Original story: My father is a renowned Marathi writer. For my all English followers (and my Marathi followers!) this story is my version of his Marathi story ‘thasa’. I have tried hard to maintain a delicate balance between being true to the original story and yet giving it my own touch! I hope you all like my first effort to bring my dad’s work in English. I would really appreciate your feedback!
When Meera came home this evening, she was completely exhausted and frustrated. Like every other evenings these days, she returned to her empty one bedroom apartment…of which she was hardly using the living room these days… As she stares blankly into the emptiness of the place, the events from the day flash in front of her eyes. Work has been very demanding these last few weeks. An impending project deadline is keeping everyone from the office on their toes. She would have finished her part in the morning itself but everything that could go wrong went wrong today. Even though she was in her office, trying hard to get things done, her mind was lingering somewhere else. She and her manager, Mr. Turner work closely on this project. He must have sensed that there was something different about her. In the afternoon he asked her to meet him in his office.
As she settled in his office, he said rather sternly,” You know how important this project is! I don’t expect this kind of behavior from you. You are one of the best employees I have. I know what you are capable of.” She restlessly moved in her chair. She was about to say something when he interrupted her with another question. “Is there any problem, Meera? You seem to be preoccupied these days!”
It was true, there was something that was keeping her little preoccupied these days! She was living all by herself in the US for the first time after marrying Kabir. Kabir, her husband had got a job in Raleigh, North Carolina few months ago. It was a great offer and being international students, they had decided that he will move wherever his job will take him. Since Meera was finishing her project in Philadelphia, it is planned that she will talk to her manager about her transfer to some place near Raleigh as soon as this project wraps off. Twice a month Kabir was travelling to Philly. The weekends used to go by so fast! He was spending most of the weekend on airport! Friday late afternoons he would go to the airport directly from his office only to return there on Sunday evenings. Saturday was the only day they had together.
Even though her manager was understanding, she couldn’t explain him these problems. She apologized to him profusely and ensured him that she will finish it first thing tomorrow morning.
Her train of thoughts comes to a halt with the sound of beeping microwave which is heating her now cold dinner. She had picked up her dinner on her way to home. She gets off from the sofa, takes a quick shower, slips into something comfortable. She makes a fresh batch of coffee as it is going to be a long night. She turns on the television to break the silence of the place while eating her dinner. The television voice soon turns into a white noise and she again drifts to another thought. Last week, Kabir had asked her to come to Raleigh for the long weekend. This was her first visit to ‘his’ place. She had asked him to send her pictures of the house several times to which he had said, “It’s a small regular studio apartment nothing else!” It was indeed a studio but a spacious for one person. It reminded her of their first apartment in the heart of the center city of Philadelphia when Meera came to US for the first time.
It had two big windows allowing lots of natural light inside the room. In one corner, there was a small kitchen with regular fridge, microwave and a gas stove. There were two bar stools next to the kitchen counter serving as dining area. In the kitchen, there were several grocery bags from Indian store still waiting to be unpacked! He must have visited Indian Store to buy few things for Meera’s visit. In other corner he had a table and a chair and just next to it a queen sized bed. On the table, there was a picture frame with a photo from their honeymoon, a small vase and Lord Ganesh Idol. He loves to read before going to bed. There were his favorite books on the night stand along with a night lamp. The apartment looked as if he had spent quite amount of time in cleaning before Meera had arrived.
It was first time in months that they had three complete days for themselves. Kabir looked relaxed and happy. Usually, he used to be tired and would fuss about small little things as Sunday arrived. That day he made Chai for her. In the evening he when she was about to prepare dinner he suggested that they should go out for dinner. “You eat outside almost every day! I will quickly make something.” Said Meera. She had to search for the rice and the other things in the kitchen cabinets. She made rice and Vegetable Kurma, a savory dish prepared with lots of vegetables and tomato gravy, Kabir’s favorite.
Usually, she always had trouble in sleeping at new places. That day, she immediately fell asleep as soon as she slipped into his arms under the comforter only to wake up next morning. The next morning, the place looked completely different to her. Now instead of his it was their place. Yesterday, she couldn’t find a single thing without asking him. Now, it felt as if she knew each and every corner of the room. In the afternoon she rearranged the furniture in the room. She had bought window curtains and wall decor for his room from Philadelphia. When they went outside that night she bought some fresh flowers to put in the vase on the table. From Sunday afternoon, she became sad just by the thought of leaving him and returning to Philly. She had always hated this part of saying goodbye. She used to put off her packing till the last minute. When she was coming to US after her marriage, her mom had to do all her packing because she was too sad to even think about it. This time it was Kabir who packed her bags.
Her phone chimes in her room with a text message from her colleague. That suddenly reminds her something. This morning when Kabir had called, he had asked if she had received his letter. Yes letter, hand written just like the old days! When Kabir was leaving for NC she had asked him specifically to write her letters. A little agitated by her request he had complained, “I will email you everyday Sweetheart but writing letters…! “It is more romantic that way!” she had insisted! She had her ways of romanticizing small–small things. She loved writing letters, customizing, sending them and then the part she enjoyed the most was the anticipation for the reply.
She realizes that she hasn’t picked her mail on her way to the apartment. It is late October and it is getting cold in Philly. She hurriedly grabs her winter coat, takes her keys from her purse and runs downstairs. Along with the usual junk/spam mail, there is a letter addressed to her from Kabir. To her surprise, it is a heavy envelope. Anxiously, she runs back upstairs. Finally, he has written a letter. His first one in reply to her three letters.
When she enters her apartment, her phone is ringing. It is her mom. Every day Meera used to call her parents. It seems that her mother has called her twice by the time she got back to her apartment. These days they were constantly worried about her because she is staying by herself in a new country. Meera being eager to read Kabir’s letter, for a second thinks to ignore her mom’s call. But after a brief moment of thought she decides to call her mom back. The call goes as usual. Meera asking her parents about their day and them asking her about hers! They ask about Kabir and express to see her and Kabir together soon. This makes her miss him again.
Finally, she fills her cup with freshly brewed coffee and returns to her bed and starts reading his letter ” My dear Meera, After dropping you off at the airport in the morning, I couldn’t gather courage to go back home. Instead I went to the office where I spent most of my day trying to avoid your thoughts in vain! Oh Meera, I miss you so much at this moment. I wish you were here with me. I wanted to hold and kiss you and never let you go! I had longed for these moments for the longest amount of time. Suddenly, I found myself grabbing a pen and paper and without knowing words started flowing effortlessly, and I started writing you this letter.”
“When I came home in the evening, I could hardly recognize my place. Frankly speaking, till now I was treating this place as a place to crash after the long day. But your touch has completely changed it. The flowers in the vase (by the way, I did cut the ends of the flowers and refreshed the water in the vase as you had asked me to! 🙂 ) and the curtains on the windows, which flow with every gentle breeze, remind me of you. You always had a way of seeing good in every thing. Now it has become my home, our home. Such is your presence in my life, comforting, enriching and fulfilling! ”
As she reads through the letter her eyes fill with tears…But this time those tears are calming her restless soul!