"Enough is enough! I can't do this anymore!"
"But why, is it because of me and my ugly body?"
"No!!! I just can't bear you, Anthony. I just can't!"
A moment of eerie silence intensifies with a mixture of grief and anger. That was when Anthony, with his bleeding heart, bids goodbye to his love forever.
"But Ileana, I love you…I didn't mean it. Please understand!"
"No!!! I don't want to stay in this toxic relationship where you take my love for granted! I don't want it!"
"But, listen to me…"
"I don't want to listen to anything you have to say. You can enjoy your life with your beloved Erina. Goodbye, Anthony!"
"Is this the end, then?"
"Yes, this is the end… Goodbye!!!"
Anthony recalls this moment in anguish. He knows how this moment has made waves in his life. He knows about his wrongdoing and also knows how his karma got back at him. This becomes his daily routine, singing the blues over his unfaithful self while lamenting over his long lost love. No matter how eventful his life came out, he realizes his inability to nurture the love his dearest Ileana drenched him with. Nonetheless, he makes music as a source of liberation from that horrendous past.
He rhythmically nods his head in silence to the violin piece that he ears. He holds a Cuban cigar in his left hand and dresses up in a silk gown that hides his silvery torso hairs. The piece resonates through a small, old fashioned cassette player. With the soothing music, he finds himself lost in his visceral sentiments.
He adores Paganini and all his gilt-edged compositions. He hums in euphony with the magnificent sound that the 'devil's violinist' play in his beloved II Cannone.
Suddenly, a loud thud draws his attention away from the melody. It is quite bizarre to expect someone at the wee hours of the morning. He gazes at his antique wristwatch and notices the time to be precisely 5:55 am. At least he didn't barge into my room? He wonders and hails towards the wooden door. The thud comes to a rest when he opens the door and welcomes the visitor.
"Aren't you the stationery boy?" Anthony asks in a weary voice.
"Yes, sir. How are you doing?" the boy answers as he makes his way inside.
Anthony nods his head feebly as his eyes automatically glue to a festooned gift box that the boy brings with him. It is entirely wrapped in a gleaming flamboyant plastic-like paper that crumples up to form a thorn-less rose. The décor of the box is quite admirable. Before Anthony clears up the doubts about the box, the boy promptly hands it to him.
"This is for you, sir. A lady came up to our store just a while ago and told me to deliver it to you. "
"Did you happen to ask her good name?" asks Anthony with a frown on his face.
The boy shakes his head in disappointment and saunters out of the room. The box is as big as the size of his fist, so he assumes the gift to be something miniature. A ring? A small watch? He isn't quite sure about the present until he tears down the case and uncovers a written note in cursive. Within a split second, he recognizes the handwriting. Rivulet of tears rolls down his wrinkled skin as he begins to muse over his bittersweet memories, those reminiscences which he couldn't let slip from his conscience.
The life in the med school was quite hectic. From early morning classes to the languid evening wards, time was just like a prized possession. But even in those chaotic hours, love never missed its worth. It was the first time when Ileana saw Anthony. Decked up in a clean ironed white coat, with serpent-like equipment wrapped up around his blobby neck, his genuine smile was what she fell in love with. Anthony wasn't a well-built, attractive man. Anyone could recognize him from his characteristic large chubby cheeks and a potbelly. But for Ileana, his smile was enough to make her have butterflies in her stomach.
It was during the ward placement when she plucked up the courage to confess her love. Anthony was very diligent, and he was the one everyone would look for to clear their doubts. Ileana knew she couldn't gamble this opportunity.
"Can you teach me how to perform shifting dullness test, Anthony? Ileana asked timidly.
Her soothing, high-pitched voice was unmistakable. Anthony was taken aback by her hasty approach but couldn't deny her request. But little did he know at the time how soon he'd fall in love with her. As he was teaching her how to percuss the patient, Ileana handed a small piece of note into his hand, leisurely and whispered, "Read it secretly." Anthony was dumbfounded, seeing her act as a myriad of thoughts began engulfing him. Later that night while he was making his bed, he took out the note from his pocket where he had kept and unfolded it to fathom the missive. It read "I lobe you, Ant", which was penned down in cursive with a small diagram of brain drawn beneath it. And with time, Anthony didn't even realize how those beautiful pen strokes of Ileana had metamorphosed itself into a love philter.
"What is your greatest fear, Ant?" asked Ileana keenly.
Anthony was busy highlighting notes for the practical. Ileana poked him relentlessly on his left arm in disarray. Irked by her action, he gave a sarcastic smirk as a reply.
"Ant, please answer me, will you?"
Sluggishly closing the textbooks, Anthony stood up on his feet and signaled her to come with him. It was a chilly winter evening, and the façade was spruced up by the sublime scenery of the setting sun. Anthony and Ileana sat down on a rusty bench that was placed underneath the Jacaranda tree, which stood just a stone's throw away from the college gateway. As the sun took its final breath, Anthony finally put his thoughts into words.
"Do you know why people have fears?"
"What do you mean?" asked Ileana in bewilderment.
"From the day you were born to this day, have you ever thought of something tragic that would befall you? I guess the answer would be a simple NO. Just look at the sun, Ileana", said Anthony taking a big sigh.
Ileana stared at the setting sun as she began to feel a sense of tranquility plunge into her. Seeing her unperturbed, Anthony continued.
"Look how the sun is happily bidding goodbye to everyone. Do you know the reason why the sun is jubilant? It is because it has served its purpose for this day, and with the same excitement and joy, it will again rise tomorrow morning and share its glee. So, I am trying to say that fear is nothing but a void vessel inside one's conscience that will always try to break down a person's strength, confidence, and inner will. If you conquer your fears and try to fulfill your purpose like the sun does every dawn and dusk, you will realize in no time how your fears transfigured itself into your strengths. So, Ileana, I don't have any fears."
With these words, Anthony concluded his thoughts as Ileana relished the beautiful view of the sundown leaning her head on his flabby arm in contentment.
How have you been all these years? I know things have been a little edgy for a while now. Are you even taking your meds properly? I hope you are doing well. When you read this letter, I may or may not be in this world, but you don't have to panic at all. Like you used to say, fear is just a void, idle human emotion. And guess what, I don't even fear anything now.
During my bedridden days at the hospital, I was visited by my family and friends. And all I could see in their eyes was fear, the fear of losing me. Even when I realized how much my dear ones loved me, it didn't break me down. I didn't fear at all, and I understood the meaning of life and my purpose. And it all concluded to one thing; I lived a life showering unconditional love to you, the love that I would never regret giving, the love that I would want to preserve for a lifetime.
Love and fear don't go together, Ant. I had the chance to love you, and I showered you my love wholeheartedly. But our passion took a different direction. I still remember when you had planned how our 50th anniversary would be like, sipping champagne on a beach-side hotel somewhere distant enjoying the serene evening sea breeze. But look at how life became a roller-coaster for us.
This is not a farewell letter, Ant. This is a letter to thank you for teaching me always to overcome my fears and turn them into my strength, a letter you would rejoice reading, a letter from your dear one.
Anthony cannot control his emotion and rejoices in happiness, as Caprice No. 24 keeps resonating in the background.