When winter came again, she brought the woolens out. The letter was inside one of the deep pockets in the black cardigan. She found it when she was putting the woolens in the washing machine, to get rid of the dank, closet smell. Her face burned at the sight of the letter, a reflex reaction.
“Meet me in the park at 5 P.M.,” the letter had said. How many years had it been? Four winters, she realized.
Yet, time seemed not to have ticked a minute past since the day she left her home at 4.45 PM, wearing the flowered skirt that he so liked. Her marriage had been fixed, but not with the man she was meeting in the park.
The acid was sudden on her face, and she was unconscious before she could understand what had happened. She vaguely remembered his last words now, “You thought you’d marry a rich guy..” “…live a queen’s life while I pine and die for you?” “Bitch!” and then there was nothing.
Of course, the marriage was called off. Who would marry a girl half of whose face had been burned by acid? But worse were the allegations. Everyone started talking about how the daughter of the prestigious Chatterjees was having a love relationship when her marriage was already fixed. How she had blackened the faces of her illustrious ancestors. Why no one should marry their sons into the Chatterjee family again.
Her father, of course, would have none of what was going on. She was sent to her maternal uncle’s place in the country, where she was passed off as a distant relation, a banished princess.
The washing machine filled up with water. She stroked her face, like she had done so many times in the past four years and wondered if it was enough to drown her pain.