It’s my 21st Birthday. After all these years, this day feels a lot different. Something is missing. Or rather, someone. It’s strange how he was never there, yet he was. I’ve never met him. But I know him. I’ve never heard his voice. But his words keep echoing in my ears. I have never held his hand. But he always ushered me into the right path. But now he’s gone. He truly is gone. A tear trickles down my face as I pull the curtains.
It’s pouring outside. I walk to the side table and take the small wooden box off it. Sitting down on the bed, I open it. Small folded papers are stacked up inside. I take the first one in my hands. It’s dated 13 years ago. I don’t need to read it. I remember every single word of it.
I look out the glass window and instead see my reflection in it. Surprisingly, it’s a 8-year-old.
18th May, 2005
Hi…you can call me Dad.
I stopped and looked up at Mom. She had handed me the letter. It was my 8th birthday. She was in a hurry to leave for work. I asked her, ‘What’s this, Mom? You said my father is dead. How come he’s writing to me?’
She stopped, looked back and replied, ‘He left these letters for you. Every birthday you’ll get one.’ She smiled and dashed out.
I focused back on the letter.
Happy birthday. Your gift is waiting for you outside on the lawn.
I ran out. A small bike adorned with balloons stood in the center of our garden. It brought an instant smile to my face. I read the letter on.
Remember, someone can teach you to ride it. But nobody will pedal it for you. Don’t think if you fall over, there always will be someone to pick you up. And once you learn to balance, always be wary. You might fall off again…and again…and again. But every time you’ve to get up and pedal on no matter how much you’re hurting.
For the 8-year-old me, the literal meaning was all that made sense. Which also made learning to ride that bike easy. And as I walked on the path of life, I gradually learnt that this journey was no different as well.
I walk to the window. The rivulets are rolling down the glass. But they’re dying out before they can complete their journey. Can I not stop them from dying? Can I not stop death? Or at least push it far away?
I look down at the second letter held tightly in my hand.
To be continued…(next part in two hours…stay tuned)
Written by Chirasree Bose