Old and crumbled papers, a scarf, some candy wrappers lay strewn on the floor. More papers flew out as she rumbled through the chest looking for the collection of letters that she had so safely and affectionately saved along with other precious memorabilia- a photo of her college days with Raman, which still exuded warmth of the intense love they once shared, some love letters from Raman filled with such beautiful prose and poetry that would put even Shakespeare to shame. These were Saru’s only conciliation even during the most trying moments of loneliness and sorrow. However, today she was in no mood to reminisce about Raman, on the contrary she was in the most volcanic of spirits. It was the third time Raman had called up in a month, only to console and placate her for his inability to visit her even this year. His concern seemed too superficial and shameless. She was so angry that she had stormed into her room and opened the chest throwing everything out to find the box that contained the many letters that Raman had sent her over the years, spanning from the time he met her at college till present day. To Saru, they all seemed hollow and fake today and she wanted to destroy them at any cost.
Taking the box out, she opened it in the most dispassionate manner. On top of the stack of letters was a photo of her with Raman’s hands around her. It was a photo taken during their early courting days. She gazed down at her husband and wondered how a man could change so much.
They had first met during Saru’s sophomore year at college. He was an emerging figure in college politics and was in the middle of campaigning for the upcoming college elections. Raman’s skills at oratory and his magnetic charisma had already got him a large fan following among the girls in the college and Saru too found her spontaneously drawn towards him. As for Raman, he couldn’t help not notice the beautiful face in the crowd - it was not just the beauty of it, it was the expression it bore, tender yet strong, a face for the poet, the warrior, the perfect muse. And like any other love story, it didn’t take much time for them to fall in love. Their courtship continued even after college that Saru decided to go for a double M.A just so that she could be with Raman.
Drunken in their rebellious youth, they decided to cast aside all conventions and lead a free life together; marriage would only be an afterthought. Meanwhile they could travel around the world doing odd jobs, etc etc and so they dreamed on and on. So much that they forgot to think of a plan to make this very dream possible. A single jolt brought them back to their senses – Saru got pregnant. This did not leave them with much choice but to get married. for Raman did not have a good job or a rich background, and they would therefore have to be dependent on Saru’s family. Besides there was no way of Janakiamma accepting Saru into the house without a nuptial knot. Not that Janakiamma approved of Raman or his background or even the state of affairs, the only reason she did not kick Saru out was because Raman was a Nair.
Raman knew he had to cast aside his ego and beliefs for he had a responsibility towards his wife and child. In spite of his sorrow in having to leave his motherland to work in a foreign country, he left for Persia with the help of a relative. He began to toil day and night, doing two jobs to ensure that he had ample savings to send home after his daily expenses. His efforts did not go in waste for he managed to get himself into a good position within a few years. Initially he visited his family every two years but that soon changed to every 5 years to rarely ever. It’s not as if Raman had stopped loving his family or did not miss them, he just had found a new love - MONEY. He began to cut down his trips to save on the exorbitant flight fares and according to his calculations he was definitely making the future of his next two generations secure through this sacrifice.
Every once in a while he would contemplate of coming home but as if by an involuntary response his mind would automatically calculate the incurring expenses of such a trip and hence reconsider. He instead would console himself by looking at the pictures of his son and wife and assure himself that his sacrifice would lay a good foundation for a stable future for his son and perhaps allow him to live a life that Raman had always fantasized.
This year too he had made a fallacious attempt of pacifying his wife by promising to come down but the possibility of making an overtime earning at his office along with a vacation bonus had once again made him overcome the desire to meet his loved ones.
Her eyes began to cloud with the impending tears as the thorns of separation and frustration bore into her soul. She began to straighten out the photograph she had almost crumbled in her anger and she took a deep sigh as she gazed at the picture that was taken ten years ago- Saru and Raman with their small baby Kannan- they seemed so happy. With the progressing years and the absence of Raman, the people in the photos that followed were reduced to just Saru and Kannan. Though initially Kannan would always enquire about his father, gradually with the growing distance, he began to get so used to his father’s absence that Saru at times feared that her son would soon forget his father. Kannan became Saru’s sole source of happiness and she too ensured that Kannan never felt any shortcomings due to the absence of his father in their life. The past few days had been the toughest in her life and she felt guilty as she remembered how she had ignored her son totally. And more disturbing was the fact that he too had chosen to ignore her. Saru’s motherly instincts sensed something wrong and she knew she was partly at fault as she had failed to enquire about his well being. She felt herself redden with anger once again as she realized that her husband’s negligence towards her and his son had disturbed her so much that she for the first time in her life had forgotten her son in the mental turmoil. Saru knew she had to see her son immediately; it had been days since she had talked to him or even seen him properly.
She began to stuff all the letters and photos back into the box in a disorderly fashion. After shutting the chest, she kicked it under her bed. There was a sudden shrieking cry from the neighbouring room which made Saru jump to her feet and rush out into the hall towards the room.
She knew it was her son screaming but she did not know why, her heart began to race faster and faster………….oh, god let nothing be wrong she prayed as she ran towards her son’s room …………………………………………………………