A Letter to Remember

Aishani Biswas

Photo Credit: miqla3/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

15th September 1992

Dear Urooj,

You don’t know me and you don’t have to. But I figured, after all these months, I must stop being so naive—spending days and nights imagining you with me, having conversations with an invisible you holding my cold hands. When I close my eyes, you smile, calling me to join you in a dusky meadow. This is strange since I’ve never been to a meadow, having spent all my childhood in the city. I like to imagine they are a part of your memories, peacefully journeying with mine.

I will be honest, I hated you the first time I saw you. The electric blue dupatta around your head clashed with the beige uniform and even I, a fashion amateur, thought it looked awful. But that was not the only reason for my dislike and later hatred. My family, unfortunately, is strict. They do not understand love, especially if it has to do something with anyone outside the community. But don’t judge them yet because, at the time, I didn’t either. I was raised to be a pure, perfect child with a devotee soul. Unlike many who claim to change after they meet their lover, I didn’t. At least, not immediately. I silently followed my parents and their narrow-minded beliefs, even after watching you every day socialising with everyone irrespective of their religion and gender. I grew to hate you more. I could like you if I wanted to. I just didn’t choose that. I would watch you, and I confess, follow you on my grey bicycle.

My opinion of you changed the day your father slapped your left cheek twice and suggested you leave the house. I witnessed the whole thing unwrap before me. When he closed the door on you, you sat on the sideway. But you didn’t cry, not did you beg him to let you in. You just sat there. I sat down, too, waiting for the end. The more I watched you, my eyes searching every part of your body, from your mehndi-laden hands fiddling the end of your kameez to your bare feet shuffling against the hard stone pavement, I realised it. We are so similar. We don’t let our emotions rule us, and wait for the situation to care for it itself. And we are brave enough to do so, without unnecessarily interfering with life. I didn’t exactly feel sympathetic for you, just wanted to tell you that there is at least one person in the world who understands the uselessness of emotional outbursts. Nevertheless, the trick worked. Your mother finally arrived and took you inside. I stayed there till midnight, hoping to see you on the verandah. My wish remained a wish.

I fell sick the next day. My head felt as though it had burst open and my hands were heavy. Grandmother prayed endlessly to god. Nothing. The shaman inferred that I was possessed by the devil. My father locked me in my room, cursing and ordering my mother for another ritual. At first, I had nothing to say. I became restless and even though the heaviness of my hands was gone, my whole body ached—it was as though it was twisting itself. I was beginning to believe the shaman. By the end of the week, I didn’t anymore. I knew what was wrong with me. In fact, it was so obvious I punched myself for it. You must’ve figured it out now through my description, too. The important thing is, I couldn’t accept myself for it. It is a sin. One of the greatest. So I hit myself and purposely aggravated my parents so that they’d do it too. I felt that I deserved that. What would people say if they knew? They would call me a witch, a brat, and burn me alive, I’m sure you know. My purity was slowly fading away.

I cared.

I suppose I changed after that. Mother said I did. She caught me in my room, completely undressed, talking to myself. I had not forgotten to lock, she just had an extra key. She became worried about what the shaman had told since I gave no excuse for my shameful behaviour. I know I’m not insane or possessed by anyone. I just missed you. I wanted to feel you, so I imagined you in my room. It is desire, is it not? I want you. Your flawless dark skin glowing against the lamp. You would come, take my hand and take me… away. Anywhere. Where you and I would be together, happy. We would make love, without having to worry about others. The starlight on your face would brighten up and you would never have to fear anybody. This world exists, you know. Believe me, it does. They’re yet to be discovered. And I want to do it with you.

But my love, I’m getting married next month. They have arranged a perfect man for me, and they want me to serve him, just like any other wife. They want me to worship him and bear him male children. They say it is the only solution to my ‘illness.’ And I have nothing to do now except pack all my belongings for the future and expect the worst. I don’t want to marry him. I desire you. Your skin. When I stand on the verandah, I long to see you through my silent tears, coming to save me. I need you because you’re my life now. You’re my memory, and I wish I was yours too. But they still keep asking me what I want. I know what I want. I wish you did too. I wish you thought about me, yearned for me the same way I did. How will you? I have no identity for you. And it is better this way. I’ve memorised you.

Yours Sincerely.


Aishani Biswas is a high school student from India. Her works have appeared at Tell Me Your Story, an online blog, “9 Stories by Under 18 Authors,” and selected for “TMYS Review September 2020.” Her works can be found at: Tell Me Your Story; Twist and Twain magazine. Email: aishanibiswasslg[at]gmail.com

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