Kannan had met Rupa on his first day at the Seth’s restaurant. She had reminded him so much of Sheela. He also had not realized at that point that she was the only daughter of his boss, Diwakar Seth. In spite of his aversion towards the opposite gender, he couldn’t help liking this friendly and jovial girl. Perhaps it was because she was persistent with her kind words and good intentions with both him and all people around, spreading a ray of goodwill and happiness wherever she went. Their friendship had grown quickly, and though Kannan was a silent observer most of the time, it was understood they were dear to each other. The friendship blossomed into love between the two with the passing years. With Rupa in his life, years had simply flown by. Kannan however realizing the consequences of such a relationship never proposed to Rupa though she had openly declared her love for him. And it was she who let the cat out of the bag in front of the Seth on her eighteenth birthday. The Seth however did not object. He had sobered down a lot over the years. With his hotel and carpet business earning him huge profits, he was able to expand his business further. Soon he shut down most illegal rackets run by him but made sure that he gave employment to all the people, who had earlier worked under him, in his shops and hotels. A large part of his success he felt he owed to Kannan, for he had managed it well. The Seth also considered Kannan his lucky charm, for since the day he arrived his business had only flourished. So, it was no surprise that he and his wife approved their daughter’s choice without hesitation of any sorts.
Ali, who had eloped with one of the brothel girls and married her, could not believe his ears when he heard about his friend’s luck. There was much celebration in the chowki35 but Kannan displayed no emotion what so ever. He has not changed one bit, thought Ali, except for the faint smile that appeared on his face whenever he saw Rupa. Even Rupa was aware of it. She had seen him in his terrible moods like when he received O.G’s letters. O.G was the only one he had informed of his decision when he arrived in Bombay but he had urged him never to reveal his whereabouts to anyone at Ullas Villa. Over the years he even began to despise O.G, for his letters were monotonous, each resembling the previous one.
Rupa knew he was still bitter about his past for she remembered how he had not shed a single tear when he learnt of his grandmother’s demise from O.G’s letter. It had been a while now since Kannan received any letter from O.G. Either Kannan has to deal with the matter for once and for all or completely forget his past, thought Rupa.
Four weeks remaining for the wedding, Rupa had picked up an ideal wedding card and rushed to Kannan’s room to show it to him. The air in t the room was thick with cigarette smoke that she found herself struggling to breathe in it. He was in his off moods again thought Rupa, and she instantly realized why, for there on the floor lay a crumpled piece of inland. She picked up the letter and straightening it out, began to read
This is my first and perhaps only letter to you. O.G uncle passed away last month. It was he who informed me of your whereabouts before he passed away. Your father has gone away on a long pilgrimage to Kasi and other holy places, and I don’t think he is ever coming back. I also intend to go on a long pilgrimage soon but before that I wish to see you for one last time. I can understand if you don’t want to but I genuinely hope you will come.
‘So are you going?” asked Rupa.
‘Where?” asked Kannan disinterestedly
“To see your mother” replied Rupa.
“No” came the flat answer from Kannan.
“I think you should” said Rupa.
“No” reiterated Kannan.
“Try to understand” pleaded Rupa.
“What? That I should concede to the wishes of a woman who betrayed me. Never. She can go to hell for all I care” said Kannan angrily.
“But I want you to go not for your or my sake but for our sake. So that we can put it behind us for once and for all. Why do you pretend to have healed, when your wounds still bleed? Please Go, find out the truth. You deserve to know the truth and she has the duty to tell you” reasoned Rupa.
Kannan made no answer to the suggestion.
“I have told you what I felt. Now it’s up to you” said Rupa. Leaving the letter on his desk she stormed out slamming the door behind her.
Kannan watched from his window Rupa cross the street in a hurry. She seemed very upset for she did not turn to look back at his window, something she always did after crossing the street. He extinguished his unfinished cigarette and picked up the letter and read it again. He then folded it and put it in his pocket.
Picking up the telephone, he dialled a number and spoke into the receiver, “Ali, I need a ticket to Manad for tomorrow.”
“Where are you going?” asked Ali.
“Home” replied Kannan and put the receiver down.