Subject: I Am Sorry
I have been thinking about you for a long time and today when I write to you I feel I should have done that long ago. I dream often of how we were 20 years ago. You and I walking to school together moving our long braided hair from side to side; buying fresh tamarind from street vendors in spite of our mothers’ warnings that they were not healthy.
You and I filling recipes sheets for our Home Science assignments but never cooking anything; eating fried, fluffed up balls of flour with spiced water at the stall outside our school and always complaining that our mothers didn’t let us wear short skirts or go to the movies alone.
When laugh lines appear they also bring courage to admit our mistakes and a yearning for the past. Mira, I finally have the courage and maturity to apologize to you.
I got your email id from your mother in India last month. I took the same trip to the local bazaar that our mothers took every Friday to look for deals. I was hoping I would see her there. She still misses her best friend, my mom, and was happy to see me but she could not relate to me anymore. Years of separation brings discomfort in a relationship or is it that she realizes how I . . . cheated you? She appeared to be very weak. I hope she is doing well.
How could I have tossed you out of my life? We pulled all- nighters together studying for our exams; we ate at each other’s houses. Your parents even helped my mother prepare for my wedding. I was busy dreaming about my future that time. Everything smelled sweet. Everyone else so unwanted. I came to know about your wedding from my mother. She insisted that I call you, my best friend to congratulate but I thought you would be too busy with the wedding preparations. I did not know if you still had my husband in your thoughts and I did not even want to know. I conveniently assumed you would be an island by yourself as I was at the time of my wedding. The time difference between US and India didn’t help either. That is what I told her and myself but, I think I did not call because I was I was enjoying my new relationship and did not want the guilt to come back and inconvenience it. How wrong I was! Your thoughts never left me.
Yesterday, it rained here. When the clouds moved and the sun shone again, I tried counting all the seven colors of the rainbow like you used to, but they were not as bright so I gave up.
Please tell me everything about your husband and children. Do send a picture of your family. I want to know how you look. Do you still wear your hair long? Have you started painting your nails or you still feel painted nails, especially toenails look devilish? Are you still a movie buff? I am sure you live close to the water. You always loved looking at the ocean.
I am sitting on the balcony of my beach front house. When the waves form and come toward me, I feel hopeful and imagine that you are also somewhere looking at the waves.
I have so many questions. I want to fill up all the blanks of the years lost between us.
p.s. I still play the 5-stone game. We were both so good at throwing all the little rocks in the air and catching them together. My 7 year old loves it.
I am glad to hear from you. We are in Malaysia as my mother must have told you and we are doing well.
Subject: Please write to me!
You have every right to be upset with me. You have always been the more mature of the two of us. Please forgive me for stealing Arjun from you knowing fully well that you admired him. You talked about him so often to me that I developed a liking for him as well. We were both teenagers and I was frivolous. When his proposal came for me, my family agreed and I was happy. At the time, I did not think that your interest in him was anything more than attraction. I did not think much of it when you avoided coming to our house in the month that Arjun and I were engaged. Your mother said that you were not well at the time of my wedding. A day after my marriage, I came to know why my best friend who lived only two streets away from me did not come to my wedding. Your cousin told me that you had feelings for Arjun. You must have confided in her in the one month that we did not communicate much with each other. Guilt engulfed me like a tidal wave but by then I had swum too far away to come back.
I am sure that your married life must be a happy one. You were always at peace with yourself. Mira, I miss your friendship, especially your clarity on situations and relationships. I am beginning to worry about my relationship with my husband. You are the only link I have now with my past and I want so much to know that you have forgiven me.
Please write more about yourself. Do you work or are you a stay at home mom? How many children do you have? What are their ages? I am very anxious to know. Please don’t take so long to reply.
I have two sons. They are seven and ten years old. They love their dad. I did too.
Subject: my life
I am sorry to hear about your relationship with your husband. You are right. My marriage is a happy one. I wish you good luck with everything.
Subject: Do you not like me to talk to you?
I am happy for you but please write more. Am I digging out painful memories? Am I being annoying? I don’t know which a bigger mistake was. Marrying somebody you liked or not keeping up with you.
Mira, I am tired and alone. Arjun is a good provider but makes sure I realize that every minute. He likes to be reported to every evening. My in-laws keep filling him against me whenever they visit us. He doesn’t even realize that it bothers me a lot.
Do you remember how we found our parents waiting outside your house for us when we came back at 1 in the night after a dance party? How we got the longest lecture of our lives! I will never forget that. The fact that I no longer go to any parties reminds me of that night all the time. My husband is a loner and wants me to be one too.
Mira, did you ever feel like talking to me in all these years?
Subject: I couldn’t have asked for more from life
I feel for you. I understand from your emails that your married life has proved to be difficult. I can not tell you what choices to make in life but I can tell you about mine.
Two years after my marriage both my kidneys failed. My mother’s kidney matched mine and she gladly gave me one of hers. Last year that failed too. Now I have to be on dialysis twice a day. Ten minutes ago, that is what I was doing. I only dream of having kids. My in-laws pray for me. They say that they are honored to help me. They think I am a warrior and getting wounded in the battle with life.
My husband helps me when he can. He misses not being able to play with the kids, kids that we would never have, but doesn’t complain. We make each other happy in simple ways like smiling at each other, picking up each other’s messes, handing over the remote without being asked, bringing a glass of water for each other during a television show. We don’t have big things to give to each other so we collect all the small ones and make a happy pile of them.
Anya, I haven’t heard from you for over two months now. Hope my health issues did not bother you too much. Hope you are okay!
About the author:
Prachi Jain is a member of Women Who Write, Inc., a New Jersey based organization for the past 7 years. She writes short stories and poems. Her work has been published in Basking Ridge Patch, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Goldfinch and has won an award on Six Sentences.