I was a sitting duck as far as my extended family was concerned for my penchant for collecting all ‘rinky-dink’ and my love affair with all things antiquated and antediluvian. As I pulled out a tightly wedged, yellowed piece of paper from the ludicrously small storage crevice from the inner lid of the trunk that I was engaged in restoring; nothing least of all my fertile imagination prepared me for its almost negligible content and yet it carried an entire novel within its 5 words. In a clear tone of the unlettered, the letter read in Telugu;

Naa tho pattu kapuram chestava?

The trunk was forgotten as I delved into the life of its owner…it had changed many a hands but nothing prepared me for the answer. The lovely lass from one of the dog-eared, yellowed, black and white photo stared back and willed me to tell the tale. Widowed at 13, reduced to wearing whites, she spent most of her free time looking out the window and the only visible sign of life beyond the 4 walls of her home was the shop of a tailor.

Never having seen a man before, the hormones within her body zinging along, she weaved many a romantic tales with that man. She had in 5 words requested him to marry her. It neither reached him nor he was even aware of being of any romantic interest to anyone but unwittingly, he provided some colour to my great, grand aunt. She lived within the four walls until she died at 70, heartbreak and loneliness was not sufficient reason, I suppose.

-Chandrika R Krishnan

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