Top Ad unit 728 × 100


After Forty Years

(Dedicated to O Henry): (Based On a True Story)

The old man was gasping for breath as he clutched his grandson’s hand. It was early hours of dawn, and he was feeling restless. It was the sharp uneasiness that an unfulfilled man feels when he sees his end is near.  The rest of the family were in deep slumber oblivious of the old man’s nearing end.
 “Read the letter and take it to the given address,” he said feebly. The light from his eyes were fading and he seemed to be drifting into another world.
 “And fulfill my love!” he muttered with the last of his strength, before he finally closed his eyes.
 The young boy had turned eighteen and he looked ruefully at his dead grandfather. “I will do everything,” he said, “so that your soul rests in peace!”
He laid his grandfather gently, and took the envelope that the old man had kept with him all the while. He looked at the contents; there was a note for him and a sealed letter. He read the note.
Dear sonny,
 The year was 1973 when I first asked her out. It was the month of April and a beautiful clear day, when we met at the Sanjay Gandhi Botanical and Zoological Garden. However, then it was just a botanical garden established four years earlier, and freshly opened to the public that year. But things didn’t turn out as expected, and we parted.  The first letter I wrote to her was on her birthday, 12th of December 1973. And every year, subsequently I wrote a letter on her birthday anonymously. For 40 years I have written to her and am old now- withered. My time is up, I think. If you are reading this, then be sure I am dead. I have given you the instructions to read it only if I am dead. For it will reveal to you an unfulfilled love story, that you may not be proud of. Deliver my love and letter to the lady on the 8th of April 2013 10:00 a.m. to the mentioned address.
The boy looked longingly at the sealed letter. He wondered what secret lay within. The memories of bygone days, something his grandad had carefully hidden in his breast. He would be a fool if he didn’t know what was in. But then his grandfather’s soul might not get peace.
On the appointed day and time and at the appointed place outside the Sanjay Gandhi Botanical and Zoological Garden, the boy waited patiently for the old lady to come.
He was however taken aback to see the girl he loved coming towards him. She studied in his school but he never had the courage to talk to her. He was a silent lover. He wondered what to say, when she came up.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. They exchanged nervous glances.
“Nothing. Just waiting for an old lady,” he said. “And why have you come?”
“I came to meet an old man. I think he is nowhere in sight!” she said.
The boy looked perplexed for a moment. Then he recovered and said, “So your grandma sent you with a letter?”
“Letter. No, many letters, and I think your grandad sent you,” she enquired.
They looked at each other and hesitated. Then the boy gave her the letter. The girl read the address and said, “My grandma died a few months ago. And she gave me these letters to deliver.”
“My grandad died last month!” he exclaimed. “Let’s read the letters.”
The boy took the letters from the girl.
“40 letters,” she said. “And there is a separate letter from grandma.” He unfolded her grandma’s letter and read –
Dear old man,
I felt myself fortunate that you considered me to go out with you. I waited for you through all these days. You could have come and carried me away. You could have expressed your love for me. But you were a real coward. And serves you right, that you didn’t deserve me for your cowardice, all your life. I recognized your letters by your handwriting and knew it was you who sent me those letters on my birthday. The first time my hope was renewed; but through all these years of patient waiting, I just came to a conclusion that you wouldn’t ever come. I trust we will meet in the after-life.  You made my life miserable with your messages. I wish you had the guts to tell that you had some emotion for me. I would have given my world to you. And as you said, we will meet again after 40 years, so here I am sending someone of my own blood to tell you that you were an idiot indeed to fear the society.

He read the letter and was grieved. He opened a letter from the stack of 40 letters, which he recognized to be in his grandad’s handwriting, with just one message – Happy Birthday to you, sweet girl. He opened the other letters, they contained the same message.
He turned to see what his grandad had written, the girl was reading.
Dear girl,
 I am sorry I didn’t have the courage to tell you I loved you the day we met outside the botanical garden. My mistake, and I admit it. It seems so fresh in my memory like it happened yesterday. I miss your sweetness. Your presence in my life gave me intense courage. But then, yet I fail to understand why I lacked that courage to express my feelings for you, and say I had emotions for you. I loved you and it was evident because it was me who called you to the botanical garden. Girls have terrible way for deducing what a guy wants to say, but in your case I think you were dumb. You were punctual and so was I. Ours would have been a great love story, but I was a coward. I couldn’t confess my love. I didn’t know what was in your heart. And today after 40 years, when I am on my death-bed, I am still in the same darkness that you left me! Maybe I should have told you, and whatever your reaction would be, it would hardly matter now. I was a fool and committed the gravest mistake of my life. It is better to do wrong in youth and have no regrets afterwards than to be right when people could excuse you for your age and inexperience, and regret on your death bed.
I wondered how the touch of your soft hands would be. I so badly wanted to keep my hands on yours. I wanted to feel your breath, feel the taste of your soft curvy lips. I so much wanted to kiss you. Only my cowardice held me back. And serves me right that I didn’t get the girl.
I wrote anonymously to you on each of your birthday. I didn’t have the courage to confess that it was me who sent you the letters. You appeared not only in my dreams but also in my hallucinations and flash-backs. I couldn’t hold back myself, and so today after 40 years of separation and with an ache to see your beautiful self, I write this letter so that my grandson delivers it to you.
I promised you 40 years ago that I would come if I were alive, but I think I can’t make it. So, I am sending my grandson.
I still see you fresh and beautiful in my mind, like the day we met outside the botanical garden. I bought two tickets so that we could go in. But in my nervousness when you asked me why I had called you there, I couldn’t think anything. And that was where someone had put that stupid pamphlet on the wall that read ‘40 years of love’. I muttered 40 years, and you couldn’t understand. So I said, we meet again after 40 years. I wish you too could have seen the pamphlet and understood what I meant to say. You should have understood I was nervous, because it was my first experience with a girl. But you left everything upon me.
I still have those two tickets with me. I have kept it as a memory. Maybe when we are old enough I thought I could take you. It has become a souvenir to me. I am dying and my letter will reach you after my death. I am sorry for those anonymous messages, but before dying I wanted to tell you that it was I who sent you those letters on your birthday, through all these 40 years.
There were the two tickets of 1973, enclosed in the letter which the girl held in her hand.
The boy looked into the eyes of the girl longingly and asked, “Shall we go in and fulfill their love story?”
After Forty Years Reviewed by Polymath on 8:20 pm Rating: 5

No comments:

All Rights Reserved by Anon Polymath © 2014 - 2015
Powered By Dear XYZ, Designed by DearXYZ

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.