There she stood, draped in a saree gifted to her by her husband on his previous trip home. She was all decked out with ornaments that she rarely wore. She was not someone who liked dressing up, but that day, her happiness knew no bounds. Her beautiful smile hid the weariness on her face from a hard day’s work. “At last, I’m going to meet him”, she thought to herself as she stood waiting at the door.
She had chosen to stay in her homeland while her husband had left overseas for work. His business was flourishing and had expanded to multiple outlets in another country. They had lived away from each other for years on end, with only the annual visits and exchange of precious handwritten letters giving both of them the solace they yearned for so much.
Just a few days prior, she had received a letter from him; a single piece of paper that carried not just words, but love and longing that only people separated by distance could understand. It had been a long time since she had received a letter. And as she read it, she could not contain her happiness. In his squiggly handwriting, he had written,
Hope you are all doing well. I’m doing fine with God’s grace. Business is going really well. But I’ve been away from you and the kids for a long time. I’m also longing to be back home with you all. So I’ve decided to sell my overseas business and start one near our home. I’ll be staying with you forever. Will meet you all soon. ”
No matter how much you thrive on foreign soil, the longing for your family and motherland is eternal; and he was no different.
She had been waiting to hear these words for ages. She didn’t have to be worried sick waiting for his letters and trips anymore. He was going to be with her forever, and one can only imagine how ecstatic she was when she learned this. It’s always a festival when someone you love comes back home. So as she counted down the days, elated for his arrival, she decorated the house, trimmed the lawn, and made his favourite dishes.
So there she stood on the day of his arrival, leaning on the door, and staring expectantly at the gate. That’s when she heard a sound. It was the sound of a procession. She noticed a large number of people coming towards her house. She couldn’t understand what was happening. There was an ominous silence as she stared at the crowd, trying to make sense of what she was seeing.
As they came closer, she noticed them carrying something on their shoulders, which she soon realized was a lifeless body shrouded in white. It was her husband’s mayat (dead body). She was in complete disbelief, struggling to make head or tails of what she just witnessed. She was anticipating his warm embrace, but all she was met with was the lifeless body of the one she loved.
She was told later on that he passed away due to a sudden heart attack. His body had reached home before the letter carrying the news of his demise. A tremor of dread slid through her.
Soon, his funeral was conducted and he was buried with utmost reverence for he was loved by many. He was a strong but kind-hearted man and she was his strong and loving wife. And just like that, she was widowed.
Even though her husband’s death shattered her world, her kids kept her going. She raised beautiful kids who went on to help a lot of people in the future. Life was not easy for her, but one thing never failed to put a smile on her face.
That last letter.
The last letter before she reunited with her love.
The last letter before she witnessed the unexpected.
The last letter that she treasured until the last of her days.
There was total silence as my mother finished her narration. I got up and locked myself in a room, yet to dry my tears.
The letter mentioned in this article was sent by my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother. I am engulfed by emptiness as I write these words. This article is based on a real incident that still breaks our hearts. It hits me hard because I’ve been to the place where my great-grandmother stood. And I’ve heard about her strength and the way she cherished that last letter- the one that carried love and hope.
I pray that both of them are together in a better place now.