Title : I LOVE YOU , TOMATO
Sitting beside the half-knitted sweater, Radha fixed her eyes at the grey and dull clouds that roamed around freely across sky. Like those ‘sorrowful’ clouds, her life too had become woeful and miserable, especially after she parted away from Harish, her boyfriend. Everything was going on smooth in her life: she passed her exams with flying colours, got a job at HCL and met a guy like Harish, who made her life magical.
But, as they say, darkness lingers unseen. She got the shock of her life, when Harish rang her up one day and said those two fatal words: “It’s over”. She couldn’t even grasp anything out of it. ‘Was it my fault?’ she still kept thinking. ‘Have I done anything wrong?’ From that day onwards there was no call, no message and no replies from Harish. She even went to his house but found it locked. She got to know from Harish’s neighbour, Mr. Gupta that Harish and his family went to America because of some emergency.
She was busy floating amidst the sky of clouds made from her own thoughts when someone called from behind, “Radha Didi! (Sister) There’s a letter for you!”
She turned her eyes to the door and saw Gopu, who ran errands in her colony, holding a letter in his hand. She was puzzled. ‘A letter for me?’ she thought for a while and snatched away the letter from Gopu’s hand.
“Thanks! You may go now!” Radha gave Gopu a malicious smile. Gopu snorted and left the room. He was quite accustomed to Radha’s ‘get-lost’ type nature.
Radha unfolded the letter and her body froze. In the next few moments she experienced almost every kind of emotions present in the world at one go: happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, relief, curiosity, thrill etc. The letter was addressed to someone called “Miss Tomato”. There was only one person in the world who called her by that name. It was Harish. Harish told that it was the best suited name for her because her face turned as red as a tomato when she was angry or embarrassed.
Those old memories began to flash in her mind to her and she couldn’t help smiling. But her smile soon faded away as she returned to the reality where currently she was still holding the letter. She began to read it. It said:
Dear Miss Tomato
“Idiot”! Wasn’t that the first word you threw at me? Yes. I still remember all that. How can I forget such an ‘honorable’ description about me! Those days were truly worth to live in, and so are their memories: the regular secretive meeting near the lakeside, lying parents about a false birthday party, tip toeing away from relatives in a marriage party and settling in a lone corner just to call you; to hear your voice….
But it took me great trouble in keeping up with you. You knew my parents well, didn’t you? Both were gifted with the characteristic traits of Adolf Hitler, Queen Victoria and Sherlock Holmes combined together! They never allowed me to get out of their sight. Every time it was “Where are you going?”; “Why was your cell phone switched off?”; “Who were you talking to last night?”; “Why is your mobile phone’s bill so high?” blah blah blah……Disgusting? Yeah, true.
But who would dare cease a Romeo from meeting his Juliet?! I had to carry on, no matter what came my way. That was because I truly loved you. I couldn’t even spend one single moment without talking to you. Back on those days when I couldn’t call you or text you because of my parents’ uproar, I kept opening my Facebook account nearly a dozen times a minute just to see if you were online. I kept looking at your profile picture and read your status the whole day, just to console my stubborn heart which repeatedly demanded you. My faith was sealed at the mercy of something very small: the tiny green dot that appeared near your name, indicating your availability. My heart immediately did a somersault the moment I saw that tiny ‘lucky-for-me’ dot tinted in green. Those days were really amazing and fascinating too.
Do you remember the day when we first met?
It was the first day of college; the beginning of the semester. When in the morning I lazily strapped my bag around my shoulder and set out to begin my ‘not-interested’ type college life, I had no idea how the very first day of my college would change my life. I somehow managed to trudge on, without falling asleep, during the first hour lecture. That was indeed a great achievement for me but when the professor announced that he was quite impressed by the curiosity and response of our batch and would bestow us with another hour of extra class, I lost my patience.
‘Another hour?’ I thought. I was about to convert the desk into my new pillow and do the honour of resting my head there; in short I was about to fall asleep when I spotted a girl at my right, near the window, busy taking notes from a fellow mate. I kept gaping at the girl. ‘Beautiful!’ I almost said it aloud. I turned my eyes away the moment she looked in my direction and pretended to be paying grave attention to the professor. The rest of the class trudged on as I kept on admiring the girl and thinking of all possible ways to talk to her. My definition of ‘beautiful’ was a bit different from others. Sometimes my friends used to make fun of me when they get to know how ridiculous my taste was in terms of beauty and charm.
