Raj read the note again and again. His grip was shaky and the words trembled as his eyes scanned over them. A single tear rolled down his cheek. Even in the ninety degree weather, Raj's hotel room felt ice cold. His head was pounding, the waves of pain matching his heartbeat. Again and again, icy spikes of dread would race up and down his spine, gathering at the back of his neck.
He knew that he shouldn't be reading the letter. It was only bringing back horrible memories. Memories of a long over friendship. A friendship ruined by an admission of love.
Rah hadn't been back to the states for ten years. Ten long years. He'd changed so much since he'd left. Stricken with grief, he'd run back home forgetting the friends he left behind. Raj had hoped that a change of scenery would fix his shattered heart. He'd only managed to forget himself in work and family.
He'd gotten married at 30 to a nice Indian girl his parents selected. She was pleasant enough. They would never love each other. Sex was only a means of procreation, never pleasure. It had brought him three daughters. His parents were so proud of him; he'd gone to medical school and now had taken over his father's business. All of this was an attempt to forget everything. It didn't work.
Last week Raj had gotten the call. The man he'd spent ten years trying to forget was dead. The tears were falling freely now, as Raj recalled those painful words.
"Raj? I'm calling about Howard." the voice on the pone cracked, "he's dead."
A sob escaped from between Raj's lips. The memories were flooding back into his mind now and he couldn't do anything to stop it. He remembered the long flight to California. He remembered not being able to recognize Leonard, who had been a friend for years when he'd picked him up. The only thing that hadn't changed at all was Sheldon.
Bernadette had approached him at the funeral. Raj was surprised to learn that they'd never married.
"He was always waiting for someone else." she had explained, "I never realized that that person was you."
After giving him a hug, Bernadette handed Raj a letter.
If you're reading this that means I'm dead. I've killed myself. For ten years no I've been living with this hole in my heart. For ten years I've been bound by regret. There hasn't been a day that's gone by where I didn't think of you, where I didn't want to hop on a plane to Delhi. But I never did. I am- was – a coward. I tried to forget you. I tried hating you. I couldn't because I love you. I think I always have. If I had only realized that when you told me how you felt years ago. Our lives would be so different. Would we be together? Married? I don't know. If I had only said something to you. I wouldn't have lived in such misery. Or caused you to live in the same misery. I don't want you to ever forgive me. Please hate me. It will be easier on both of us. I am so sorry things turned out like this.