A Knock at the Heart
A Knock at the Heart
The doorbell rang. Aarav was at his desk, surfing the internet. He rose up to get his mask, wondering who it would be at the door on this sunny Sunday afternoon. He peeped through the keyhole and saw a man in a mailman's uniform, carrying a bunch of letters.
'Mailman?' he wondered. 'Maybe enquiring about someone’s address.'
He opened the door, keeping a safe distance from the man.
'Letter for you, sir,' the man said, drawing out a big blue envelop.
'Who is it addressed to?' Aarav asked, confused.
No one in his family would write a letter; they would just call, or text, in friends' case.
'Mr Aarav Sharma,’ the man replied. 'It has this address.'
'Who's it from?'
'It was dropped in the mailbox anonymously.'
'Okay,' Aarav said, and took the letter.
'Have a good day,' the man said.
'You too'. He closed the door.
After sanitizing his hands and the letter properly, he saw his address on the envelop in a bizarre handwriting. He ripped it open and leaned down on the divan, curious to read the letter.
It ran like this-
You don’t know me. I am 25 years old, unmarried and a male. My parents tested positive and are both at the hospital. They have very little hope and have been struggling to breathe their last breath since a week. Though I didn't have much, I used all the money, all the resources that I had, but with no effect. My parents are everything to me. I am what I am today all because of them. And now, when they are in a difficult situation, I am able to do nothing. Their only son has failed in his duty towards his parents. I am helpless. The only way I used to get to be with Aai and Baba was through the phone; and now, even their voice has become weaker. The last time I could talk to them was two days ago. I am not allowed to see them from a distance, let alone hold their hands and spend my time with them for the last time. I wrote to you because yours was the first name I found on the directory. Finding your address wasn't much trouble.
I don't want to live anymore. And I will make sure that I don't.
Aarav sat up straight and stared at the letter. A chill was spreading down his spine. Hands shaking badly, he read further-
You may think that I am a weak-willed person and a coward, but I just can’t live anymore with this guilt. Guilt, because I know that I am to blame to spread the virus to my parents. Only if I hadn't returned from Bangalore, things would've been different. Please don't see this as a suicide note; regard this as a friendly letter from a close one. Don't try to track me.
Aarav felt sick. He couldn’t believe what he had just read. Covered in sweat, he got up from the divan and sat at his desk, just to do something. He couldn’t think what to think. Staring aimlessly at his computer he could only imagine a distant man, his neck in a noose, whispering, 'Dear Aarav...'. A colourful advertisement caught his eye: " Donate to fight against COVID-19 and help save a life." Having made up his mind, he clicked on it.
'And that's what moved me to do what I've been doing from the past two years,' Aarav said.
'It is so touching. Have you ever tried to find out who that person was?' the interviewer asked.
'No. He wished for privacy, and I complied. Maybe who it was doesn't matter anymore. Maybe it doesn't matter whether the letter was real or just a hoax, whether the 25 years old man is - was real or a figment of someone's imagination. The letter was the voice, the suffering, of countless people. I saw it in news every day, but only through the letter did I really see it.'
'What's the best thing you feel after doing this noble work, what's your-umm-feel -good-factor?'
Aarav smiled. 'When I receive tons of gratitude letters everyday through email, not any- err- other ones... you know.'
Pre-recorded fake applause erupted from speakers. Public gatherings were not allowed.
A day after the interview, Aarav was cleaning his email. Almost all of the received ones started from 'Thank you...' except one. It caught his attention as it started with 'My parents are alive.....'
He clicked on it and read-
My parents are alive and so am I. Their hospital received a grant from you and the very little hope they had had worked. I can't thank you enough. I watched your interview. So, I want you to know that I am real, and so is the letter. Actually, you have seen me too. It's strange how few things we say come true sometimes. I told you to not see my letter as a suicide note and now you know that just because of you, it didn't become one. Do you remember that I said you to have a good day that day? I think you did have a good day then, it changed you. I'm so glad you didn't remember that there are no posts on Sundays. Now that you know me, I say again: Don't try to track me. I am still trying to revive from my shameful past, and once I move on and embrace it with pride, I will contact you. Looking forward to meeting you. Again.