But that girl was indeed very beautiful. When it was time for the break, I trailed behind her stealthily to the canteen to ensure that she doesn’t prejudice me as one of the ‘temporary-flirting’ type of boyfriends. I brought a cola and turned around to find a table. But as I held my cola and rushed forward, I banged into a figure. It was her. I kept admiring her for a moment; her hairs were gently curled on her shoulders and some of them were twirling in front of her face. Her face was as red as ever, adding to her beauty. Her bright eyes looked straight into mine giving me an unnerving feeling.
As my train of thoughts halted and I stepped into reality, I came to realize what had happened. The cola in my hand was no Aristocratic one; it was a normal one and therefore obeyed the laws of motion. When I collided with her the can in my hand came to a halt but not its contains. The result was obvious. I saw a fresh and neat piece of stain gently embedded on her dress. I prepared myself for a long set of sound scolding and ear-splitting shriek as I was pretty sure that college girls were quite serious about their dresses and looks. But to my surprise, nothing like that happened! She said nothing except a five-lettered word, from which most of the love stories in the world begins: “Idiot”.
That girl was none other than you! I saw my chances drowning before my eyes, especially after that accident. But I had no idea about how that incident would bring us together. Do you remember how I had made you forgive me? Yes….I had to buy you a new dress and apologize for a month to get the petition of forgiveness signed by you! But, after that we grew quite close friends and then began our relationship. You are truly one of the most prized possessions. (Of course next to my stamp collection!)
Those days were truly too good to be true.
Well, I took the trouble of writing this letter as I want to apologize to you for the harsh situations you have to endure because of me. You must be wandering what type of guy I am: starting a letter without even greeting; no sense of respect, romance, drama…. nothing. No wonder I failed in English at school. Anyways, Radha, I am truly sorry for what I did. You must have faced so much trouble for me. When I was with you I couldn’t even bear the thought of separating from you. Those thoughts gave me nightmares. But you had to withstand all the loneliness and depression; that too alone.
You must also be reckoning your head off about why I abandoned you in the midst of the arduous journey we undertook. If I loved you so much; cared for you like hell; carved for you then why did I leave you? What happened to all those promises about being together for the lifetime? Were they fake? No, they weren’t. Well, I left you because someone else found me…Someone more powerful than you…Someone with unfathomable power who pounded our strong love to pieces. You will soon find out who that ‘someone’ is by the end. I tried my best to escape but couldn’t. Maybe I was too weak. Maybe I didn’t value our love. Maybe I didn’t believe in it. I can’t ask you for forgiveness but request you not to think ill about me. I was helpless.
It all started when I went to the doctor for a master-health check-up. My parents had to pester me for about a month to set my legs in the hospital. You do remember that I had ‘hospital-o-phobia’ (if that word exists in the universe!). Everything went on smooth until the day of my medical test results. The doctor ranged us up and told us to visit him immediately at his chamber. We hurried to the hospital immediately.
When we reached there, we saw the doctor striding in circles in his own chamber. As we entered, the doctor asked me to step out for a moment and admire the aquarium outside. I found that illogical and weird but I went out. Instead of the aquarium, I concealed myself near the door of the chamber from where I could hear them distinctly. But what came to my ears left me startled and panic-stricken. Never in my life had I expected what the doctor had said. All the feelings in my life ranging from happiness to helplessness, every incident of my life and my whole life which would require a volume equal to the entire world to be concealed were sealed by only two sentences from the doctor:
“Your son is suffering from cancer. He has barely two months to live.”
The world went blank outside me after hearing those words. But I knew that I had to be strong. So I pretended that I had heard nothing. At home too, I stopped myself several times from bursting into tears when I gaze at my parents’ anguished eyes. However, my parents didn’t give up. In the last two months of my life they took to any possible way to save; took me to the finest hospitals, provided me the best medicines and even consulted supernatural seers. But none worked. As a last resort they decided to take me to America. I knew that once I get there, there was no coming back for me as my life’s battery was already on the verge of exhaustion. It was because of that reason I wrote this letter and told my mother to deliver it to you after my death. I am really sorry I didn’t have the courage to tell you all these face to face. I would have not been able to watch you see me dying.
In my entire life I had been making fun of the movies where the hero escapes his dreadful death and returns to his girl friend. I always wished that this was a movie too and after I finish my role of dying I can come back to you; hug you tight to my heart and never let you go, look into your eyes and say ‘I love you’ a million times, spend all the rest of my life with you. But it is not possible now. Life is indeed a movie but a bit different one. Everything that happens here cannot be undone; no going back; until and unless you have a time machine hidden up your sleeves…Do you have anything like that? Just kidding! Well, it’s almost time to say good bye to you. I had written enough for a lifetime. Had my English teacher seen this letter, she would have been proud of me!
