Forever Yours

  • 17 Feb - 23 Feb, 2018
  • Kiran Ashraf
  • Fiction

Your letter is lying on my bedside table, unopened and soaked in sadness. It reached me this morning. I remember how you always cherished writing letters and termed email as an easy and cheap alternative. I remember being judged on my preference for emails. “Such a nagging tech buff you are Sarah! I hope one day you understand how amazingly surreal it feels to pull out an old rustic letter sent by a loved one.” I do understand you now Nehal. The sudden gush of nostalgia you talked about and old memories unfolding right in front of my eyes. It’s magical just like the little pleasures of life but, you are not here Nehal and every bit of it kills me from the inside.

Nine years ago, we met at a paragliding club. I was an enthusiastic 20-year-old ready to feel the softness of clouds on my cheeks. Jumping from the hill, catching the hot wind and flying around for almost an hour with spectacular views, couldn’t think of a better weekend. “I don’t really want to die this early, you get that right?” Nehal was nervously informing his instructors and all of us around were laughing at him for being such a crybaby. I too was among the ones with the loudest giggle which made him turn around and look. Our eyes met for the very first time and nothing particularly interesting happened. No background music, no violins or instant marriage plans… nothing at all. But what I noticed was a smile that he sent my way, a kind smile. The one which conveyed the message that he was not a wuss, just a bit afraid of heights.

My goodness! I was swimming among the gliding clouds cherishing the infinite blue sky, exhaling the wet fragrance of air while watching boats afloat on the green haze appearing over the sea. I saw Nehal glissading at a distance. I recognised his orange-ish hang glider, the colour that he so adored. My initial evil plan was to just give him a nudge. I was hoping it would be enough to scare him. What a dangerous lunatic I was! Next thing I remember, he was spinning out of control trying to avoid a mid-air collision.

Good news is that we did survive but with broken bones and a few months’ bed rest.

I still have the first ‘Get Well Soon’ card you sent along with a jasmine bunch. Not to lie though, I was flabbergasted, ashamed and happy all at the same time. I mean I practically attempted to kill you mid-air and you still didn’t press any charges. To top it all, you were sending me bouquets and goodwill cards. The strong fragrance of those fresh cut flowers pervaded my room. I don’t remember how long it lasted for but it was so soothing and calming. Meeting again after long was such a funny sight. You on your crutches and me with a bandage on my forehead. More like an after-injury psychotherapy meetup. The more pumped up and enthusiastic you seemed, the more nervous I was but you just made it all so easy by accepting my apology and leaving all the bad behind for a fresh start. Oh, you were so special to me. I once asked you, ‘How do you know when it’s time to let someone go?’ You looked at me with those widened eyes and replied, ‘When the time comes, you will know.’ Over time, your eyes became softer when you looked directly at me and they had this warm, comforting look to them. I miss those eyes. Somehow, I miss the eyes that looked past me and through me. At that moment, I thought I gave myself away to you. I speculated you would get the idea of me abandoning you, but I guess I was very wrong.

Yes, we had it all. Love, friendship, trust but I wasn’t happy with myself. “Sarah, your insecurities will ruin you if you let them,” you would tell me and they very well did Nehal. I was a mess and didn’t realise that nothing you did would ever be enough. I couldn’t see that I was the only person who had the power to make things better for myself. I did rip you off me like a dying limb because I knew that if I held on to you, you would never look forward to another version of your own future again. Leaving you stranded in the middle of freezing waters without a lifeline to grab on was brutal. I wish I could have one final conversation with you. It felt like there was so much left unsaid. Three years of courtship and then six years of long silence must have shattered you, but I was thinking to rather hurt you now and have you move on in due time, as opposed to not at all. Got news of you completing the paragliding training and joined as an instructor.

– Breaking News

“A paraglider lost control of his aircraft before crashing into the cliff. Sources say that the 30-year-old Nehal was an instructor at the Glide&Fly institute for two years. Paramedics worked on the man, but he succumbed to internal injuries and died at the scene.”

It has been a few days now and seems more of a bad dream. Apologies for not attending your last rites. The weight of leaving you stranded again was something I couldn’t bear. All those years you have never sent me your written word and then it arrived today. My stomach feels knotted and my heart is racing. But I can’t contain myself. With jittery hands and a trembling voice, I open your letter,

“Dear Sarah,

I am really hoping the universe made a terrible mistake and has already set a date and time for us to meet again in another world.

Forever yours, Nehal”

My mouth went dry and fists clenched so tight that it felt like bleeding. What exactly happened to you Nehal? Was it a deliberate suicide or cruelty of fate? I may never know. •