A man visited his father.
The old man was on the deathbed.
And wanted to settle financial issues before he popped it.
The father, after handing over all earthly possessions to the young man, handed him a sealed envelope. He said “you must never read it. No matter what happens”. The son vowed to keep his promise and the man departed to the next world peacefully.
Time as always heals everything. The man got on with his life.
Married. Procreated. Progressed in business. Life was good.
Then one day the wife, while cleaning his study came across this envelope he had kept in the lower most drawer, next to the Bible.
She read the letter and was aghast!
In the evening when the man returned after work, she sat him down and said that she was leaving him. And taking the kids with her. And half of the estate. And handed him the letter, now sealed again.
The man was struck with grief. He could not imagine what that letter contained that would have such a disastrous repercussion.
After his wife left him half as poorer in the bank than in the heart, he was tempted to read the letter. But somehow managed to keep the will in place.
He hit the bottle with a vengeance and let it drain along all the wealth he had left.
Not to mention letting it take a toll on his health.
His doctor one day confronted him. Pleaded that he was present at his birthing and could not see this misery befall him. He mentioned that he was a friend and if something was bothering him he could talk about it.
The man told him. Told him everything that happened since he first got that letter.
The doctor offered a solution. He said he would read it and tell him of its contents.
An agreement was reached. The envelope was given to the doctor.
He read it, smiled, re-sealed the envelope and handed it back to the man.
And said he had to go. And would not be visiting him from now.
An alternate doctor was needed.
What the man went through at this stage is indescribable in words.
Mind, body and soul, all were tormented. And he forgot about a life that once showed so much of promise. The house, along with all the other things he had were slowly sold off to compensate for the heavy losses in business. And the son of a wealthy father one day became a street bum living on alms. But he still did not open that letter.
Not because of will. Will and any such thing was long lost. This time it was fear.
He feared what that letter contained. He feared of a revelation so horrendous that he too like others would have to leave him and go. He feared that letter as if it contained his death.
Drunk and ragged he was one day picked up from the harbor by a crew and taken onboard as domestic help for the quarters. In exchange for food, a warm bed to sleep in and an occasional drink.
The man finally let go of the bottle and opted for access to newspaper, books and TV. Occasionally. No matter how he had managed the crisis in life, he was an educated man who once was a successful businessman. And it was not long before he became the preferred man Friday for the captains’ quarters.
Once he even got to have a drink with the captain. One drink.
After learning his background (the parts involving and related to the letter were omitted in this narrative. Failures and alimony were attributed to other causes) the captain was impressed. He started taking the mans advice on budgeting, strategy and a lot more.
He became a much admired, loved and respected man on the ship.
The captains’ quarters were vandalized one night while the ship was on shore and the sailors had vanished to hit the bars and whorehouses. Our man remained on the ship in the lower deck playing poker with the engine room boys.
At the crack of dawn when the captain returned all hell broke lose. Order was called. Threats were made. Blows were delivered to the junior staff.
The captain had lost his most prized possession. His diamond studded watch.
Searches were made, with the captain himself leading the brigade.
He was the one who personally searched the man Friday quarters and casually flipped through our mans stuff very sure that he would not have taken it.
He saw the envelope hidden neatly at the bottom of the pile in the study rack.
He pocketed it out of curiosity.
The watch was found in another staff member’s room and he confessed to it. he was dismissed immediately and was asked to confine himself to the lower most deck along with the cargo till they reach the nearest port. Where he would be offloaded.
After retiring to his quarter that night the captain fingered the letter in his shirt pocket. He was overwhelmed with guilt and yet was intrigued by the state of this bright and brilliant man. He read it.
The man as woken up in his sleep by the captain. The lights were on.
You have to leave the captain said. Right now. We cannot wait till we reach the shore.
A life raft is ready. Stocked with food. And some brandy for the weather.
A message will be sent to the nearest ship that would rescue him in about 2 days.
But he would have to leave right away.
No reason was given to the man. None was required because before leaving the captain handed him the envelope. Now sealed again.
As the stand in manpower lowered the raft with the man and food supplies to last him a week into the ocean the captain assured him that the rescue boat was on its way. And he would be saved. A word of advice though.
Do not mention or show the letter to them.
The man started at the horizon for a long time after the ship had vanished.
He didn’t know what to feel. And I don’t know how to describe what he felt.
He forgot about everything and tore open the envelope. And extracted the letter.
Just then a gush of wind blew the letter out of his trembling hands.
The rescue ship rescued his body from the sharks that were circling the raft within 12 hours.