The Gold Chain

By Meenakshi Kumar

Sajjan decided to take half day leave from office. Life had taken off for him like that on a highway; full of thrill and excitement, but suddenly he wanted to take a break; a break from rut of life.

He was having headache since morning. He swallowed a tablet of aspirin with a glass of water and left for home. While driving, his mind started calculating number of days after which he was taking a break for himself.  From past eight months’ it was Tanya`s pregnancy. Before that he had to take his wife Tanya for shopping and before that he had his new job assignment where he had to prove by performing better than his peers to get the promotion, and before that the extra shift to earn money for paying hostel fees ….it was endless! His professional and personal life had kept him involved neck deep in activities. He could comfortably line up all the activities that kept him busy, but doing so he had lost count on the number of days. He had even forgotten that for how many years he had been doing all that.

The pursuit of happiness and accumulating material gains had kept him fully occupied since his flight landed on his dreamland;  The United States of America. Young brains from across the globe came to the land of opportunities and turned their dreams to a reality.

It was Friday that day and the coming two days were weekend holidays; this time there were no appointments or meetings on those two days. He parked his car and rushed towards the door to open its lock. While doing this he took a moment to look around his surrounding in absolute peace, in broad day sunlight, and had his gaze fixed on the mailbox.  Rather than thinking about the days after which he would unload the mailbox, he rushed inside to get the key to open the mailbox.

He was smiling to himself; to expect a mail through the snail mail (postal mail) was foolishness in the age of computer revolution. Why would and should anyone resort to the postal mails when the same work can be easily done online. But, there were good number of envelopes in the mailbox, and then he realized that he was opening the mail after complete one year.

Before getting married to Tanya, he would check the mailbox daily; he impatiently waited for Tanya`s handmade cards and letters doused in sweet smelling fragrance of his most favorite perfumes. Tanya always chose postal mails over internet to send her messages to Sajjan; she always said ‘reading on a hard copy leaves more lasting impression, and then preserving those memories is also easy’.  Many a times Tanya herself came and dropped the envelopes for Sajjan.

He took out all the mails and put them on his study table. Tanya was still not back from her pre-natal maternity classes. She had completed eight months of pregnancy and moved on in ninth month. Both of them had their eyes waiting to see their little one. Sajjan`s headache had settled down but he still felt a bit uneasy. He called up Tanya to check whether everything was fine; he attributed the cause of his uneasiness as mere stress.

Let me prepare a hot cup of coffee and then I can check my mails while sipping through my coffee.  He brought all the letters and sat with his one leg folded on the sofa and other on the floor, trying to be fully relaxed. While taking sips from the coffee he tried sorting out the bunch of letters with his free hand. He sorted out a total of four letters carrying Indian stamps and embossing of Indian postal department. He could instantly recognize three letters which were in his mother`s handwriting.

There was one more letter from India, but that was in a different hand and Sajjan could not recognize the handwriting.  He had forgotten virtually everything connected to India.

Let me first read Amma`s letters; once Tanya is back we will call up Amma and speak to her.  To get his mother`s number was very difficult. Sajjan had decided to send her a mobile, but he thought he would carry one when he visits India, so that he could also teach her to operate the mobile. He arranged the letters date wise ascending order and started to read the letters one by one…

He tore open the first letter from his mother and started reading it. The first letter was written in a happy tone in which ‘Amma’ had expressed joy at Tanya`s pregnancy. Sajjan remembered that he had last spoken to his mother to convey her that Tanya was pregnant.  He remembered her words full of happiness and blessings for the baby in womb. Since then he had not called Amma.

Sajjan remembered how Amma had looked after him and his grandmother after death of Babujee, his father.   To bear the cost of his education and the expenses of grandmother`s medicines was not possible in the salary she got as a teacher in the middle school. She sold off all her jewellery one by one to bear the expenses of his studies in Delhi and then to send him abroad for higher studies.  He was cursing himself for becoming so much lost in his world that he forgot to even call up the person who was cause of his existence.

All her three letters had the same question…Sanju when will you visit India..?

The last letter from Amma had lot of pain in her words..

Sanju,

I don`t know for how long I will stay in this world. Before my final goodbye to this world I want to see you with my ‘bahu’ Tanya.

Amma.

After reading this letter, he was choked with emotions and uttered to himself.. ‘Amma..’ how could I forget you..! He started cursing his busy schedule and his super successful life in America which had made him forget the most important part of his life. He was wondering at himself as why even after realizing all the dreams he had dreamt of for his life he was still having a feeling of emptiness in him!!!!!!!!

The fourth letter from India in strangers handwriting was in his hand. He tore open the envelope and started to read the letter, and by the time the contents of the letter were in front of him his body started responding; within seconds he had already headed towards the telephone.

He called up his secretary to book him a ticket to India by the next available flight of any airline. He called up his friend and informed him that he was leaving for India.   He told them that he would keep a track of things at office through his laptop.

By that time Tanya was back from her classes. Sajjan had made all his preparations to leave for India the next day.

Tanya looked a bit perplexed at Sanju`s decision,’ What happened Sanju’ She asked.

Sajjan showed her the letter that his mother was ill, but Tanya was unable to buy his idea of leaving for India in a rush leaving his pregnant wife behind. She said, send her some money and ask her to get herself checked by a good doc,

Tanya will you please shut up, …said Sajjan.

You very well know that I am leaving you behind with enough support system to look after you in my absence. I have asked Pam and Harry, our closest friends, to come and stay with you. I have pinned the list of nursing home and your doc on the pinning board in big bold letters.  They will not even taken five minutes to reach you in case of an emergency and then i will be back after four days.

Tanya was very upset with Sanju; stamping her foot angrily she left for her bedroom speaking at the top of her lungs… Sanju staying in America has not changed you a bit. You still remain that typical Indian emotional fool.

Short story continued here