I dreamt of you last night. It wasn’t the first time if I am being honest, but what took me by surprise was how clearly I saw your face. I had forgotten how potent your cocky smile can be and it hit me yesterday, even in my sleep I think I missed a few beats. I don’t know what you look like now; the face in my dreams has always been the face that haunted me many summers ago. Have you got wisps of grey amidst the waves of your black hair or do you have a shinning bald patch? Do you have a granddaughter who loves running her hands over it? I saw your face last night, close to mine, so close that I could reach out and feel its smoothness if I wanted to. I almost did, wanting to touch the crow’s feet that appear when you smile. Over the years your face had become a blur and though I kept meeting you, secretly, in my dreams from time to time; I never really saw your face. I felt your presence though, walking beside me on dusty roads, holding my hand in a nightmare; sometimes I smelt you there. Remember that summer long ago? The one we spent immersed in each other, spending every spare moment in each others arms. I’ve never spoken about it, guarded those moments jealously, not ready to share it with anybody. Sometimes with my grandson sitting on my lap babbling about faraway things, I think about you. Some months back my doctor asked me to go for walks, so now I go to the park nearby, buy myself an ice cream and wander around for a while. There is boy there, lanky, quiet; he sits on the grass with carelessly untied shoe-laces, always lost in one book or another. One day he lifted his face and looked straight at me; his eyes reminded me of you. Once when my girl was just two or three, she had brought home a stray puppy from somewhere and as I cleaned the shivering little thing all I could think of was you. You always wanted to rescue and adopt pretty much anything that was alive. Much later, one day my husband had come in ranting about something and all I saw was your indignant face and impassioned eyes. Sometimes on solitary afternoons when I have the house to myself I sit and read your letters, sinking my nose in them, trying to catch a whiff of you and all I smell is musty paper. Once I sat by the window writing, and I turned around to see my girl standing there shyly tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She told me there was someone she wanted me to meet and there in my drawing-room sat a boy who couldn’t take his eyes off of her. His eyes on her animated face reminded of you. I wanted to touch your face yesterday, wanted to feel its cool smoothness again, but I was afraid. What if I reached out and the face went away? I wanted to shift a little closer, feel your breath on my face; I stayed where I was and contented myself watching that lopsided grin. The nurse on duty is here to check on me and she looks disapprovingly at me, I should have been asleep a long time back. I promise her that I will go to sleep shortly and she obliges. Everyone obliges me these days; they are never sure which wish will be my last, so they always give in. I have been rambling for too long and almost forgot why I started writing this letter. I hope your life has been as happy and full of love and magic as mine. I am certain you have woken up every morning happy just to be alive, you’ve always been that optimistic. I only wish to thank you, for that long-lost summer and the memories that you left behind; memories that kept wafting in and out of my life over the years. Thank you for the memories.
Sahana folded the letter before her silent tears could blot the neat lines written in ink. She had been clearing the table beside the empty hospital bed when she came across the envelope. She had tucked it into her purse and had forgotten all about it, today while rummaging through her purse for her kajal her hands had brushed against the envelope and she had opened the letter to read it. She slipped the letter back into the envelope and sealed it; posting it the next morning. Somewhere far away a few days later, one summer morning, an old man sat on a recliner running his fingers over a smooth but fraying old yellow ribbon that belonged to a girl he once knew. His grandson brought him out of his reverie and handed him a letter. Wrinkled hands dipped into the envelope and brought out the crisp folded sheet inside, he was hit by draft of familiar smell and his heart skipped a beat and then another. His grandson came back a while later and found his grandfather asleep his mouth twisted into a lopsided grin a folded letter clutched in his hand. He placed a hand on his grandfather’s shoulder and tried to gently shake him awake. 30 seconds later he ran out of the room to call for an ambulance.