Story 51

In continuation of Story 50.

He opened the box and took out the letter. This one was written on a different kind of paper than the earlier ones and was the longest letter she had ever written to him. The other letters were more like notes. He had read this letter so many times and he knew it word to word.

My Beloved,

I miss you. I know I have said this several times over the phone, but I wanted to say it once more. The moment the train moved out of the station I could feel the emptiness within me. It seemed as if a part of me was being taken away from me. I stared at the train until I could see it no more. It was because of the tears rather than the distance covered by the train. I am a no-tears person. Or, you can say- that is what I believed all these years. Even I was surprised when I tasted the tears on my lips. That is when I realised I was crying. Everyone at the station was staring at me. A few were looking at me with the expression of “we-know-how-you-feel” and all I wanted to do was cry out loud. I wanted to be invisible or at least wanted others to leave me alone. The right thing to do would have been walking out of the station but I could not move. I did not want to move. I was hoping that you’d change your mind and come back. How selfish of me, right? Would you believe if I tell you that I stood there at the station for half an hour?

This is the first time I am experiencing something like this. Just today, after we spoke over the phone, I went for a walk and without realising where I was going I walked to your hostel. The best part, I walked to the security guard and asked him to give you a message that I was waiting for you at the gate. Can you believe it?
What is happening to me? Does being in love feel like this?
I never believed what they showed in movies. You know how much I hate all that rosy stuff. Therefore, I was shocked when I found myself entering Archies Gallery simply because I had to spend the time I usually spent with you. I walked to the Love section and went through the cards, which I would have never done had I been in my senses. Not only that, I ended buying something for you! Don’t worry; it is not a heart shaped balloon. It’s this lovely, cute little greeting card which sings “Nothing’s gonna change my love for you”. Okay, I am lying.
But, yes, I did buy something for you.

On a serious note –
I love you. I know you have always known that. You were always sure of my feelings, not because you took me for granted but it was because you knew me, sorry, know me so well.
This is the kind of love story I have always wanted where two people really understand one another. Thank you for being that kind of person to me.  
Every time we held hands or hugged; it seemed like a natural thing for me. But, this …
Being so far away from you, this is different. I never want to go through this again. This better be the first and the last time. That reminds me, last night my mom came to my room and asked me “Do you miss him?” Seriously! And, I don’t know why – I started crying. It is not like you have walked out of my life but… forget it.

You know what mom did when I started crying? She laughed and walked out of the room!
After some time, I heard her talking to my dad. She told him that I was crying. I felt so embarrassed! Worst, my dad started laughing too.

But then, they became serious and discussed our marriage. Yes, you read it right. Our Marriage! I want to know what your reaction was after reading this. I wish you were here. I wanted to see you reading this. I wanted to see the look in your eyes. Do you think it is too early for marriage or do you think we are ready?  

Okay, got to go!
Regards to your father.
Did I mention I love you?

Yours in love.

That letter still had the same effect on him as it did when he had first read it. His eyes filled with tears. He knew that she loved him, but he had been pleasantly surprised to know that she loved him so much.

He folded the letter and placed it back in the box. He was very tired and had a slight headache. Thanks to the tears that gathered in his eyes on reading the longest letter she had ever written to him. He got up and kept the box back in the drawer. Picking up the phone he ordered dinner.

He lay on the bed for a while but was awakened by repeated ringing of the doorbell. It seemed as if he had just closed his eyes but when he saw the bedside watch, he was surprised to know he had slept for half an hour. He got out of the bed hurriedly and opened the door to a frustrated delivery man.
“Sorry” he said before the man could complain.

As he had done with the tea, he served dinner in two plates. After finishing his plate, he ate from hers. He knew, people would perhaps laugh at him if they came to know that he did something like this, but he did not care. It was important for him to keep her a part of his life. She was still a part of his life. He finished the food in the plate but choked on the last morsel of food and instinctively he called out to her for a glass of water. He shook his head, got up and carried the plates to the sink. He drank a glass of water before doing the dishes. He was the one who always did the dishes after dinner. She liked that about him. Normally as he washed the dishes, she sat on the kitchen platform and talked to him. He missed her voice. Dishes took more time than it should have. He wiped his hands, switched off the lights and walked to the bedroom. He fell asleep the moment he climbed into the bed.

The memories invaded his dreams, just like he had expected. He woke up with severe headache. He stepped out of bed and started his day. As usual, the first thing he did was check his mobile for a message from her. Nope, no message. Bad beginning, he thought to himself. He followed through the rest of the procedure like a machine. He made their breakfast. Showered and got ready for office.

He knew it was going to be a long day at work. He missed his bus, was almost ran over by a speeding car. He took a cab to office, was shouted at for being late. Got a heap of work to take care of! And, the headache … it made everything seem twice worse than it was. He shook his head and lifted the first file of the day. He was not sure how he was going to handle the calculations with severe headache. He wanted to go home. He wanted her to be home. He wanted to rest his head in her lap and enjoy the head massage she gave him whenever he had headaches. She did not want him to think of her, but that was just not possible. He had tried convincing her. She was very firm about her decision.

