Samantha picked the letter once more. Maybe the words had changed, her mind said to her heart. The letter contained just three words but their weight was slumping her shoulders and making her tired with each passing second.
‘I am done.’
Ashfaq had left in the morning before she woke up and all she got was this letter. No explanation, no reasoning, nothing. Just a letter with three words. Even a hollow statement of care would have been comforting to her but Ashfaq wasn’t like that. He spoke little and to the point.
‘Anything more is just flub,’ he often said.
Samantha looked at their fight yesterday. Was it that big of a deal? Was he overreacting? Had she crossed some invisible line?
“No, our love can’t be this weak that it can’t stand a single fight,” Samantha said to herself trying to make sense of the situation. Tears start to pour from her eyes.
Urooj came in the room and picked up Samantha. “What happened?” She asked Samantha. She looked at Urooj with glassy eyes.
“Ashfaq left me. How could he leave me, all alone?” Samantha said showing Urooj the letter with three words written on them.
Urooj sighed. She picked up Samantha and helped her sit on a chair.
“Can you believe it? Ashfaq left me because of one small fight.”
“What was the fight about?” Urooj asked Samantha.
“Silly thing. I got drunk last night and acted a bit crazy. He had told me to not drink too much but I still did it. He was mad last night. He took care of me the whole night and then left in the morning. He was so kind. How can he be so cruel? I know it’s my fault but he didn’t give me a chance.”
Urooj cradled Samantha who was crying uncontrollably now.
“Mom. Please calm down.”
“But the letter.”
“Forget about the letter.”
“You’re right. Ashfaq hasn’t taken his clothes and everything except for his phone and wallet were still in the house. In fact, it is technically his house. How can he go from his own house?” Samantha said with some comfort.
Urooj nodded, now, tears glistening her eyes as well.
“He will be back,” Samantha said confidently. Her wrinkled fingers clutching the letter in her hands.
Urooj helped her mom lie down in the bed. She couldn’t get the letter out of Samantha’s hand, as much she tried. Once Samantha dozed off, Urooj came out of the room.
“It’s her third attack in two days,” Urooj said to her brother James who had been in the other room, talking to the lawyer.
“The doctor said that these attacks would go away with time. We have to be patient,” James said hugging his sister.
“She’s not ready to leave the letter.”
“Frankly, I’m surprised that she still had that letter.”
“Yeah. When dad used to say that they kept everything, he wasn’t joking.”
“Yeah. I still wish she had not kept the letter. It takes her back to 35 years ago. And I tried telling her that dad came back after a couple of hours but she doesn’t hear or understand it at all.”
Urooj nodded. Their mom and dad had a fairytale love story. Except for that one day, early in their relationship, when their dad got too frustrated with their mom, the two never left each other’s side. For more than 35 years, they were together, until two days back when their dad passed away.
Urooj and James were sad but their mom was shattered. She was holding on to a meaningless letter, waiting for her boyfriend to come back. A boyfriend who came back and became a husband and a father. James and Urooj looked at their family picture from a few years ago. The four of them were smiling with a small caption –
Samantha, Ashfaq, James, Urooj – the perfect family.
“Miss you, Dad,” Urooj said.
“Miss you, Dad,” James said.