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Sanjana Rajpal

Romance


4.3  

Sanjana Rajpal

Romance


Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar

Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar

6 mins 396 6 mins 396

The water had been dripping from the leaves for an hour, the sun had almost bid goodbye and it was time for the moon to light up the dull sky. The birds had returned to their home, and I with my half cup of tea was witnessing the whole scenario, the only difference was that yesterday the moon had appeared 10 minutes early. While noting the details, I started humming a song, even before the music player played it. 


“Abhi na jao chhod kar,

Ke dil abhi bhara nahi”


The teacup was left on the table, the birds had stopped chirping and I got up from my place and started moving towards my room without realizing it as if my brain had planned the functioning of my body every time I listened to this song. 


I stood in front of the grey steel almirah which was as old as my existence in her life. I steadily opened the door of the closet and my hands, as functioned, went ahead for the red and blue glass box. 


"Agar main ruk gayi abhi,

Toh jaa na paungi kabhi,

Yahi kahoge tum sada,

Ke dil abhi nahi bhara."


The song played on and my hands started to open the box. The smell of old pages, rusted Payal, and withered flowers brought back the memory of the sweet sound of Payal in the house when she kept running everywhere to find a new thing to love. The letters in the box had the smell of her scent and the flowers reeked of her existence.

I pulled the letters together and started to read them like it was my first time reading those. 


4th June 1949


Shantanu,


Drishti saw us sitting at the hostel ledge today, and then bribed me in completing her assignments and I happily agreed to it. I can do that to save a friend, Can't I? 


I know we roam together every day and have known each other for the past few years but today, it was different. There was a roller coaster of emotions running inside me as if something has changed, something for the right. 

You know I can't keep secrets from you and it is important for me to tell you this to you, so I chose to write a letter because according to your lame rules, what we talk about in the letter can't be discussed personally. 

Shantanu, from the moment you have pushed me to follow my passion and the way you stood by me all this while I was tired of explaining to the world my reason to choose writing, that was the period from where my feelings for you escalated. 


I don't know how you will react after reading this or how you feel, I just know that it was important telling you this. 

Shan, I love you, as a woman loves a man. 


Love,

Meera


As I finished reading the letter, a lump of emotions had filled my throat, moistening the eyes. 

That day, after reading her letter, I was dumbfounded. I had always loved her but feared to admit it. Then I sent her a letter with just the words "I love you too" written on it because rules are meant to be followed. 


10th January 1950


Shantanu, 

Yesterday, I saw you being very involved with Drishti. It has been almost a year since the college ended and I am happy with the bond three of us still share, but sometimes I am just scared that you might go far away from me.


I know I am a non-jealous girlfriend and we find different options for each other but I sometimes can't stop thinking about the day we won't be together. 


Shan, what if we don’t have enough time left? What if we don’t live together forever? Will you sing “Abhi na jao chod Kar, Ke Dil Abhi bhara nahi,” when we would be parting ways?


Okay, I am sorry for awakening your inner Madhubala, save the tears for your vidai. 

Shan, I think we should talk to our parents about getting married, I don’t want to waste a day living away from you. 


Love, 

Meera


The songs have now stopped playing, and I clearly hear the crickets stridulating and maybe, they can hear my sobs too. Even years later, Meera’s letters can bring out my inner Madhubala, as she would have said. 


It was easy convincing our parents for the marriage, and we got married on 30 January 1951. We still exchanged letters, explored new things like pottery, book clubs, dance class, visiting vineyards, Meera never let the spark between us die, 


“Shan, why do we still write letters?” she had asked on a moonlight night. 


“Because Meera, there are things we can't express, there are times we upset each other, there are moments we feel incomplete despite being together. The letters are for those times, to cry, crib, rant, and love. So, if you ever feel that l am incapable of you, write it down. It does not matter if you post it or not. 


“And what if our kids read those letters?”


“Where did the kids’ come from, we haven’t thought about it in 10 years.”


“Maybe it's time we think about it, we have to shop for it, and find a safe place to hide those letters.” she casually slipped this in the conversation. This was the second time in all these years, she took me by surprise. 


5th April 1963, Meera went into labor and made a weird wish. She asked in the delivery room. I went in and she had asked me to sing “Abhi na jao chod Kar, Ke Dil Abhi bhara nahi”. It felt absurd, we were going to bring a new life in the world and why would she want me to sing this song, but eventually I gave in to her wish. 


30 minutes later when I held our daughter in my arms, I had lost Meera. 


The letters were yet again soaked in tears when I heard the footsteps entering the room. 


“I heard the song playing again today, which letters did you read, baba?”


“Tu sab Jandi si? (you already know everything?) Go to the dining table, dinner is ready, I will join you in 2 minutes.” I told her. 


I was keeping the letters back in the box when I found an unfamiliar white paper peeping from the back of the cloth. I took it out to read it. 


30 September 1962


Shantanu, 


Last week during my regular health checkup, my doctor detected a coronary heart disease due to which my coronary arteries had been narrowed. The symptoms were not visible because the damage is internal, which made it easier to hide this from you. 

The doctor had said I have less time, so if I deliver this baby, I would die after that and if I abort, my life will be 10 months. So, with the baby or without it, I am going to die so why not bring a life into being. At least, there should be some benefit out of my death. 


Okay, I am sorry no jokes about it, but if you ever read this letter will you forgive me for hiding this from you, will you be able to love this child?

Shan, I never want you to like alone because I know the Madhubala inside you, so when I am not there, you will have a child with an uncanny resemblance like me, name her Meera, will you?


You might not know when to sing the song for me, but it will be the time I would be delivering the baby. You always wanted to know the favorite lines from the song, they were,

"Agar main ruk gayi abhi,

Toh jaa na paungi kabhi,

Yahi kahoge tum sada,

Ke dil abhi nahi bhara."


Love our daughter like you have loved me and help her find her Shan. 


You were right, some letters are not to be posted, they just have to be written. 


Love, 

Meera


As I sank in what I had just read, Meera asked: “Baba, why did you name me after Maa?” How should I tell her it was destined to be that way. 


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