“ Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet
The letter from Debbie arrived yesterday. Debbie alias Debosmita.
After moving to New York, three years back , pursuing her studies, Debbie at least kept one promise.
She kept on writing letters. Initially they were frequent. But for the last one year so, Debbie’s letters had become infrequent.
I was also very much eager to get letters from Debbie. At least initially. The pains and pangs of separation had bitten into me quite a bit. Never thought that Debbie would go away like that. But she had her reasons too. Very strong plausible reasons.
She had that novel opportunity of pursuing her dream – a doctoral research on Sylvia Plath. Secondly she had no one to look forward to at the time of happiness or sadness. Of course , I am there somewhere in her heart, but how can I be selfish like that to plead or implore her to stay back, for a relationship with no future?
‘ Look Sushant, ‘ Debbie told me the night before going away to United States of America.
Her voice had the tone of sadness and melancholy. She had been weeping.
‘ Here I got no one to care about me, after dad’s passing away and brother’s marriage, barring you. And with you I can never stay…’
‘ yes… I know…’
I said feebly.
‘ moreover, this opportunity…just think, can I ever miss that?’
I had retorted.
I stopped short of making any comment on that.
‘Yes…Sushant… had you been older than me or at least of my age…it could have been acceptable in our society…but marrying a boy five years younger than me…we will be ostracized…’
I had said.
‘ but don’t you worry…I will send you letters…as promised…’
She had assured me.
For three years since then Debbie and I had been somehow keeping in contact with each other through letters.
Occasionally she would send emails if there is an urgent news or information to give to me.
Very rarely she would call.
Letters were what we both agreed upon as the best media of communication.
For a person like me who has only one dream to follow and that is to follow literature all through my life, exchanging letters seemed most poetic.
Besides we had a dream which we both dreamt together.
We wished one day our love letters would be turned into a book or compilation like that of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Browning.
We also knew that in hand written letters only we could somehow bridge the distance betwixt us. Her smell would come to me. My hand writing would help her to feel my mood or mental state.
But then there are occasions when memories come opening all floodgates.
I would feel restless to get her near, to plant a gentle kiss on her nape, to caress her, to get the smell of her long brown tresses.
Probably she felt that too.
Once she sent me by courier a parcel.
Opening that I found a CD of a movie titled ‘ The Reader’ and a short note.
‘Watch it…and when would I grow old, you would feel me more…’
I watched the movie and wept copiously.
Then once I sent her my first published novella.
How much elated she became!
She ordered twenty books for her friends there.
Then one day she sent me a postcard from Provence.
‘So you are traveling ?’
I wrote back.
Few weeks later she sent pictures of different places of France.
The season of Fall had turned the maples red and orange. The sight of streets blanketed by leaves created a poetic frenzy.
I wrote her a poem.
‘Now that I do see
How you are faring
So far away from me,
Now that you under the cover
So cosy, of leaves and flower,
Perhaps you should send me
Out of your heart and memory’
Receiving that she sent me a picture of a sun rise over hills.
I did not understand then what she had meant.
But that picture postcard again evoked in me a poetic flow.
I wrote a poem ‘The sunrising’, which after reading Debbie thought to be somewhat akin to a metaphorical poem.
I argued it could be somewhat akin to a John Donne poem.
Metaphysical poetry was never liked by Debbie. Her favourite poets were Tagore, Wordsworth, Keats , Shelley.
Among the romantics, she only kept a distance from Coleridge.
While metaphysical poetry always excited me.
‘John Donne and Andrew Marvell, revolutionised poetry’
I would claim.
Debbie would just smile and say ‘You are just a kid still….where from would you get the poetic intuitions if you never read Tagore or Wordsworth? If you want to learn more about life and poetry read them.’
So I started reading them and what wealth that to me their poetry brought.
I got seeped into poetry because of reading Tagore and Wordsworth and Keats.
And that flow came to my writings.
Debbie appreciated that.
She sent me poetry books of Walt Whitman.
I sent her a copy of my second novella.
Letters of her became infrequent after that.
I wrote her four or five times a week.
She sent me no replies.
For six or seven months I got no news of her.
I sent emails. They stared blank at me from the out box of the mail folders.
I called twice.
The phone rang but no hand picked it up.
Gradually when I was accepting losing Debbie as my fate.
A letter came like a sparkle of light afloat on water.
I am extremely aggrieved that I could not send you letters. I was busy .
I read all your letters. They gave me the flowering power of love and hope.
They gave me the strength.
I am writing this with a wish. A wish that may appear strange to you( or may not as you are a poet and writer).
You know why the trees grow?
They grow to bear fruits and flowers of love.
Now that we have, for so many years , took care of our sapling of love and helped it to grow bit by bit, with all love of our hearts…
I wish you send me the seed to grow a tree within me.
Can you do that?
I was both taken aback and thrilled receiving such a request from Debbie.
Debosmita had always remained more composed and collected than me. She had remained all through very methodical.
But how could I turn down her.
So I did send the seed.
That too almost one year back.
Yesterday Debbie’s letter came with the quote of Rainer Maria Rilke.
You would be happy to know that a girl has been born. I am sending a picture of her . I have christened her as ‘Sharodiya’ for she bears the beauty of the autumnal blue sky and white floating cottony cloudlets of our dreams.
I read the letter at one go and looked at the picture of that pinkish face of a cuddly little thing.
How many times did I murmur ‘Sharodiya’ I did not know.
But I kept on muttering and kissing the picture.
How did I wish to go all the way to New York, just to have a glimpse of the girl.
Just to feel the sky of autumn right there at the city.
I thought of arranging for my passport and visa.
The amount of money kept in my savings account out of my monthly salary would be just enough for one way air ticket.
I thought I would give Debbie and Sharodiya a surprise!
A phone call came.
Debbie’s phone number it showed on my cell.
I picked it.
Someone called from a hospital with conspicuous american accent.
‘Mr Sushant Sengupta?’
‘Debosmita Banerjee has passed away a few minutes from now. Please arrange to arrive here as soon as possible’
‘But …but her letter…her letter… it came only yesterday…’
I just mumbled but soon realised that it did not matter to the caller at the other end.
I did not remember what happened to me then.
I probably slowly sat down on the floor.
I was feeling dizzy.
How Debbie turned into an angel !
How she left a Sharod blessing for me…