Shalini is my best friend. We’ve been together for years on end, school, uni and the same neighbouhood. People often mistake us for twins. We used to laugh at them but felt really cool inside.
When I was sick, Shalini nursed me day and night, pushing my mom away saying, ‘Auntiji leave it to me. I’ll take care of Salma. She’ll get better once I start looking after her. I’ve got the magic she needs.’
When Salma’s mother died and she couldn’t cope with her grieving father and the demands of her younger brothers, I pushed her aside and told her, ‘Salma you take it easy, leave it to my magical hands.’
Charmed by each other, we passed through the roller coaster rides of life in tranquility of our eternal friendship bonded by the glue of love.
Until one day Shalini told me she was going to visit her Aunt that summer. I was as excited as her for this foreign trip with a provisional husband-to-be on the horizon. Promises were made to keep in touch through out the trip so that things could be analysed, dissected, looked through various angles before reaching to a conclusion. That was our style anyway. We had done it all the time.
She went to her Aunt but she was more with me as we still chatted on the phone almost every day. Then there was few days gap, I knew that she was going to to meet the husband-to-be somewhere. I was waiting eagerly to hear all about it. A postcard arrived on our doorstep bringing with the latest news of Shalini.
She said that she was now engaged with the husband-to-be. Engaged! Oh how I abhore that word. Anyway, she said she liked the city and the people. It was as beautiful as we had imagined it to be. She said she loved the green grass there, they were greener somehow, loved the onions, they were bigger, loved the guy, who was better than she had imagined.
She said I would love it all too, if I was there.
I read the postcard a thousand times. Reread it. My heart clenched. It did things that hurt. I read the postcard again. I looked for something that wasn’t there. I was short of breath. I flung the window open to get some fresh air in my depraved lungs. That didn’t help. I was loosing the battle. I was loosing, full stop. Re read the postcard. Tore it up and let the little shards of paper cut through the air and mix in the dust.