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– a short story

I sit there amidst them. They are strewn all around me. The letters. His letters. An inexpressible sadness fills my heart on seeing them, and yet there is a deep sense of joy as well. Bundle of contradictions. Isn’t that what he called me? I smile to myself remembering it.

Te iubesc” he had told me one day out of the blue, asking me to repeat after him. I had done so without a second thought and he had smiled triumphantly. Not knowing the reason for his smile, I had asked him what the words meant.

“You just told me that you love me” he replied exultantly.

I was silent. Yes, I loved him. It was just that I had not yet mustered enough courage to tell him so. I knew that the incorrigible smart-ass that he was, he already knew about this. He read me only too well.

I consoled myself, it was not as if I had declared my love to him, he had tricked me into repeating some words in a language I did not know. Strangely, I had felt no resentment. In fact I was unable to process my own secret thrill that seemed to dominate the apprehension I felt.

Perhaps my silence made him uncomfortable. He did not pursue the matter further and instead had gone on to talk of other things. The topic of love was studiously avoided by me as well. Yet at the back of my mind was only one thought, of how much I loved him and it was consuming me.

When it was time to leave, I asked him to tell me once again those words that he had made me say earlier. 

Te iubesc” he said looking at me thoughtfully.

I looked at him, and losing myself in the depths of his eyes, repeated after him, to him, for him, deliberately this time,

“Te iubesc…”

A slow smile of wonder and elation lit up his face and with infinite love in those dark eyes he whispered back,

“My bundle of contradictions!”

Bundle of contradictions.

Yes, that is what I am. And who knew it better than him, the one to whom I gave my heart under the most impossible and improbable conditions? Why oh why had I done that when I knew it could never be?

Today I sit among the letters, playful, teasing letters, so full of love, the ache of longing and the unbearable desire to be together. I had come here with a heavy heart, desperate and in doubt. What was I looking for? Was I hoping to find some balm to lessen this throbbing pain of loneliness I have been carrying for years? May be I wanted affirmation that he had indeed loved me, that it had not all been just my imagination. Did he love me still as much as he had? Confident of his love and yet looking for assurance. Bundle of contradictions.

‘How is my refuge this morning??’ I read the lines written in his neat handwriting, in one of the fluttering pages. ‘You are my need and you must know that by now.’

Does he still need me as much? How many times had I told him I was going away, always hoping with all my heart that he would never let me go. How many times had I told him to hold me tighter even if I pushed him away. Bundle of contradictions.

I close my eyes.

In my mind’s eye I see the ice-cream shop we frequented. The flavor of the strawberry ice cream we shared seems so real. The hours we spent at the corner tea stall sharing endless cups of tea. I can hear the songs he used to sing. To me. For me. When will I hear him sing again? I whisper to myself, 

Canta pentru mine iubitule…

Longing fills my heart. I miss him so much. Has he forgotten me? Would he come for me like he promised? Had I done the right thing surrendering my heart to him? But then is there right and wrong in love? Doesn’t love just happen, like ours had done. I force my mind back and look at the letters lying around me. ‘Scrisorile’ we had named them, a collection of our initial letters.

Starting from the first once again I go through each and every single word that he has written to me. I relive the first flush of excitement of finding each other, the delicious thrill in the discovering the dormant love expressed so subtly at first and then the open confessions. I can feel palpably through those words my eyes hungrily pore over, the inability to stay away from each other even for short periods of time, the extreme longing to be together growing day by day. I feel the presence of the insurmountable hurdles we faced and our acceptance of them. Finally, the exultation of two lost souls who have reached the end of their search engulfs me.

Draga mea, draga mea he writes. Dragostea mea.

Mi’a fost dor de tine…

I close my eyes again as I see the words. I feel his love wash over me. Where have my fears disappeared? I had come here with a heavy heart. I had been crying. I hadn’t heard from him in a long time. I had wondered whether he had forgotten me. But now, after bathing in the warmth of his words, I only feel his love enveloping me like a Cashmere shawl. Everything that had to be said was right here in these very letters that lay scattered all around me. What more did I want? There was nothing more to be said. There was only waiting to do. I gather a handful of the letters and holding them close to my heart. I bend and inhale their scent. They remind me achingly of him. Among these letters, hugging your memories close, I will wait for you.

Tu esti viata mea iubitule…

Mi’a fost tare dor de tine dragostea mea

Dragul meu…

Stiam ca o sa vi

Te astept iubitule…

© Shail Mohan 

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