My love, my sun and my moon, my everything –
I don’t know whether this letter will ever reach you – indeed, I know not if I will even find a way to send it. I am, indeed, writing it as much for myself as for you; to put my feelings, which fly like a startled flock of sparrows, to order, and see if among them, I can find a little touch of something worth saying.
As I sit here, I can hear the rain on the roof above. It’s a comforting sound – ah, how many times have we lain together in bed, listening to it and feeling the cosier and more secure for it? But now I listen to it, and imagine the rain beating down on you as you stand in the mud of some filthy trench. Or perhaps you are in a tent, and the rain leaks through a rent in the canvas, dripping down on you as you try to sleep.
It has been ten months since you went away. Ten months ago, the fruit were heavy on the trees, and summer hung like a drowsy bumblebee on the air. Since then, autumn has brought the leaves down gold on the ground; following hard, the winter has frozen the dew on the grass, and now the rain turns the world to mud, and still you have not come back again.
Yes, they say it is all for the country that you fight, for the defence of home and hearth. And they said that you would be back before winter came. And yet, where are you, and where is the war going?
Forgive me if I am just an ignorant girl with no knowledge of the world. But I do not understand, my darling, how fighting a war across the sea is helping protect me as I sit here, wiping my eyes as I write this letter. We women, they say, are weak – but what more can we do, when you leave us behind, but shed bitter tears and clutch our breasts as the agony tears us apart?
They say the enemy are barbarians, savages who deserve to be destroyed. But, forgive me, I cannot understand this. Surely these savages, these barbarians, are in their own country, and are fighting for their own homes and hearths? Surely their own wives, sweethearts and children are as dear to them as I am to you? Aren’t those women my sisters, filled with the same agony that rends my soul?
With the passage of each day, I think about these things more and more.
Last night I dreamt that you were with me in our bed. I felt your kisses on my lips, and I felt you move inside me, tender and at the same time violent as you always were. I could feel the sweet warmth of your skin on mine, the murmurs and touches as when we made love. And then I dreamt that the bed had given way to mud, a sodden mass of mud and water in the rain. It was your grave in a foreign field, and I was there in it with you; I tried to wake you, and I could not.
I woke with tears in my eyes.
My love, I remember the first time I saw you. It was so long ago, on a dusty sunny afternoon when we were both children, and I had found a bumblebee trapped in a cobweb. It was tangled in the web, twisting desperately, and with every movement getting even more tangled. Do you remember how you had come when I had begun crying at the sight of that poor bee’s struggle to be free, and how you released it? It stung you as you removed the last strand of silk, and yet you merely laughed and said that was its way of thanking you.
I think – no, I know – that I fell in love with you at that very moment. The Boy Who Would Not Hurt A Bee.
And yet you now kill the enemy in his own land, and I wonder what the women of the enemy think of you.
I am told that you are a great warrior now, well known to both our side and theirs. I am told that your praises are sung when the army gathers after the battle, and that you are an inspiration to all. And it fills me with fear. Will you ever be able to save a bee again?
I have been hearing things of late; rumours that the war is not going well, of immense slaughter and terrible suffering. Were I religious, perhaps I could find solace in the pratings of the priest; but, for good or ill, I cannot believe it. All I have is my reason, and my love for you, which glows bright as a star in the darkness of the night.
I am afraid you will never return. I am afraid you will return a monster, with the blood of women and children on his hands and in his mind. And I do not know which I fear the more.
Stay well, my love, and come back to me; come back as you were. Be again the Boy Who Would Not Hurt A Bee.
Yours, forever and ever.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2014