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The Burnt Painting

Jusmi is an English teacher. Obtained her Masters in English literature from Gauhati University India shares an immense love for writing.


Sonia picked up the morning newspaper sipping black coffee in her favourite ivory mug. A sadness dawned over her face. The newspaper reported a plane crash that had occurred the previous afternoon. The death toll was reported to be more than one hundred fifty. Her heart pained thinking of people who had lost their near and dear ones.

Even after five years, she is not able to deal with the pain of losing her first love Iran. They had met in college during a student exchange programme. They developed a fast friendship over their interest in writing poetry. Both had participated in a Poetry Competition and were neck to neck but finally, Iran was declared to be the undisputed winner. Since then she started developing feelings for him. He too was struck by the “Cupid’s arrow” which he confessed later on. But, within two years of meeting each other, they understood only being in love will not serve any purpose. They need to think about their future too. Therefore both of them started working very hard to pave the way for a better future. Finally, after working day in and out, they managed to buy a small apartment in a posh area where she was currently residing.

But, things took a turn when Iran got a fellowship to Prague and he decided to go there leaving Sonia all alone. Initially, everything seemed fine. But, slowly with time his feelings for her started changing. He hardly used to talk to her for a second. He was always in a hurry. She never asked him any questions or ever complained. She was dealing with all this on her own. After, two years Iran suddenly one fine day stopped all contacts with her. He even changed his phone numbers as well as email ids. Now she was left all alone and heartbroken. Only the letters which he wrote to her was her only company.

When he started writing letters for the first time Sonia had said, “ In this modern age when you can easily send an email or text why write letters ?” Iran had replied, “ Letter writing is an art. We should keep it in practice. It’s like writing poetry. One fine day if I am not there you can see them and feel me which definitely you will never get in a text as well as a mail”. How true it was now those letters were her only joy and means of living. On rainy nights when she missed him she held those letters close to her bosom and cried her heart out.

Days turned into months and months turned into years still there was no sight of Iran. She accepted the fact that this was it and they weren’t destined to be with each other. She only hoped and wished that he may get the best of everything in his life.

Life was going on as usual. On a Friday evening, she received a call from her friend Suzi asking her if she would be interested in attending an art exhibition on Sunday evening. Sonia wanted to refuse but Suzi persuaded her saying, “It’s not an ordinary art exhibition it’s a show presented by one of the survivors of the recent plane crash. We are going there just to motivate that young painter”. Hearing this Sonia couldn’t say No and therefore she had to agree.

On Sunday evening dressed in a pink Kurti and blue jeans, she came out and met Suzi outside a café. It’s almost been a month that she had not gone anywhere. It’s only been her office and house. She felt a little better. The evening breeze lifted her soft curls and banged it against her neck.

It was 6’o clock in the evening when they reached the venue. They both went inside the hall and started going through all the paintings. Suddenly Suzi screamed in awe, “ Sonia look there, please. Isn’t that you in that painting over there”. She turned her head in that direction as stood there rooted to her feet. Yes, it was her portrait without any doubt. The painting was of a young girl playing with her hair. She also had a small tattoo of a butterfly in her wrist. Both of them got totally confused as to how and why her painting was put up there. They looked here and there and towards the entrance, they could see the young painter sitting on a wheelchair and speaking with a few people. Sonia ran to him and waited patiently for her turn. Those ten minutes of waiting looked like a hundred years for her. Finally, when he looked towards her she said, “ You have a fabulous collection of art here. But, if you don’t mind can I ask you something?” The man looked at her closely and said, “ Wait a minute. Ma’am is that your portrait in the corner? I am sure it’s you.” Sonia nodded and said, “ Yes, it’s me. But how did you draw it? I mean we have never met before”. The painter replied, “ No, Maam I have not drawn it. One of my fellow passenger on the flight has drawn it. You see both of us were travelling by the same flight from Russia. He was sitting next to me. He carried this painting with him. He started a conversation with me as soon as he learnt that I am a painter. He also showed me the portrait saying it’s not just a simple painting but a moment, a moment he treasures forever”.

Sonia impatiently asked, “ Was his name Iran ?” saying so she showed him the picture of Iran from her cellphone. The painter nodded and said, “ Yes, this was the gentleman. You know him?” She replied, “ Where is he now, please tell me I need to meet him it’s urgent”. The man gave her the saddest news of her life saying, “ Sorry ma’am to inform you but the gentleman couldn’t make it. He couldn’t survive. I have kept this painting as his momentum. You can take it Maam if you want”.

Sonia said nothing taking the painting she ran home. Sitting on the sofa she touched the painting with her bare hands. The painting was burnt at sides. And on the back an envelope was attached. Opening the letter she read it aloud, “ Sonia I am sorry for all the pain I have caused you all these years. I got drifted away from you in the glitz and glamor of a new world. Little did I realised that you were my world. Now that I have understood what you are for me. I have drawn this painting. Please accept it and forgive me. Let us start everything afresh.

Your’s forever,


Inside the envelope there was also a wedding ring. She held the ring close to herself and two drops of tears fell on the burnt painting.

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