The Other Side of the Tunnel – The Heartbreak Chronicles

Touseef Hasan

Consistent blue in the sky today had just been overshadowed by clusters of jet-black clouds, however, with silver linings having a peek. As the birds hoped for salvation from this cataclysm of weather, they swiftly gave in to the comfort of their little ones, having to abandon their daily-meal quest. Indifferently looking on from behind the windows of my age-old, much-antiquated room, I saw a couple, supposedly married recently, dancing to the tunes of rain and somehow finding melody to the most chaotic of sprinkles. Or was it only I who found the sudden downpour melancholic?

I sighed.

My hand took no time to reach the cup of coffee that’s been beside me for half an hour. I realized that for the umpteenth time this week, I’d be drinking coffee that ran cold before I even noticed it.

“So you finally made it yourself today, huh?” I turned around and saw my mother in her striped pajamas, still rubbing her eyes, waking up typically late on a holiday morning. This stiffly disciplined, the wrinkled lady has been making me and my elder sister coffee for the last six years. Ever since dad died of Parkinson’s, she’s been handling it all herself. You name it – household chores, earning enough money for the bunch, cooking for us three – she’s been doing it every day, without any complaint whatsoever. I’m proud of my old woman, at times I think I should say it to her, shouldn’t I?

“Well? Should I go and put it in the oven?”

“Thank you, but I think today I’ll handle the coffee situation all by myself.” Mom looked at me with a sarcastic touch of suspicion and we both had a good little laugh. 

“It’s been a while,” I thought to myself.

I opened my stained bag pack and took out the letter again. The same letter I’ve already read thrice today. But this time I didn’t take it out to read it. I took it out to smell it. Yes, I know, it’s creepy but the letter still has the perfume Arya used to wear. But she always used to tell me that she didn’t even put on any perfume. Now I know by nature, everyone does have a fragrance to themselves but how could a smell be this charming? Yeah nice try, Arya.

Maybe if you had put this much effort being just a little more careful while crossing the road that night, I wouldn’t have had my coffee alone today. Maybe there even wouldn’t be any time for coffee, you know? Maybe for all we know we could’ve been that dancing couple in the rain, rocking to that Beatles vinyl original we bought together. Why did you pitch in to buy that if you wouldn’t even be around for long?

“Pardon my hideous handwriting…” I don’t think she knew the meaning of ‘hideous’ though. Indeed, she used to write so miraculously as if her pen used to bring out flowers instead of words.

Arya, as an individual, was as perfect as her handwriting itself, always uplifting and extremely jolly; needless to mention, ethical as well. I met her on a low-key singing competition in our neighborhood and from that day on, we’d been nothing but best friends. From going on morning walks before even roosters woke up, to enjoying concerts together, hand in hand, and even just walking through the streets at 11 o’clock at night, talking about absolutely the most random stuff ever, we just clicked perfectly. Sometimes you just happen to find things, don’t you? Even if you’re in the middle of the never-ending abyss?

Indeed, the two years I’ve spent with her gifted me memories enough to cherish for a lifetime. But there always remained a regret. A regret big enough to make me stare nonchalantly into the dark side of the moon every night.

I couldn’t tell her what she meant to me, that she was my guardian angel in times of total despair. Would everything be different if I could? Wouldn’t I be with her that night, crossing the busy street holding her hands? At least one of us would’ve been careful enough, no?

But there was no point in asking these questions anymore.

Nevertheless, just before all that catastrophe, Arya had given me the best piece of advice and the most precious of gifts I could ever receive from anyone, in the letter she wrote me on my last birthday. 

“Remember the tunnel we go through every time during our morning walks? On the far end of the tunnel, you’ll find something imperative. Something that’ll keep you safe, sound in every other tunnel you have to go through in your days ahead. No matter the situation, it’ll be always there for you, holding an umbrella in even the fiercest of storms and providing shade in the scorching heat. But just remember one single thing – you’ll have to own it. You’ll have to love it. Respect it. Promise me that.

Happy birthday once again!

Arya”

I finished reading the letter for the fourth time today, put it away and looked towards the opposite end of the room.

There it was, what I had found at the other side of the tunnel that day. It was nothing special itself, but the message it had encrypted in itself.

I looked at Arya’s mirror. I looked at myself and thought of what Arya had written before leaving for good.

Indeed, ever since I lost my father, and consequently Arya, I’ve always wondered who’d be on the other side of the tunnel. 

I know now.

“Oh look, your coffee’s cold again,” mom sighed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *