Partition Stories: The Letter (Fiction)

The sound of the water drops was haunting her constantly. The sky outside was bland, lacking all the sunlight. Her life was no different. It lacked sunshine, and it had been like that for more than a year or two.

Vintage letters of the 1700/1800 century

The sound of the water drops was haunting her constantly. The sky outside was bland, lacking all the sunlight. Her life was no different. It lacked sunshine, and it had been like that for more than a year or two.

A moment or two, she came back to the room, sat beside the charpai and picked up her hand mirror. Sharp black eyes stared back at her, along with a face that used to be young. She had wrinkles now…and black bags under her eyes.

Her hands shook, and she struggled to maintain her sanity. A moment later, that ink pot at a distance caught her attention, as she picked up the quill and dipped it in the pot. The hands came in motion, and her eyes unleashed stream of their own.

“Please find me…you promised that you would return. It has been over a year now. You cannot just disappear without a trace!”

Normally, she used to be happy. Long had gone those days when she wet her pillows with her tears. He had never been the one to say goodbye, nor did he ever leave her standing. Then what had gone wrong?! She still remembered the date. 12th August, 1947. They had met there, under the shadow of the nawab’s haveli. He left, saying that the difference of their religions would never stand between their true love …and that he would be back.

And then…all hell broke loose. She was never the one to listen to the radio, nor did she ever bother herself with the subcontinent’s politics. But what she did know was that something was ongoing…and it had taken its toll on everyone. Even her family had stopped going to the mandir for a few months.

Then, it all stopped…

Today, for some reason, she had been hit with a crippling nostalgia once more. Everything reminded her of him…

When the walls and the dark ambiance started weighing on her, she swallowed that choking saliva, and rushed to the stairs. Perhaps the outside world could offer her the respite that she was looking for.

Her eyes met that old man in grey clothes, carrying a pouch of letters on his back.

The adrenaline surged in her blood, relieving her headache. The heart was about to jump out of her chest. She didn’t care for that crippling nausea, nor did her back pain make itself felt to her. The slippers left here somewhere when she rushed to the door.

“Anita…listen…you will want to take this…”

Her mother spared her a pitiful glance…

“Look…”

Her mother tried to intervene. She didn’t listen.

“Why are you here?! At this address…!”

Her voice was polite. For some reason, she couldn’t manage a firmer tone.

“Here…I have a letter for you…”

The old postman handed her an old letter.

That was the moment she had awaited for more than a year…or maybe more…

Dead flowers fell from the envelope as she unwrapped it, revealing the contents to herself. There was a bloodied piece of cloth…and a few scribbled words…

“Anita, its your Mujtaba…

I have thought about it and maybe I don’t want to go to Pakistan! I cannot spend a day without you, Anita. I am coming back… Father says I would be suicidal to return to New Delhi, but I want to come back to you!”

She spent considerable effort to swallow her saliva, and keep breathing. Her heart was sinking in a pit. The water she had drunk a while ago had turned leaden in her stomach.

“I…cannot…continue…I hope…this…letter…finds…you….I…love…you…father…was…right…”

Those were the only words that met her. She collapsed on the floor nearby, the walls revolving around her. Her mother rushed to her aid.

Written by Awais Ali Shah

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