The window offered a view of the house opposite. The two families did not speak to each other because of a property dispute. One day, Ruchira’s textbooks lay untouched as the young girl’s gaze was on the happenings in the house opposite. There were two new faces in the neighbouring household–those of an elderly widow and a girl, aged sixteen. Sometimes the elderly lady would sit by the window, doing young girl’s hair. On other days she was absent.
The new young neighbour’s daily routine could be seen through the work window-she cleaned the paddy; split nuts, put the cushions in the sun to air them. In the afternoons while the men were all out some of the women slept and others played cards. The girl sat on the terrace and read. Sometimes she wrote. One day there was a hindrance. She was writing when the elderly woman snatched the unfinished letter from her hands. Thereafter the girl was not to be seen on the terrace. Sometimes during the day sounds came from the house indicating that a massive argument was going on inside.
A few days passed. One evening Ruchira noticed the girl standing on the terrace in tears. When evening prayer was in progress. As she did daily, the girl bowed several times in prayer. Then she went downstairs. That night Ruchira wrote a letter. She went out and posted it that very instant. But as she lay in bed that night, she prayed fervently that her offer of friendship wouldn’t reach its destination. Ruchira then left for Madhupur and returned when it was time for college to start. She found the house opposite in darkness, locked. They had left.
When she stepped into her room she found the desk piled with letters–one had a local on it with her name and address in unfamiliar handwriting. She quickly read it. They continued to write to each other for the next twenty years.