He saw the picture. Saw it not with his eyes. He saw it with his eyes, heart, soul and with every tissue of his frame. A sense of nostalgia is all that is left in him. He fell onto the wooden chair, having his field of vision fixed onto that photograph. Letting out a sigh—not the sigh that will come out of relief, but that will come in utter hopelessness and regret—he set out to write a letter that he wanted to write for so long.
December 2, 2025.
As I sit here to write a letter for you not only it is that my hand that trembles, my lips, heart, soul, everything is trembling. Is it due to my age or due to the sense of missing you? I know not. I know that you loved me so much and I doubt that I reciprocated that.
Do you remember the first time we met? In the college canteen? I was so embarrassed that day. You were having a good time with your friends and I was seeing you continuously. I wouldn’t lie that I know that moment itself that you’re my life. No, honestly what I had is an attraction. An infatuation. A primordial lure of your beauty. And you too were aware that I kept staring at you, but you feigned as if you don’t know. That was cute indeed!
My friends nudged me to ask for a date. Due to their incessant pester—to which I’m grateful now—I decided to accost you. Due to remember the moment? I’ll still laugh thinking at that moment. That which happened 53 years ago. I was about to open my mouth when I tripped over and staggered awkwardly and fell over your friend. I still remember the pattern in which I fell on her and knocked her off her chair, breaking her hip bones! Haha. What a fine moment it was!
Awkwardly I got up and hastily let out an imbecile smile at your bevy. Oh they too smiled, but in a mocking sense. You too jeeringly laughed but stopped it the next second sensing my case. And I asked your name. While the whole food-court was eyeing me, you indexed to the radio and went away, escorted by your friends. I stood there perplexed. Utter humiliation. And I was dumb that I can’t understand what you indicated.
It is my friend who ‘decoded’ your message. Our life started with that song! It is Barry Manilow’s ‘Mandy.’ A fortnight after its release! 1974 hit. Mandy, what a sweet name. And then I never even imagined that Mandy Prescott will become Mandy Randolf.
Our date for one year—that is my most enjoyed moment. Both you and I are insouciant. We relied on our parents and all we did was to love. Because of my failed attention, I became a college dropout. That was the most pathetic situation I ever was in. My parents hated me and didn’t let me in. That is when my love you walked on your parents too and came with me. That small two roomed suburban house that we lived in for rent is still fresh in my memory. We used one as our kitchen and the other our bedroom. We married the very next day. You went to college. Since your parents can find you in college, realizing it, you too discontinued your education just for our sake. We lived anonymous with my meagre salary as a mechanic.
In 15 months, came our world’s beauty—our daughter, Lucy. I still remember that how you cried seeing our girl. Your worries were concerned at how to bring her up; and I promised you that I’ll make it all fine. So I did. And then our son, Matt. Ah! How pathetic a situation I was in when he was born! I went to Dallas and didn’t even know that he was born. It was such a sweet delight that I saw him after a fortnight of his birth. I crossed my heart that he will feel proud to have me as his father.
I stood by all my promises up until this second. I shed happy tears to see him get ready every morning to go to his office—a proud design engineer he was now—my pride! And every morning the phone call from my grandson—Lucy’s son! The medium-sized apartment flat that was now ours, stands as a huge proof for my being a good family man. All these accomplishments make me feel so proud.
I see the picture on the table opposite to my writing table. It is you and me. Cheeks attached to each other. That is one of the best moments we ever had. The evening of our son’s marriage. Some kind of strange contentment filled my heart. We two smiled as if we’d achieved the purpose of our birth. The best moments of one’s life gets frozen only on photographs. Not possible otherwise but I wish it should be. Everyone wants the time to stand still. And what shall be done? I’m just an ordinary man who’s life is just constrained by the mundane limitations of living.
I wish I could stop time still. I recount now the numerous occasions I failed to tell you that I love you. I feel bad of the many occasions I failed to acknowledge your love. Yet you always stayed by my side and with a smiling face like a fresh flower, you continued to shower your unconditional and pure love. I’m a failure. I loved you until our kids were born. After their birth, all I cared about is their future. What I always cared about is their well-being and now I realize and regret that I never acknowledged your love and reciprocated your love.
I was a good father undoubtedly and I doubt if I’m a good husband. I doubt if I failed to be a good husband. I doubt.
No, I was not a good husband. Not at all.
He wanted to write his name, but something stopped him. The remorse pinned him. Grabbing the paper in rather an awkward manner which was rendered to crumpled state inside his palm, he wore his cap; and coat, and started to tread. In ten minutes, he reached the spot.
He saw the stone slab which is engraved with the words:
w/o Jack Randolf.
Born: June 12, 1954. Died: November 14, 2025.
That’s the whole thing the stone is laden with. Reading that again, he felt his vision get blocked by tears, that came involuntarily. A slow gale knocked off his hat off his bald head; his right hand gave liberty to that crumpled entity. It tried to descend to the ground, but was prohibited by the wind that carried it off to some unknown destination. He stood there like a stone; and outside the graveyard, a bicycler whizzed past with the song “Mandy” getting played in his mobile phone.
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