You don't like waking up so early but your flatmate is calling out to you.
"It's his letter! Ay do you hear me? It's his letter!" she is banging at the door. The cries die down but the thuds continue, as loud as before.
You wake up with a start from your slumber, all signs of it vaporizing in an instant. You push your feet into your slippers and rush for the door. As you open it with a careless swing, the momentum of your friend finds no resistance and along with her arm, she stumbles ahead and falls on you. But you're so excited you don't think about it and take it for a hug. You hug her and jiggle with fervor and shriek: "finally!". You don't realize that you are hugging her tighter than ever, and when you let go, she stumbles forward a few steps and regains control before smiling and shaking her head, thinking back to her first days when her excitement was different than it was now, and was of such nature as yours.
You make a run for the door, which is open and a man is standing there, wondering what such high pitched gleeful sounds are for. He looks at the envelope and finds that the writing isn't horrible, but quite presentable. So far he had felt an indifference toward it but now he was feeling that in his hand he holds something that is symbolic to a feeling he had lost in his youth and like he would find such feelings in his own son, he saw them lurking inside you as well, then and there. A smile spreads over his lips and like a side character in a romantic movie, his thin lips part and he chuckles approvingly, like he is glad that he is the one to have brought it to you, a messenger for you and him.
You stop short, a couple of steps away, as your eyes rove over the envelope in his hands, a hundred times already. One corner of it is stained with black, faded black, but otherwise, it looks untouched. You are glad that it has signs on it to show that it struggled and waited just like you both did initially, but then this letter never lost hope unlike you two had. It had been a month since he had sent it and you two were just thirty kilometers apart yet the post had not reached you within the first week as the service promised.
As you take light steps, small steps now, your mind is playing it all again in a quick flash: waiting the first week with excitement, giving up hope after the first, anger and frustration within him for this lag by the postal service. Most of it he kept to himself. You both forgot all about the letter in the third week or chose to ignore it. He had started posting new letters for you in the fourth week and prayed that they reach you quickly.
It had broken his heart, this carelessness by them, and you flash a glare at the man standing at the door, waiting patiently for you. He is startled by it and quickly turns nervous.
"That envelope has one of his photographs from his childhood! That's his first letter in life! His first letter to me! How dare you be so careless!" you want to blast at him, but you don't. He stands there, perturbed, but still patient. He understands the emotions of the young and he is fighting to hold himself down like you are fighting to hold yourself down.
You go to him and receive the envelope. It is springy with the freshness of the affection he has filled it with. He had told you what it'd have, and every time he had, his voice had trembled a little. He had told you that when he, an optimist had lost hope that it won't reach you by any chance. He just wanted you to know that he had tried.
As you remember it, a lump grows in your throat and moisture takes birth in your eyes. You walk back inside your room, which is empty, and patiently waiting for you to lay down and read.
You take your place on your bed and place the panda pillow on your lap. Very carefully you slit open the letter and pull out its contents. They spread into three constituents, one of which is a photograph, the other a thick stack of pages still clinging on to the warmth that had flowed through his hands when he had inked them, and the third, you suppose, would be the handprints.
You pick up the photograph and look at it. He is very small, aged around five or six, as he had told you. He is wearing a grey hood, laughing at someone away from the camera when he was clicked. That was his first vacation to a hill station and you guess he must be looking at his mother when he was clicked to bring out this picture.
You stare at it, at his face. By now, by the end of fifteen minutes, you have memorized the entire picture yet you don't put it down. You keep revising it like a lesson, as if it'd slip away out of your mind if you keep it down to pick up the other sheets and read the letter.
Some good minutes pass like this, a good amount which is your usual to cook and eat breakfast.
You don't keep it down, the photograph, but you hold it by one hand, and by the other hand you pick up the stack of three sheets, which contains the handprint. You unfold them and what you see incredibly delights your heart.
On the right side is a handprint of his right hand, all in red paint. On the left side is a poem. You recognize that poem, he had sent it to you once, and you had asked him to read it to you when both of you'd be together and close, lying next to each other, your head on his chest. That was your idea and your chest feels tender at the realization that even if not exactly how you had wanted it, you still would be doing something close to it. Inching slowly but persevering to get close to him.
You bring the sheet close to your eyes and see that it has the thin striations that must be the lines on his hand. You are craving to lay your hand on it, to touch him, to hold him, but you don't. You just bring your hands close to his and stop. You withdraw it and save it for the end.
You turn the sheet and there is another sheet, and it has another print, this time on the left by his other hand, the left one. This time it's blue.
Oh! You realize. The red and blue. He had gone crazy when he had seen you in the only two dresses he had seen on you so far, one a red and the other a blue.
On the right side of that blue handprint, the poem continues. It ends on the third page.
You don't put this down either. You pick up the thickest stack, and you start reading it. It was never anything but pleasure, an aching pleasure to read his words, yearning to be in the capacity to love you some more, show you why he calls you his woman. His words, something which you never held yourself back from praising him for.
Eight pages. That's how long it is. Eight pages of intense love that you both had given up hope on, hope that it'd reach you. It's your first letter, and he had once said that he is completely convinced that nothing would stop the letter from reaching you.
You hadn't met each other yet, despite four months of having spent time with each other, time invested in each other's lives loving each other. A day of acquaintance, a month of affection and an abrupt confession had changed it all.
You bring up the handprints and you lay them out flat on your bed. You put the photograph on top of the sheets and you look at it, as your hands edge close to his. But you stop.
You call him and before he can say anything, you tell him you love him. He is not caught by surprise, as he says the same for you, and it expands your chest and makes everything seem buoyant, dreamlike.
You don't tell him you have his letter now, not yet. He asks if you slept well, if you are smiling enough, and you giggle in a tremulous voice. You keep blowing him kisses, the sound of which he keeps telling you makes him feel alive. You keep doing this as your hands are about to close in on his hands. He had told you why he sent them to you, and it was because he wants to be with you, despite the distance, so he had sent you some of himself, to hold.
As you are barely away from his hands, which are a trifle larger than yours, you utter with a sob, "I love you," and hold him.
You close your eyes as a pair of tears roll down your cheeks and you're trembling all over. He doesn't ask this time if you're okay, but you trust him, trust him with all of yourself, and soon you hear a sniffle from his end.
Finally, you think to yourself. We meet for the first time, like this, and it happens. He had warned you he'd break down the first time when he would see you in person, just like you had said you would as well. That is how the mutually agreeable image had formed itself in your minds, of you both crying the first time.
And here you are. Both of you together. Crying together.