Sajan Fernandez had become a mechanical being after his wife’s death six years ago, just eating to survive and sleeping because his body was too tired.Often he would stand on his balcony and look around but see nothing, he wanted to see nothing and he had no thoughts.
But in the last few days something new had happened, he wouldn’t call it a new beginning or anything. But now he ate for a reason-her letters.As the peon set down the tiffin boxes on every table, Sajan waited impatiently for his,he could hear the thump each dabba made on the tables as they were being set down , and he was becoming more and more restless. Finally his lunch was set on his table, and unable to contain himself he slowly unzipped the cover and took a whiff. This whiff of air came with the promise of her words and a relief loosened every tied up knot in his tensed body. Somewhere in his mind he thanked a God he forgot years ago,six years to be precise!
He had never seen her or heard her voice and these were not love letters,they were simple discussions on many random topics. There were no continuations or conclusions,they were just a few letters to another human being.
As the clock struck one, Sajan moved to his lonely table in the canteen,feeling not so lonely anymore equipped with a home cooked meal and her words in his hands. He took out each part of the tiffin slowly and tasted his favorite stuffed brinjal dish that he had mentioned in his last letter. As he licked his finger and searched between the rotis he found his treasure, the only redeeming part of his entire day. He unfolded the paper swiftly but carefully. As his eyes scanned the paper, his mind bounced with ideas what Ila might say today. And he read….”Hello, today morning husband went to office and Yashvi went to school, breakfast was the usual hurry and silent. Yashvi’s bus was….”
“Good afternoon sir, how are you sir? When can we start the training ?”,said the new trainee appointed to take Sajan’s place after his retirement. The abrupt disturbance to the happiest moment in the day would have lead any one to the point of madness, but Sajan had spent more than half a decade without speaking or feeling a thing. He simply said, “I am busy, come after some time”
“Sir when can I start my training ?”
” This is lunch time go and come after sometime”
“Sir my name is Aslam Sait .I am an orphan , I chose my name on my own, I learned and worked on my own,I just want to make a living here sir,I’ll learn this also on my own” And he walked off. A part of Sajan was happy that he was left alone to his lunch and letter, but the though of the happiness the letter gave him made him call Aslam back.
“Here come here.”
“Go to my desk, the files from Ahmedabad sector are in it. sort it out and send it to finance division”
His joy of finally being the part of a white-collar job was somewhere close to what Sajan felt with his letters.
“Thank you sir,thank you sir, I will come back now sir”
“no, no don’t come back , you go”
Hello, today morning husband went to office and Yashvi went to school, breakfast was in the usual hurry and silence. Yashvi’s bus was late as the roads were blocked with the accident. I turned on the radio and heard about it.During my brother’s time also everyone said this, so what u fail in exam, life is not decided there, you have to keep the courage to live on.What do you think that woman must have felt?She must have removed all her jewelry at night, what do you think her daughter would have asked as they climbed up? People are right you need courage to die too, how hard it must have been for her to climb up there and looked down and not fear, and jump!!
As Sajan finished his lunch and packed his tiffin, he thought of a reply.
Please don’t think like that. One morning as I was on my usual bus to office, crowded as ever. Suddenly I felt someone touch me, down there. Puzzled, astonished and taken aback, I looked around and I saw an old women staring at me. I turned my face away but with each jerk of the bus, i felt it again.I mustered all my courage and looked down, only to see a bag pushed against my leg.
Ila laughed as she read his reply, unkowingly they had swayed away from the topic of death and sadness.
Writer: As children we wrote over dotted letter to make our words look beautiful. This writing is an exercise, over the dotted lines of The movie “LunchBox” by Ritesh Batra.for my teacher to edit!