if I say I think that is why I love you?
Is it my fault really? I have read somewhere that in every relation one person is the giver; the other receives. Haven’t you, by virtue of your untiring patience, ceaseless compassion and immense care make me rely on you blindly, with complete faith? I hadn’t fathomed how far I depend on you; wouldn’t have done so in the days to come hadn’t you decided to remove the ladder and keep me hanging with your decision to leave.
I had a dream the night after our fight; one of those scary ones which make me wake up crying and terrified. In my dream I had fast forwarded 30 years. I saw myself sitting in my dream library, the one we saw in that classical period design catalogues. I saw myself sitting at a big teak table in front of a French window, writing away. Everything looked so peaceful, so serene. Suddenly there was this loud rap on the French window and I turned back to see. There, pressed against the window, was a large crowd of very pale, sickly people, each brandishing pages torn from a book. As is the nature of dreams, unaided I understood the pages to be torn from a critically acclaimed book I had authored. With this sudden realisation I found myself facing the angry mob. Angry hands stretched out to me and the pages from my book were thrown at my face, as the mob began demanding explanations of the plot and justification of acclamation of my apparently meaningless work. They accused my book to be incomprehensible, ineffectual and draffy. Their pointed fingers and blazing glare made me shrink, smaller and smaller and smaller still; for fear of being trampled I started running, dodging the gigantic legs of the accusers, stumbling and falling on a heavily potholed road. As I ran, thousands of origami planes made from the torn pages of my book came chasing after me. I kept running; my hands and feet bloody from innumerable falls along the way. Suddenly it became very bright and I found myself standing in front of a giant flight of marble stairs going all the way up to the sky. And then from very far above came your voice, calling my name, telling me to climb up, calling me to safety. In my dream I felt the power of relief with unsurpassed intensity. As the origami planes came chasing, I started climbing the stairs to reach you. My tiny dream frame laboured to drag itself up the huge steps. Then suddenly, I found myself slipping and sliding down. I looked down and saw the flight of stairs flattening into a ramp that descended into pitch black darkness. As I began sliding down the marble slope towards that abyss, I strained my ears, but your voice was not to be heard any more. And the start which woke me up made me realize the truth.
Perhaps my love for you is a needy love. If it is, you have made it so. And the surprising thing is I think you want me to love you just that way; to depend on you, to let you. You weren’t angry that day, were you? No; my casual compliments and encouragement to shift your base made you sad, more than it enraged you. You felt I could do without you; that I no longer needed you. Well, darling, my dream answers that, doesn’t it?
How long does a typical dream last? 10 minutes? 30 minutes? Most certainly not a lifetime. To think that the terrors of my dream, the panic of getting lost and the terrible, terrible agony of trying to reach you in vain shall be my share for as long as I live if I let you go, is too much for me to bear. I don’t want to live in my own nightmare forever. I am being selfish, yes; at least I know what I want and I am going for it. Isn’t that what you want of me?
I can’t wait to tell you. In fact, I won’t tell you. You shall read my words and know. It is becoming of an aspiring novelist, don’t you think, professing my affections through words I create? The thing I do best for the one I love best.
I want you to take the job though. I would want my ‘keeper’ to be rich!
I should finish now and rush to hand you this letter to let our real story begin quickly.
Adieu darling, meet you in real world.
P.S. I am enclosing this letter in ‘Wuthering Heights’. Sorry I forgot to lend it when you asked a month back.”
Durba is a sprightly, slightly impulsive, jocular young woman of about twenty five driven by the one true desire of, in her own words, “writing a best-seller before turning 30 or dying, whichever is earlier”. She is insentient about most things social but deeply passionate about written words and her best friend, Jishnu. Durba and Jishnu have been friends since their early academic years. Theirs is a mutually complementary friendship. Durba’s imprudence is balanced by Jishnu’s alert foresight and Durba creates enough excitement to give Jishnu migraines. They have cruised together through academic distresses, family crises and illness and celebrated festivities in each other’s company. In fact, they have been more than friends. They have been each other’s confrere, counsellor and confidant. Jishnu has guided Durba as a father and protected her (from her own follies) like a brother. And cared for her; quietly, deeply, steadily. For, as they both grew to become indispensable parts of each other’s lives, Jishnu’s insight made him realize, quite early in their friendship, that Durba’s joviality and insouciance was extremely vulnerable in face of adverse criticism. And that is why he kept negating Durba’s high opinion of herself as a prospective popular author. He knew she would eventually write a best-seller, but she had a long way to go still and he wanted to prepare her for the disappointments along the way. Yes; Jishnu cared for Durba very much. A fact Durba failed to grasp all along. Durba’s frivolity in matters of the heart and emotions was a constant topic of argument between them. It was also the reason Durba and Jishnu fought that day. For the first time in many, many years, Jishnu’s patience had worn thin with Durba’s impracticality.
Durba is impractical. Is? No; Durba was impractical. Durba was rash. Scornful of advice from all her well wishers, she prided in her obstinate self, her heedlessness to well meaning admonitions. The consequences of her carelessness were corrected by friends and family when she was with them. But they weren’t there that day as she rushed through the speeding traffic disregarding the warnings of the passersby. The bus that hit her was later torched by angry mob, charges were filed against the driver and the opposition party had had a field day blaming the government for failing to check road accidents. Everybody blamed everybody else, but only her closest ones knew she had hurried unnecessarily.
They would have thought differently had they found her letter. They would have realised Durba had not hurried unnecessarily; her mad dash had been to save herself a lifetime of misery. She had rushed to escape her nightmare from happening to her in actuality. Her mission was jeopardised by sheer bad timing. They just had to see the letter. Unfortunately they didn’t.
They had found her book though, the well read copy of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, lying beside her in the road, opened in the middle, pages coming loose and flying about in the strong wind. It is with Jishnu now; has been for three years since the accident. Jishnu used to carry it with him every time he visited Durba in her hospital bed; reading her passages from it, hoping she will hear him. He isn’t going to, anymore. Durba’s family have decided to take her off the life support system. They can’t bear the expenses and the doctors have convinced all efforts are futile. The doctors had said she won’t feel any pain when she’s taken of the life support system; that she was in a deep sleep and will go in her sleep, peacefully.
Would she? When he had heard her family’s decision, Jishnu had remembered how Durba used to have scary nightmares. She would always tell him of her dreams to ease her fright. For three years now he had held her hand, trying to convey through physical contact that he was there, that she was safe. But now she would be trapped in her dreams, her nightmares, forever; she would be lost in a world where he could not reach her.
Durba had gone far away. Her vestige would perish soon. Jishnu dialled the number of his visa agent. As always, Durba managed to have her way. He was going abroad.
Author’s note: I had written this for an online magazine months back, in March 2012. This is my first attempt at storytelling and guess there’s more work to be done and skill to be honed.
(24th Mar., 2012) + (13th Nov., 2012)