Down The Memory Lane

A Journey of an Widow


6/2/20235 min read

Lately, I have been very busy. Covid-19 pandemic has recently begun to spread very rapidly and has compelled me to work from home. Both the house-maid and the cook have been relieved much earlier, leaving me juggling between several tasks at home. Rearing my unruly two-year-old son Runo, looking dutifully after my elderly bed-ridden mother-in-law, doing household chores, cooking meals, and managing all these on the top of my huge pile of leftover office work assignments has slowly started to take a toll on me. I feel claustrophobic and fatigued. More than three weeks of unread mails are lying unnoticed in my Gmail cupboard gathering dust and termites, speaking metaphorically.

Today however I have taken a leave of absence from my hectic pressing work schedule. I could finally spare some time to engage with the bulk of my unread mails. Both Jammie and Runa had been attended to and they are now fast asleep in their comfy beds under cozy fur quilts. I noticed the hour-hand of the clock has struck 2:00 in the afternoon. I open my MAC languidly, close off a few software update alerts which had popped up unsolicitedly and finally move on to address the elephant in the room. I login to my inbox and try wade through the vast thick sauce of unattended mails which has got deposited unwittingly like the memories of my various life experiences tucked away in a secluded corner of my subconscious consciousness .

I quickly realize i have got a very thin time-window for self-indulgence, till Runo wakes up from his utopian fairyland dreams and starts pestering me, playing mischiefs. I decide to skim rapidly through the pile – the demon i had fed with my procrastination. The first few items are from the bank with whom i bear a premium salary account, trying to sell me different credit card and Demat account schemes, hoping secretly for me to take a small bite of those forbidden fruits someday by chance. There are a couple of emails from Reedsy – my favorite online author service firm as well imploring me to critique some of the stories from other writers. While scrolling further down, i find quite a handful of mails from Amazon and Flipkart – the two giant e-commerce sites enticing me equally to buy out their latest tech products at the lowest possible market price. Half-an-hour has gone by. I have skimmed through most but also have lend myself to partly scan through a deserving few of the 30-odd emails i have read uptill now. I keep continuing further headlong ; skimming, and sorting them out with various labels as i deem fit.

In an instant, almost instinctively, I reverse up the scroll, to get a second look at some familiar term my wandering eyes had barely registered a moment ago among the melee of emails but then lost out to the subconscious will of my marching fingers. I notice a letter that makes me stop in my tracks. The subject which was very brief read “Roby – Reconnecting”. I open up the mail a bit hesitatingly, my mind starting to run wild in every direction like a forest fire. The email body consisted of only a couple of lines of a single string of indecipherable jumbled-up unusual combinations of characters, numbers, and a few odd emoticons and ancient Roman symbols. I start off on a running verbal monologue of my inner thoughts. Could it be my beloved husband – Robinson, declared MIA by the army during the calamitous Jagal Ghati war with China which took place 2 years ago. Ever since my man went missing, such letters have never ceased coming. Rather, they have increasingly got more believable and improved. I did take them seriously when i had my first tryst with these letters, running from pillar to post, knocking on every open door available of influential people until an investigation initiated suo-moto by the military tribunal finally laid rest to all my expectations and claims after the mailed letters turned out to be a hoax post examination, leaving me more shattered and broken than before. I remembered how once even a hand-written note had turned out to be a false positive post a thorough examination by a military hand-writing expert.

But i have never before received a letter with a cryptic content. I now remember how my beloved husband had taught me the art of cryptography during the early years of my marriage as if he had somehow an inkling about his possible disappearance or even abduction, seven years before. Memories rush in to flood my mind and i try desperately to connect the dots to get hold of any clue which could give some sense of the happenings but ultimately i hit a cul de sac. I then slowly try to recall the methods/rules of decryption which i was closely familiar with in the past and try eagerly implement it on the task before me. The letter revealed – “DoNT LOsE HOPe. MiSS YOu”.

A mixture of emotions pass right through me of sorrow, longingness, anger and finally culminating in a state of unnatural excitement. But i refrain myself from pinning much hope on yet another letter and taking chances with matters of my heart. Hopes which had got mercilessly crushed in the past had made my heart feeble. After all, someone again may be taking me for a ride all along with these cruel sadistic mischiefs. Every army personnel has attended those damn cryptography training camps and even otherwise also, the lessons aren’t much onerous to learn for anyone who makes up his mind.

I relapse again into my old fading memories whose comfort i had grown accustomed to, in the haunting absence of my soulmate. Absence makes a heart grow fonder. Not a single day has passed by when i don’t remember him with different emotions on different days. I remember the wonderful times we had spent with each other, weaving together beautiful, happy, and loving memories on the soft fabric of my building relationship. I remember how happy he was when Runo was born, almost crying joyously over the call when he first heard the news. I remembered how he got his leave approved soon after and came home to meet little Runo bringing along various fancy toys from all corners of the world. He had decorated Runo’s cradle with baby disco lights that he had imported from Japan through a friend of his. I recalled, how this joy didn’t last very long as duty soon knocked at the door with loud thumping sounds. I recollect how while the news channels relentlessly played a build-up to the skirmishes and the conflicts we had with China, the mighty dragon had already declared a full-fledged war on us, and to get all hands on deck, leaves granted earlier were revoked. Robinson who has always been as patriot as anyone else had no choice but to join his mates at the temporary barracks and bunkers set-up at Jagal Ghati. As a parting gift to me, he had promised to return to me soon, hoping international diplomacy will play a their role to help avoid this rampant endless rampage and destruction. But barely five days would have passed since he went, that i had received the news of his disappearance from a certain colonel speaking over the phone from the army headquarters situated at Bilto. Soon my fears were found true when the army office officially released the names of all the soldiers who were missing and unaccounted for during this gruesome war at Jagal Ghati. I recollected how in anticipation of his return, i had refused to mourn and have become gradually stiff by nature as days passed unto months and months unto years.

Remembering all these poignant and vivid memories had left i broken, sad, and bitter. As large silent tears started rolling down my cheeks and i try desperately to hold down to those sweet precious memories of which i had very little, suddenly i get alarmed by a loud metallic chime of my cordless doorbell ringing in the distant doorway. Some visitor has come unannounced.