A few days before Vasanth received his letter:
“What are you writing?”, Dadi-maa asked as she sat reading in the courtyard between her shop and her house. She lived there with her granddaughters.
“Letter… I mean Nothing”, answered her eldest granddaughter.
Dadi-ma scrutinised the eldest.
” Shouldn’t you be…what is it called again..ah! Texting your friends?”, she asked.
The eldest daughter, a twenty-something girl, who looked much older and mature for her age answered, “They are not friends at least I won’t call them that. Just some people I went to school with. And I feel like an outsider amongst them especially when they start talking about some singer I have never heard of or movies I am not interested in. The conclusion: not my type. Too pretentious. Can’t even see their thoughts.”
Saying so she got back to scribbling on the piece of paper.
“What are you going to do then?”
“Find a correspondence of course. Someone willing to listen”
Saying so she left the room. Watching her leave, Dadi-maa thought, ‘Like mother like daughter.’
The day after Vasanth receives the letter.
Vasanth and Tia are having their tea, sitting outside, as was their custom. But today, Tia’s twelve-year-old daughter, Mindy, had joined them. While the other two sipped their tea, Mindy stared at the glass of milk, as she munched her cookies.
“What’s that?”, she asked Vasanth, pointing at the white envelope in the pocket of his jacket, lying on the table, opposite her.
“Nothing”, he replies, picking up the jacket and placing it on his lap. Averting his eyes from Tia’s who’s sharp gaze had seen the envelope.
” You wrote back didn’t you?”, she asked, having no intention to mask the note of surprise from her voice.
“Yes”, Vasanth replied, still looking down.
“What did you write?”, asked the curious kid.
“He received a letter yesterday. Today he’s replying.”, Tia answered while Vasanth looked up, his face reddening.
” Love letter ?!”, Jumped the kid.
Then, the adults burst into laughter, much to the annoyance of the kid who thought a big secret was kept from her and sat down once more with a sulking face.
“I was curious”, Vasanth said, feeling the need to explain himself, ” Seemed like that person had a lot to tell…”
“And you felt like you could listen to..well whoever they are?”, asked Tia.
Vasanth nodded in reply.
” I can understand. To think of it, yes, it did seem like they had a lot to talk about.”
“Who had?”, asked the kid.
“We..don’t know”, answered Vasanth.
Mindy looked puzzled. Expecting an explanation. But none came.
” Now, go post it”, Tia said with a smile as she began picking up their empty cups.
“Yes”, he stood up, put his jacket back on and left, Mindy, calling behind him, ” GET ME A CHOCOLATE”
Two days later, Mrs Murti’s shop received a letter, addressed from Joey’s.
A twenty-something girl got hold of it before anyone could see it on the shop counter. Carefully, taking it into the light, she tore open the envelope. And the letter fell onto the table. She began unfolding it but- she heard someone calling her. Quickly hiding the letter among the many other things on her table. She ran down the stairs.
Later that night, in the light of her table lamp, she began to read the letter. It said-
I don’t know who you are. Neither where you are. Nor do I know your name or what you look like. And I am fine with not knowing these things.
Because you see I am starting to see you, even know you perhaps, through your words. Now, you might think that words are just words, void perhaps. But they are not. You see, the way we use these seemingly innocent words betrays a lot about who one is.
I never liked the rain. Everything is damp and soaked. Buses are late, potholes suddenly emerge and no matter how careful you walk under the raincoat or the umbrella, you have to get a little drenched by the rain before you reach wherever you want to. That’s its rule. And there are seldom exceptions. I don’t like that.
But now, your words and essentially your thoughts have shown me a different side of the rain. It’s like I have started seeing the notorious kid for who he really is: a kid.
Somewhat of a rationalized view, I have. But I am curious too. So who are you?
Something tells me I might not get an answer. So I won’t ask again. I’d listen to the voice your words have. They too might betray your identity someday.
But I don’t want you to write back just because I am curious. No. But because I have a feeling; you want to talk but more importantly to be heard; to let your thoughts out into the world, something I guess you seldom do.
So the only question you can answer is, will you write back?
A faint smile climbed onto her lips as she folded the letter back, returning it to its envelope. For a few minutes, she sat there still, staring through her window; looking at nothing particular, seeing the light of the streetlamp seep into the room. Then jolting she picked up her writing pad and began scribbling.
Two days later, Vasanth received another letter one morning. He began to read-
‘The arrival announced the answer.
Can you paint? I can’t. Yet every time there’s a scenery around me I can’t help but want to paint. Or to be converted in an instant into some old oil painting or a Polaroid blurred by the passage of time.
The reason why I am saying all this and will probably say more is simple. There’s this room, whose gloomy ambience is comforting. The singular window it has is permanently covered with a sheet, such that one cannot see what’s beyond. And yet, the sun rays creep in. Slowly and decisively. Unhampered. It creates a nice contrast in this otherwise dark room. The light penetrates the darkness, slowly dispersing itself so that the room is no longer dark. The gloom retreated itself into the corners. Can you picture it?
It has a certain vibe, a timelessness if you will, that spellbinds you once you step inside.
It reminds me of a period, where one would sit in such a room, overlooking through a window, a vast expanse of land covered with carefully planted shrubberies and the wilderness that’s just beyond the compound, inborn in nature; perhaps then, the window isn’t covered. A faint song is being carried through the wind and you sit there lost in your own bubble, reading under the faint scent of a scented candle or perhaps writing a letter.
An ideal, laid back condition for a dreamer to dream on. Isn’t it? I am such a dreamer. What do I dream of? What does anyone dream of really? Everything one has always wished for. Maybe that’s why we like creating fake scenarios that are always in our favour. Gives us power, control that we think we lack in our lives. But it’s a false sense. A hoax.
There is order and chaos but no ultimate control over either. The light might sneak inside, things might brighten, but the darkness that looms in the corner fights for the chaos.
Each has an upper hand sometimes. But not ultimate control. It’s always changing like the phases of the moon. We are like the window, that must always learn to carry both light and darkness. Order and chaos.
After all, we each have our demons to battle. And so do I, something called self-doubt and fear.
Willing to acknowledge her downfalls and to listen in turn.’
Thus, one letter leads to another and then another. Until it becomes a part of their lives, sharing each time a little part of their being; observing as the burdens they carried along slowly became lighter.
The fear and self-doubt were slowly steadily, battled with belief, the rain began to be less whined about.
But everything comes to an end, a few flowers don’t necessarily mean the tree isn’t drying. A few changes don’t necessarily bring you to the other side. There’s a long way to go. So just as Vasanth thought, he understood ‘someone’, a letter makes him doubt himself.
‘It’s mid-July’, it read, ‘One cannot escape the dark gloomy clouds for long now. It is catching up with me. I feel it all; isolation, loneliness and solitude all at once. Like three different personalities are trying to get control. Each, trying to get control. I’m surrounded by people I care about and yet at times, I can’t reach them. It’s like I’m back in the room, overlooking the expanse of land, only my voice is too far away to be heard, words too foreign to be understood..’
Next Part: Coming soon