This poignant short story by Siddhartha Gigoo explores the eccentricity of human nature and relationships.
Dear Professor A,
I have been writing you a letter for years now. But I would rather send you a blank page. You very well know why.
A lot has happened in these years. At the same time, nothing has happened, too.
I’m keen to hear more from you. Write to me about your academic pursuits, teaching experiences, and life inside and outside the university classroom. You must have won more awards for your teaching and research work. I’m sorry for not writing to you earlier. I know you understand the necessity of staying silent. I send you my warmest wishes.
M was my student at the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Delhi. It was the time when only those undergraduates who had no idea of what to do with their lives opted for Literature. It was the time when people wrote letters and sent postcards to one another. Everyone carried a pen, a notebook, and a book or two.
M possessed a spark, but none of us recognized it those days. There were days she didn’t turn up for the lectures. She wouldn’t come out of her hostel room. She wouldn’t be seen in the dining hall or the cafes outside the campus. None of us knew what she was up to. Not many cared. I was too caught up with my research work to ask or inquire.
Towards the end of the last semester, M vanished without a trace, without even bothering to show up for the convocation the following year. For years, her Master’s degree remained with the university administration in a cabinet labeled: Unclaimed Things. M didn’t care. Some time ago, the degree was yet again posted to the address mentioned in her record file. But once again it was sent back to the university from the post office of the town in the outskirts of Chennai. The university is still in the custody of the unclaimed degree. The clerk is still hopeful. After all, the cabinet contains only one degree now. All others have been accounted for. The solitary confinement of this degree will end soon, the registrar still says.