He smiled reading the old messages as his old bones creaked with every movement. He stoked the fireplace to ignite the embers into a greater frenzy, for the warmth that went through him reading these old messages wasn’t enough anymore for keeping the chill from affecting him. Plus losing her had made him a morose man. He lived on but the days were tides of nostalgia about the life they had shared. That first meeting, those letters and poems written in the throes of passion, the day he held her hand for the first time. Tremulous beginnings and amorous adventures. Twinkling eyes lost in reveling in each other. The stars and the universe but a backdrop and other people bit actors in the play of their life.

He could still remember her smiles as they aged together. How it evolved yet retained its honesty and warmth. The way she was bold even in the first meetings and shy even after eons of being together. The inherent contradictions, the little fights and differences of opinion all pushed him inexorably closer to her despite logic urging the stream of emotions to move in an opposite direction.

Their affection cemented by the troughs they faced together. Their joys multiplied by the blissful moments they shared. Their fights ending in tears of joy. They disrupted the stream of logic and defied the boundaries their situation tried to impose and in each other discovered the true strength of the human soul.

The day she died he had died inside but she had still insisted that he carry on the best he could and to that cruel promise too he had acquiesced. He had lived on as a shell of a man for decades now. Driven to despair by the parting and holding on to his rationality with videos, letters and memories of her.


What use was existence when the joy was gone he wondered. He had been a cynic and grappled with existential dilemmas once to the point of becoming seriously depressed. And then she had waltzed into his life. With her own story of travails and triumphs fluttering behind her like prayer flags on the mountains he so loved. She had displaced his priorities. Made him work on what foibles he had through gentle nudges. They had set each other free through the bond that they had forged. One link and one joy at a time, a bond that set their spirits on fire burning away whatever ghosts haunted them.

How accurately he recalled that first meeting. The day they said the three sacred words and really meant them. That first kiss. The words which over time seemed not enough to express how strongly they felt about each other. Their love bloomed like a timid and fragile rose on a desert landscape and yet hardy enough to survive the harsh winds and obstacles that life put in their path.

They built each other up when the world seemed intent on tearing them down. They could just spend hours in comfortable silence, 2 hearts beating as one and at peace for just having the other near. Dreams fulfilled gave them joy and dreams unfulfilled drove them on. Relentless yet calm amidst the storm of their ambitions because they kept each other grounded while urging each other on.


Ah well, the past was getting hazier and he just stared into the fire. What a cruel fate it was to have given him more than a glimpse of heaven and then keeping him chained in a declining physical shell while she had moved on to nothingness or whatever afterlife actually holds.

He gathered up all his strength and wiped away that cheeky tear which often rustled out unnoticed and unsolicited. The living had to get on with their routines however unwilling they may be. For a promise to her he would do anything. Even if it meant living when all he wanted to do was curl up into a ball and die.

He was terribly lonely. The mind can be a terribly lonely place at times. He smiled, he talked and he seemed normal and happy on the outside as he met his kids and friends, but there was a terrible sadness inside him. Gnawing him up and spitting him out each day to forcibly pretend that he was alive again.

He read the quote she had stuck on the refrigerator on the last days they had been together.

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”
― George Santayana

He lived on, or at least pretended to be alive for Her sake.


By – Aseem Mahajan

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