Hours dragged by, he went to a medical store during lunch break and grabbed a sandwich on his way back. He ate the sandwich and took the tablet. There was no one waiting for him at home to give him a head massage, he had to take care of the headache in his own way before it exploded right on his desk. He was barely able to concentrate in his work even after the headache subsided. He looked at his watch. There were still fifteen minutes for the horrible office day to end. On one hand, he did not want to work and on the other hand he did not want to go back home. Go back to an empty house. He cleared his desk and finally got up to leave. His boss had left already. Office hour rules were binding for workers and not the boss, he thought bitterly. He walked straight to the elevator ignoring the looks from his colleagues.

He waited for the bus, let one bus go past him as he stood there, smoking his cigarette. “You are free to kill yourself but please don’t kill me with your smoke” he remembered her words. She was not here, so he was free to smoke. He inhaled on the cigarette and exhaled perfect rings. “How artistic” she used to taunt him often. He continued smoking as he walked away from the bus stop. He walked for half an hour on the main street before taking a right turn towards the smaller road obscured by thick bushes, the road that lead to his hangout. 

He walked for another fifteen minutes to reach the park. As expected there were a few couples getting cosy, some sitting on the benches and some behind the trees. It was a small park, where couples met to avoid prying eyes. She loved this place but she did not like how couples misused it and violated the benefits of privacy. He imagined her face. What her reaction would have been had she been here with him and had seen the couple he was looking at and was trying to not-so-look at them? But, it was late. The girl saw him and she moved away from the guy. He could never figure out (during his lone visits to this place after she had left) why the couples were comfortable doing what they were doing, in the presence of another couple but were uncomfortable in presence of a single man. Initially, he thought it was perhaps because they mistook him to be police officer without uniform. He saw yet another couple entering the park. The newly arrived couple and he noticed wild movement in the bushes behind them and before he could understand what was happening, the newly arrived couple almost dived inside the bushes. There was movement around him. A couple or two rushed out of the park and a few sat in decent positions.

After a while, four people came out of the bushes. The newly arrived couple, who, he realised were police officers without uniforms and with them was the couple responsible for the movement. The guy was half dressed, and the girl was clearly embarrassed on being caught in an awkward situation.

“Come on, all of you … get out!” shouted the male officer. The remaining couples walked out of the park wanting to stay out of trouble.
“Where is your girl?” the female officer asked rudely. 
“Sorry?” he asked, pretending to be confused. 
“Is there anyone else in here? Anybody needs help?” she shouted.
It took some time for him to realise what she meant. 
“Excuse me ma’am, I am alone.” He told her, immediately repenting the explanation.

“Wait here” she said and scanned the place to see if she could find anyone who needed help. When both the officers were convinced that there was no one in the park, he was asked to leave. The moment he was out of their sight, he heard the officers slapping the couple they had caught in action. He walked out of the park. It was a bad day; he knew it was going to be a bad day right when it had started. He walked towards the main street. All he wanted to do was spend some time alone in the park, but it seemed his luck was having a bad day too. He reached the main street and hailed a cab. He did not want to go back home but he had no option. As the cab started, he rested his head on the backrest and closed his eyes.

He opened his eyes, it was morning. He was alone, sleeping in his bed. The room, the house was silent. No smell of coffee either. He remembered something and looked around. It was not there. The luggage was missing. She had left. He checked his mobile, no message. He looked around the room for a note. She must have left a note for him. He found the note under the pillow.
“I am leaving. It is already late. I cannot wait until you wake up, nor can I wake you up just to say that I am leaving. I know you are adamant and would not agree with my decision.”

The honking of cars brought him back to the present. He looked around; another five minutes and he would be home. He thought about the dream. It had happened four months ago. She had left him to go to her parent’s house. She had not even given him the chance to say goodbye, to hold her in his arms and try to convince her to change her decision.

The cab halted in front of the gate. He got out after paying the cab driver and instinctively looked up towards his balcony. The balcony door was closed, obviously, it was closed. He avoided eye contact with the few people he came across. They too knew it was better to leave him alone. He climbed the stairs despite being tired. When he reached his flat he noticed something was different. The plants kept outside the door had been watered. He had forgotten to water them. As he was about to insert the key in the keyhole, he heard crying. He smiled. He inserted the key and the crying grew louder. Before he could turn the key, the door was opened from the inside.
He looked down at the angel staring at him. The crying had abruptly stopped. His two-month-old daughter was looking up at him from the arms of her mother. 

“Oh, my God! Just look at you” She exclaimed.
“What have you done to yourself? You look as if I have been gone for years.”
She continued. But he was not listening. He moved to hold the baby and was slapped on the wrist by her. 

“Wash your hands first, we are not going anywhere.”
He removed his shoes and walked to the washroom. He returned wiping his hands with the napkin. He smiled looking at them, they smiled back. He kissed his wife and held the baby in his arms. He was not holding her for the first time, but it felt that way.

“I was gone only for four months! And we talked almost every day! I did not, could not call you today because as usual I was late to leave.” She explained.
He smiled like an idiot. She shook her head and walked closer to take the baby from his arms. She had fallen asleep in the arms of her father.

She walked towards their room and he followed. She kept the baby on the bed and when she was sure the baby was still sleeping she walked towards him. He was still smiling.
“I love you” she said, and they kissed.

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