Hoarded up, untouched from the time they were taped up and kept out of reach. Letters carefully arranged with dates, kept in their original envelopes. Not a word spilled. Containing childhoods, timelines of growing up, wrapped in oil-skin and tucked away in a suitcase with a number lock on an attic rack, above the ordinary, pushed just beyond the visible. From the postman’s bell to the smell of the lined, yellow writing paper, the smile that wouldn’t go away, the drafts unsent, the carefully worded final one, the special seal, the trip to the red letter box, the prayerful ceremony of dropping it in and the click of the unsaid being locked up was a ritual, diligently followed, an OCD that could brook no change.
Change came when I walked through days, roaming the city with its steep undulations, climbing steps and sprinting through traffic hurriedly before the signals changed, hoping there would be a sign somewhere left just for me that would tell me where I must go next and where you would be.
Those letters spilled on to pavements when I stood waiting at bus stops for buses whose boards were just black etchings. But still they took me in promising me more places and more faces, getting in, getting out, passing me on roads where I imagined you might have walked once. Narrow misses and lost chances were how it appeared to me. Unlucky turns with the dice, falls into cunning snake holes but I brushed off the dust and was on my feet again.The ladder was waiting somewhere, always a breath away. There was time I told myself, newer rituals to be made, the rain walk day, the two hours mid-day trudge, the fasting day walk, the silent kilometers -each, a celebration of a new hope. They made me happy. Till one day I could walk and talk of it no more. There were no more lanes, no more buses and no rain left in me. There was a silence, so terrific that it took me to the only place I had never searched. It spoke using the same words you did, it told me what to do.
The letters burned in the middle of the room. They swirled in yellow bits. I left the window open and perched on the sill looking at the valley, a silent drop below. The smoke wisps were your fingers through my hair strands, weaving their way out and rising above the tiny trees, choking me as they left. You weren’t meant to fall, only fly and you flew. Over the city, its roads, the honking signals, over gates, the house, the terrace and over a tiny speck of longing.
Sharjah/ United Arab Emirates