The letters were strewn on the teapoy. The more I pondered over them, the more they confounded me. They had shackled my movements. Yeah, they were strong enough to do that or to be precise, she was.
It was the first rain of the monsoon. Hence the petrichor had pervaded my senses. It seemed Benaulim Beach belonged to us. She broke the ice between us. “Hey, why do you call me Jugni? I feel weird.” “Well, the other day I was hearing this song from Cocktail. I kind of liked it.” “Do you even know its meaning?” “Umm. No.” She googled it. “It means the essence of life.” I thought the name was so apt for her.
The gap between my fingers were filled by hers. Despite the surrounding chill, there was certain warmth in her. We kept trotting barefooted along the shore. “Smarty, you need not prove that you are a stalwart. Can you please slow down a bit. Why this haste?” Yeah. I had observed she was phlegmatic of late. It was raining in perfect harmony. Suddenly she leaned against my chest and asked us to sit somewhere. Her heart beat was in perfect rhythm to the tapping of rain.
Jugni and Smarty. Pluviophiles. They sat in silence for a while watching the waves crashing. “Have you still kept my letters?” she interrogated. “Yeah. Of course. I am even going to keep them for the rest of my life.” “I think you should discard them since you have kept them so long.” “You are saying this. You?” I asked amazed. “You were the one who insisted on keeping those and now….” “Actually there is something I had been intending to tell you since last week. I just don’t know where to begin,” Jugni said.
Meanwhile the drizzle had changed to a heavy downpour. “Please don’t stay with me any more. I am nothing but a putrefied body.” “Why are you…?” She intervened. “Let me complete. I have acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I have stopped responding to treatments. You deserve something much better than this morbidity. Just burn those letters…obliterate my memories..Move ahead. Please.. For my sake. ” Then she broke down.
My world had crashed before my eyes. Her pensive eyes stared, expecting some response. I just hoped it to be chimerical. I wished someone would just wake me out of this trance. She was as adamant as me. I could no longer put up with this macabre incident.
I dropped Jugni at her place. Was she kidding? No. The horror of death was crystal clear in her eyes. The next morning my phone rang as early as 5. It was Nikki, her roomie. “Jugni is no more. She consumed ammonium chloride last night. She did not want you to suffer, pining for her till the last moment. Her last note read ‘please ask Smarty to char those letters’. Now you decide.”
I sat dumb on the chilly floor. Even in my nightmare I would not have fancied my world would topple in a period of 12 hours. She was gone. Forever.
I could not steer her mind. Her fresh lime smell was still vivid from last night. Her letters laid strewn on the teapoy. At the spur of moment, I dumped them in the garbage can and put a match to it. The smoke filled my room. Jugni filled my mind.