“From, 16-A, Kalkaji, Delhi-110019” was not just an address. It was similar to the transcending words written on the milestones covered by the crutches supporting a cripple on covering a thousand miles, it was appetite for the fasting clock which ticked in dearth of the absconding moon for years, it was involuntary curve of elation dawning on visage of a dispossessed farmer catching the first glimpse of an overcast, and it was musical enough for Malhar’s ears to make him dance in the crowded streets of Soormapur as if nobody is watching.
For Malhar, the day, when his father took him to Alimah’s home for the first time, was the most precious and memorable gift he ever received. Those memories have a special corner in his mind. He still remembers how even after refusing to accompany his father to deliver the letters on a boring Wednesday morning, his father forced him to come along and realizes that it was certainly almighty’s tactics. He remembers how sitting on the bicycle with his father, he agreed to go for the ride unknowing of what bliss he coming his way. After delivering ten odd letters they finally reached the place where he was meant to be. He remembers the hospitality of Alimah’s Abba who welcomed them inside and the taste of delicious kheer that her Ammi had prepared. It was her birthday. He remembers the first glimpse of her which made him believe that the angels from her mother’s bedtime stories were real and he remembers the first words which she spoke to him “Join us. Let us play”, and took him along to introduce him to her other friends Nishad and Marika. Unlike the bullying and insult by the street boys he faced, she made him realize he was one among them, an equal. He was totally spellbound by her innocent charm and amicable attitude. It was beginning of a new friendship, an all-new era for him. He started loving Soormapur like never before.
But, he was only a ten-year-old then. And like himself, his love too was too jejune. Little did he know that the story, in a real world, never remains the same and nothing is immortal. Six-years later, a storm of events left Malhar devastated. Alimah and her family were leaving Soormapur forever. On knowing this, he sprinted to the railway station bare-foot but he was too late. The train had already left Soormapur. With tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, he returned home to find his father lying on the floor, paralyzed and could breathe only for the next few days. Malhar had to leave his school and take up his father’s occupation for livelihood.
He started hating everything around him. Soormapur became a curse for him. He wished to escape from the place as soon as possible. But, again, his story took another turn one day when while emptying a letter box, he found a letter addressed to him. He jumped in exhilaration on reading the address. It was Alimah’s letter. Now, he had a reason to not leave Soormapur. She had finally written to him. His faith in his love was back.
The time, he missed the most, was back. Alimah was back in his life. He replied to her letter. Every day, excitedly he would search for her letter in the letterbox. He would wait for days for one reply and Alimah didn’t disappoint him this time. She wrote about how she misses the old time, the games they played and everything about Soormapur. She also wrote that she was going to become a doctor and about her studies. The talks continued for months. Malhar was on cloud number nine.
Her birthday was near and Malhar had already planned that now he would tell her how much he loves her, how the angel from his mother’s story, who makes a boy’s life beautiful, became a reality for him and how pure his affection was since it was from the same innocent heart of a ten-year-old. He finally wrote the letter and safely put it under his pillow. He was sleepless to send it to her. It was the very first thing he was going to do the next morning.
It was a bright morning on Malhar’s face. He merrily walked to the post office to find an unrecognizable yet familiar face. The boy was in hurry and handed Malhar a letter and asked him to deliver it as soon as possible, giving him certain instructions. He recalled the boy’s words “It is a matter of love. It is to my fiancée. Do take care.”
Malhar flipped the envelope and read the address.
He clutched the letter he wrote. The world around him shattered. All that he assumed was proved wrong. He realized that the real world comes with differences of highs and lows, downs and ups, rich and poor, Hindus and Muslims and that this line cannot be crossed. His faith was lost again. The angel from the story became a fiction forever.