Nazia slowly walked into Petersfriedhof cemetery conscious of her surroundings and closely looking at everybody who walked past her. She was thinking about the last time she was here, 24 years ago to get her aunt buried. There were lesser people then and most of them brought their loved ones to be buried, the mood was more sombre and melancholic. Today, after all these years it was different. There were more excited tourists, sounds of cameras clicking, whining children and the once sombre place is now a tourist attraction.
Amidst all this weekend chaos she did what she loved doing every afternoon for the past few weeks. She opened the letter she got from Laura, couple of months ago and started reading.
10th October 1988
As I write this letter my cancer has engulfed most of my brain leaving me not more than 3 months to live. As I write this letter from my hospital bed I wanted you to know about my life after we met in Salzburg. I didn’t want to post this before because I wanted you to meet the person who inspired me to write this to you. The beautiful lady carrying this letter is my daughter Shirley and she knows everything. It was my last wish that after my death, she personally gives this letter to you.
We lost our son Sacha in Iraq after he joined the army against my wishes. My daughter Shirley is now a lawyer in Vienna. She is so beautiful and kind, she understood me the way Dario could never understand. She meets me on alternate weekends and I really look forward to seeing her. I can be myself when I am with her, she is strong willed, intelligent and loves me as if I am a part of her and not the other way around.
When she was fourteen I told her about our story, when we first met at the UN convention in Salzburg before that we just knew each other through letters and the occasional phone calls. After a lot of encouraging pester, Shirley encouraged me that I should come to Vienna to meet you and know if you felt the same.
She said that it was stupid of us not to leave our husbands if we had already confessed our love for each other, little did she know that it was not easy for us. We were two independent birds who were caged in a ritual called Marriage.
I knew I promised that I would never bring this up but I still can’t get our passionate kiss out of my mind. I became a stranger to myself and realised that I was never meant for a man. I had spent 10 years of my life with him and it was only that day that I found comfort, warmth and a life which felt complete. I have spent 15 years of my life dreaming and thought how it would be if we were together and what a dream it was.
I came to your house two years ago (thank god I was friends with your colleagues) and saw you playing with your children. You all were laughing and they adored you. I also saw what you were trying to hide from the world outside your house. I couldn’t help noticing the marks on your collar and arms. Your scarf did very little to hide them and I realised that you didn’t heed to my advice to get him out of your life. I was bound by the promise I made to you, else I would have put all my resources to put him behind bars for life. When I saw you there I realised that the biggest mistake of my life was not to break the promise I made. Thankfully he met with an accident, thankfully my immaculate planning of making it look like one worked. I hope you understand that I couldn’t see you being treated like that by your husband’s brother, taking advantage of his widow and I hope that one day you can forgive me.
You may treat this as my confession. I did it for you and I have no regrets.
A petite lady placed her hand on Naiza’s shoulders, sat down beside her and held her arms tightly. Two other tourists joined them on the bench but they didn’t care. She took Nazia’s hand and pressed her lips against the soft smooth skin of her palm.
Nazia circled her long blond hair around her ears and bent over to kiss her lips, free from gazing eyes and judgements. Later, both of them saw Shirley come near the tombstone with a smiling, yet melancholic face holding a bouquet of red roses.
Shirley affectionately rubbed her fingers across her mother’s and Nazia’s tombstone which read.
Laura (Died 1988)
Nazia (Died 1989)
Divided in Life and United in Death
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