24 || The Inevitable Gamble

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Impassive, Khushali stared at Sidharth, contemplating on how to explain about the condition that Sidharth had to clear before finally getting the package. The condition, was confusing for her as well, but she had to test Sidharth, to not have any regrets later.

"What's the condition, Khushali? How do you want me to testify that my intentions are good and I'm not lying to you?" asked Sidharth in a formal tone. The bliss that had dominated his being a while ago, vanished completely. His face was blank.

"This," she pointed toward something on the bed, just beside the wooden box. White, it was a paper envelope. Seeing it, Sidharth raised his brows. But Khushali could guess he knew what it was, which only made her wonder something.
Did apart from me, Sagar had let almost everyone else know what was going on?
Not a betrayal, but hurt. That what she felt because even today she didn't know what this package held, and how potent it was.

"You want me to open that envelope?" asked Sidharth, not actually perplexed. His voice sounded as if he was just a stride away from his Eureka moment. And maybe, the grand closure he had been awaiting for months now. His wife knew.

"Yes, and no." she affably answered. Not sparing a glance to Sidharth, who now seemed perplexed, she picked up the envelope. She opened its already broken seal and took out a letter from it, which seemed slightly old and withered as well.

Something on her face seemed to convey how hard it was for her to hold it in her hands. Perhaps, this one letter only brought some memories she had been trying to escape ever since last three years. Yet, they keep coming back to her.
It's the last time.... she assured herself. And with that, she took a deep breath and forwarded the letter to Sidharth. Without speaking a word, she gestured through her hands to him to read the letter. Perhaps, this was the right time she had been waiting for.

"Are you sure, you want me to read this letter? It's addressed to you, Khushali," mumbled Sidharth, slightly unsure. But Khushali was no fool to not guess the excitement in his voice on getting his hands on this letter. Yet, she knew he had suffered enough without even a mistake of his.
"And its also signed by Sagar. I think it's some pers―"

"Read it, the entire letter. If you want this package. It's your test. Solve the riddle in this letter, and this package is yours," said Khushali. Her voice sounded dead, but her eyes were even a more excruciating sight to look at. Red and moist. "If not, then I suppose you don't deserve this package."

"Fine." came Sidharth's response, a bit late. Certainly, he did contemplate whether she really meant what she had said. Surely, she did.

Khushali watched as he began to read the letter. She could―with no difficulty―read it along with him. After all, having read it uncountable times she knew each and every word of this letter. It had always been soothing for her, when dealing with Sagar's death ... a letter written by him. Why, she didn't know, and for what, she'd know in a while. She could guess that.

My Sweetest Khushali,

Did I ever tell you how your name reflects the happiness your mere presence fills me with? Like a captive, I could never make myself tear my eyes off of you, because I always feared that if for even a moment I looked away, you might disappear. You're that dream, that I never thought would fulfil, but it did. And I was afraid to lose you, I never wanted to experience such calamitous catastrophe. But I think I never realised how much cataclysmic it (can or) will be for you until ....

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