The Memory Box

Dear Rohail,


I opened my big memory box today, the one that you were always teasing me about. The pink flowery patterned cloth is still draped over it. I remember you putting scent on it so it would ‘smell’ like flowers as well. The smell has evaporated now. The box still has the bell intact which you gave me specially, because you thought I suspected you of opening the box. Nobody opens it now, except me. Nobody pretends to unseal it to tease me. The bell remains soundless.


Can you recall the time when I emptied the box and you so lovingly put an enlarged picture of us in it? You wanted my memories to start with us, and end on us. Do you remember the red background you used for the picture, to symbolize your undying love for me? I was wearing the blue dress you bought me and you, a blue shirt. Remember the necklace you gave me: blue sapphires… I still have it. The red rose that I am holding in the picture was so hard to find. Remember how the house owner yelled at you for stealing the rose! The blue satin dress is still as soft as it was the first day I wore it. It lies above the picture of you and me.


The first love letter you gave me, delivers so much emotion.


……She makes no responses in this except to squeeze my arm or hit me slightly, and I can tell she likes it, however annoyed she pretends to be. Our life together has enabled me to see the clues, even if she does not know them her self…….


I cannot forget that you wrote it right in front of me, when I was pretending to be angry. You promised me you will never make fun of the fact that I was a foot shorter than you. But you did the same immediately when I smiled at you expectantly. You ran away thinking I would hit you but I didn’t. I knew you were playing with me, but it hit me hard that you had broken a promise. That was the first time.


Baby, do you remember the wedding invitation card from Sarah? You said I looked ravishing in the eastern wear sari. You took my pictures, three of them. You wanted me to put them in my memory box. But love, the memories after the pictures are much more sacred. You wanted to hug me and it soon turned into a fire. The zeal I had never felt before. I reminded you that it was my best friends’ wedding but your passionate caresses on my neck made me forfeit. You knew just the right places to heighten me. Rohail, who called you in the middle of the night and you, so urgently had to leave? Not even my pleas or my desperate kisses could stop you.


Love, this frame we bought together at the mall. You wanted to save it till the time we got married, and had kids. You said the frame was perfect for the family size of four. Can you forget the baby books? Don’t you think about them? Now they’re host just to my memories… You had such warmth, affection and charm, where did it all go?


Pinned to the corner of another photograph, I found your note, the first ever from the scented sheets you bought for me.


I spectacled at how someone so minute and vague, so unclear in her semblance, could so entirely rule the interest, the love, the reason, of a grown guy.


I guess I haven’t been successful in doing that, my love. You were all I ever wanted and I loved you so much for writing this.


Do you bring to mind how I had always wanted to perfect my baking skills? You brought me a recipe book and you wanted me to bake you cakes in different styles, especially on your birthday. Eight months of continuous practice made me an expert and after eight months, on your birthday, I was ready to surprise you. When I got back home, I read your note that you’ll be back in three hours. The timing was perfect. In three hours, I baked and got ready for the little surprise. I stayed up all night. Where were you? You came back home, 5 in the morning, drunk and tired. You didn’t want to talk and fell asleep immediately. You woke up to pretend that nothing happened. I followed your lead. Was I right on my decision? The recipe book lies flat in the memory box, untouched; the baking skills down the drain.


I still haven’t read the book you gave me, for I never got the time. Inscribed within the cover,


Lovely Emaan read the book; it’s really nice, read it whenever you’re not thinking about me. Read it and make sure you do because you really need to shift your attentions from me!


I still think of you dearly even though you left me so brutally. I thought you were teasing me like you always do. How was I to know that it was a clue to what you were about to do in almost ten months. You must’ve known then, that you were about to leave – forever. Were you planning even before that or had you just begun?


From the corner of the box, guess what I found. A cassette wrapped in a sock. I couldn’t stop myself from crying in delight when I saw these. I’ve missed how good listening to music could feel. The cassette, a memoir to the song we both loved and dedicated to each other. I bear in mind when I finally decided to put it in the box and I couldn’t find it, you grew more hysterical than me. You went on the extent of emptying the medication unit! We finally found it underneath the sofa in the lounge along with this one sock and decided to make it a memory of the occasion. It was your idea to wrap the cassette this way for protection. You said it was lucky. Rohail, you were so superstitious. I hated that but even then somehow found my self believing what ever you believed in.


That video recording of the time you so openly declared your love for me – I still have it. It was our third year as a couple. It was so hard to get your feelings out from you.


Alright! Well why I married you… that’s not a difficult one. Because I didn’t have any other option! Oh for Christ sake stop hitting me with the pillows!


Well, my darling, if you want to know the truth, you were honest, kind and hardworking, patient and polite, gentle and affectionate, motherly and loving, mature than any other girl I’d dated before. And when we were together, you listened, teased me playfully, and always reached for my hand in a way that made me feel like I was the only one in the world for you. You made me feel complete, everything I wasn’t. The other half, my better half. And spending time with you just seemed right. Love itself, I’ve come to the conclusion after meeting you, is more than the words mumbled before bedtime….


I had tears in me eyes when you said this – happy tears, and I have tears now, after five years – joyful tears of the past. That was the first time – and maybe even the last – which you actually spoke out your heart. At least that’s what I thought. Was I wrong Rohail?


I can’t take my eyes off the last picture that we had together, during a party. There is no sign of what you’re up to, my love. No symptom that you don’t love me anymore. No indication that you’re leaving next week; leaving things between us unexplained, unsolved. I remember how blessed I felt clinging on to you that night. Your arm around my waist was so reassuring. I was hugging you, one hand on your chest. I could feel your heart beating. A heart, you said, which belonged to me.


Time may lead me to no where and fate may break me to pieces but I’ll always be grateful to God that once in my life’s journey I met you. Love will stay with me like old roses on a breeze. It would lurk forever in ordinary things, in coat-hangers, in the tars on the roads, in colors, in the plates at a restaurant, in the absence of words and the emptiness of eyes. I wish I could give you what you are looking for, but I don’t know what it is- there’s a part of you that you keep closed, off from everyone including me. It’s as if I’m not the only one you’re with. Your mind is on someone else.


Maybe we didn’t belong together. After all, people who belong together stay together till the end no matter how many setbacks and they face how many disagreements they have. They may deal in fault and blame temporarily, but ultimately they have their differences worked out. Love leaks out of us, and conquers everything. That’s what good relations are all about.


I just want you to know that I hate you for what you did to me. I hate you for breaking my trust. I hate you for shattering me into pieces and making me feel incomplete. If this is what you wanted, then I was fine without you. Why did you ever hurt me like this- I still fail to understand. Was it me? Did I not be caring enough? Or did my affections lack somewhere? I guess I’ll never find the answers, and I hate you for never explaining it to me – for keeping me in the dark. I want to hate you so badly. I want to hate you desperately for making me fall in love with you five years ago. I hate you for not being able to create any more memories. For keeping my box full of the hurt I cannot displace. But most of all I hate you because I can not hate you. Not even close. Even after all this time, even after such ignorance from you.


I love you so deeply, so incredibly much.


Love, Emaan.

Arooj Fatima