By the time you reach this part, I am probably on my way to Satan’s lair in hell, where he would devour me at one go and my flailing legs would do the best to escape. Maybe this would be a proper punishment for me. Hell should be my rightful place for betraying you; for leaving you alone in life. But don’t be disheartened. I am a past. Past must be subsided in order to move forward. There are many men in the world as handsome and dashing as me (What? Am I not handsome?). I hope you will find one who would love you more than I do and most importantly do not dump you alone in life. Maybe I will meet you someday again; probably in my next life…
Till then keep your cheeks as red as ever and live happily; that’s my final wish…I love you, Tomato. Bye.
Harish aka Potato
Tears began to stroll down Radha’s red cheeks and fell into the letter in her hands. It seemed that her tears were quenching the thirst of each and every alphabet in the letter, which beckoned her for forgiveness. Radha knew that it wasn’t Harish’s fault. But who would dare to debate with him. He was the one who always won at arguments. Radha folded the letter in her hands and clutched it tightly to her heart.
That letter was indeed the last thing which would remind her of him; the last memoir. She opened the cupboard and reached for a gold-tinted box, laced with silver linings: Harish’s first gift to her. As she opened the box she saw a bunch of other objects gifted to her by him. The objects included greetings cards, birthday cards, perfumes, bracelets, earrings and even false engagement rings! She began to recall that she always demanded an apologizing card or a sorry note from Harish after a quarrel. But Harish never gave her one. He was one with the mindset that apologizing makes a person look small.
Radha tried hard to change his point of view and even gave him long lectures but he never changed. And today her wish was fulfilled; her collection was complete. She did receive an apologizing letter from Harish. She finally managed to make that stubborn boy send an apologizing letter. On any other time she would have jumped around the house in happiness as she got what she wished for, but the situation was such that no feeling of joy came into her. She placed the letter inside the box and closed it.
Suddenly, something struck in her mind. She immediately shut the door of the cupboard and rushed out of the house through the front door, running all the way through the vestibule and upsetting the decorations. She began to pace towards the house which was situated five blocks away from her house, near the Shanti Nagar lane. It was Harish’s house. As the house was locked she couldn’t find any proper entrance into it, but suddenly it dawned on her that Harish used to keep his window open so that he could sneak out of his house at night and have ice-cream treat with her.
‘Maybe that window is still open.’ She thought and rushed towards the backyard of the house where she could spot a tiny, almost-rusted window. She approached the window and began to pull its lever to open it. After a few minutes of struggle the window threw opened. Leaving the window half-opened she jumped through the window into the house. Her footsteps reverberated in the entire deserted house, giving her an eerie feeling of being alone in the house.
But it didn’t bother her for long. She gently began to move towards a fully covered object in shape of a large cuboid that stood at one corner. She lifted away the plain-white coloured cloth that had embraced the cupboard in its lap and flung it away. The cloth gave way to a medium sized, old cupboard, which was well-furnished and eye-catching at one time. As she opened the cupboard a number of photographs and sheets flew out and fell at her feet, which nearly startled her. She began to pick up the photographs and the pages that had fallen down.
There were a number of clicks of her with Harish; their first secret night-ice-cream treat, the first day Harish made a ‘proper’ omelet, Radha’s birthday party, college’s prom night and many more. All those sweet memories came back flashing to her in an instant. She had to fight hard in order to stop her tears. Suddenly, a small box drew her attention. It was the same kind of box Harish had gifted her.
‘This must contain the stamp collection.’ She thought as she lifted the box. Throughout their relationship, Harish has never allowed Radha to view his stamp collection. Whenever Radha pestered him to show her his collection he would say just one thing: “This is my most prized possession. Let the right time come”. Radha wept as she opened the box. To her surprise, there were no stamps inside, instead there were a few loose sheets perched inside it. She began to investigate the sheets. Those were all sorry notes; not very much proper but it seemed that someone was actually practicing to write those.
‘Harish practiced to write sorry notes??’ she thought. ‘That means there is no stamp collection…This is his most prized possession? He actually practiced to write these notes; just to apologize to me? The iron hearted guy wrote all these?’
She fell to the ground and began to weep more profoundly. She was cursing herself for scolding Harish because of his rude and never-say-sorry type attitude. That Harish who claimed to be a strong, iron-willed guy from outside was equally soft-hearted and caring from inside. Radha picked up the notes and the photographs and departed from the house through the window, rubbing her tears. As she strode towards her house she gazed up at the sky. The clouds have faded and evening was arriving fast. The whole sky soon began to fill with the bright gleam of stars.
‘Harish must be watching me from there. I must keep his final wish alive. I must remain happy.’ Radha said to herself as she began to run towards her house with a slight grin on her face…
Credit to: shro