The Only Letter — Original Short Fiction

India, 1997

An old lady enters a very old post office. She clearly has developed difficulty walking as she limps forward and asks the only visible postman to direct her towards the postal boxes. As she fumbles the key in trying to open the rickety old box her eyes light up with excitement. The way her heart pounded almost worried her and so she deliberately stops to take 4–5 deep breaths. The nasty old box finally opens and she stretches to feel for paper inside.

There it was.
The only one letter left inside read like this…

“I’m sorry, it’s been a while but you know that I always want to write to you. Sometimes you know, time flows in a way that it’s hard to tell what life’s progress has been. How have you been? Everyone at home?

The other day I was thinking about how our own minds play tricks on us. Sometimes it feels nothing could possibly be better and while at other times you feel something is definitely missing. I got a chance to visit your city at last and I couldn’t stop thinking about our countless conversations about all the places that you knew of and kept telling me about. This place has the best Poha, this place has the best sweets in town, this store has the best sarees and the widest collection in the state and whatnot. I did try everything you had so meticulously detailed in terms of the overall sensory experience. And I wish we could have been together at that time. It used to take more than a week to deliver our letters to each other, remember? Everything has become so fast now suddenly. I’ve heard in large cities like Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta
it gets delivered within 2 days. Imagine talking to each other three times in a week! That would’ve been maddening. You’d never run out of things to say I am sure.

It’s been so long since we met. Yet the time just keeps passing without ever stopping for anything, does it? You must be wondering why am I babbling about things I feel instead of giving you some actual news or maybe not,
maybe this is exactly what you need to hear. All the major life decisions I have taken have only been taken after consulting you in some way. And I felt on this occasion it’s opportune for me to thank you for all that you’ve done for me. All that you’ve been for me. How I see things is that without you things would have been hard and the hurdles of life perhaps impossible to overcome. You sat hundreds of kilometers away and clapped at all my achievements and cried when something didn’t work out. Our paths didn’t have to match but they needed encouragement and you gave me that. So thank you. Sometimes
its weird that we have to do it this way, hidden from everyone. You know what I mean. But I’ve valued our relationship quite
a lot.

Perhaps only death will do us part.
I have a photograph of us smiling during college that I got developed and I am sending it over. Remember how much we laughed when a truck splashed water all over you and fell in the mud behind from the force of it? I had a physical reaction in my stomach that time because it hurt so much.

Hope you like it.

Your friend Jeet”

This was the last letter the old lady received.