Writing 101: Day16 – The Notebook: Lost…only to be found

She steps into the attic. It has been a long time since she has last come here. She notices that all the boxes are neatly stacked but covered with dust. She has been accustomed to seeing every nook and corner of the house absolutely clean. Her mother had been an athlete once and somehow she has always felt that her agility at getting things done results from there. But recently, her mother seems to have slowed down somehow. She had never paid much attention before because she was too busy with her job and her boyfriend and her own life. But this time, with both those things very effectively removed from her mind and life, she has not been able to overlook the fact that both her parents seems to have aged a lot. She has realized that she has been selfish and negligent with them. And the way that they have welcomed her back knowing that she has resigned from her job and been dumped by her boyfriend, has only made her feel more ashamed and guilty.

But, it is better late than never. Now that she has come home, she plans to get the house renovated at once, something her father has wanted to do for a long time. Her father has never been good at such commonplace and worldly things like money and construction. So, at the request of her mother, she has come up here at the attic to clean the place and remove the important stuff so that the rest of the things can be disposed of.

Looking through all the boxes, she notices that her mother has not thrown away a single thing that belonged to her. Every school text book, scrap book, every uniform that ever belonged to her has been neatly packed in boxes. It is almost as if her whole childhood has been preserved in these boxes. Going through the things, she feels like she is peeping back into her childhood days.

And then she discovers it, the fat hardbound notebook which used to be her diary. It was the notebook which held her every secret, her dreams and aspirations, her thoughts and imagination. She thought that she had lost it but it seems her mother had found it somewhere and preserved it here. She goes through the yellowish pages reading the poems that she had composed as a teenager, the fictional characters that she had created in the stories, her thoughts and ruminations. She remembers the time when writing meant everything to her.

That was before she understood the value of money. That was before she understood the struggles her parents had to go through to put a proper meal on the table because her father had no “real job”. He is a painter and though he is quite well-known now, it was not easy for them during her teenage years. That was when she had decided that she will not grow up to be like her father. She will earn money, lots and lots of it. And her parents would never have to suffer any more. However, the more she became involved with her career, the more she moved away from her parents. Thinking about those childhood dreams now brings tears to her eyes. Really who has she turned into? Who has she become?

Her father may not have earned a lot of money, but he has always followed his heart and dreams. He has remained true to himself and to his wife. Who has she been true to? So involved is she in her thoughts that she does not hear the footsteps of her father entering the attic. She suddenly feels his hand on her head and looks up with tears brimming in her eyes.

“What’s wrong honey”, he asks in his ever gentle tones.

“Nothing Dad”, she whispers” I just found something that I had lost a long time ago”.

“What is it?”

“Nothing much, just myself”.

They look into each others’ eyes and smile with total comprehension.

Writing 101: Day13 – Finding the lost..

She moves around the kitchen like a well-oiled machine. Cooking two curries simultaneously is something she has managed to do over the many years. In fact, on the festive occasions, she still manages to cook a three course meal without any help from anyone. Trying to take out some spices to put in her simmering curry, she opens the bottle. She takes some coriander powder and sprinkles it all over her curry. Now she has to mix it with the rest of the ingredients with the ladle. But wait, where is the ladle? She turns a cursory glance around the counter. No, it is not there. She goes towards the shelves where all the bottles and spices are. She must have put it while looking for the spice. But no, it is not there as well. Looking frantically now, she starts searching the entire kitchen.

And while searching for that lost ladle, she is reminded of all the things she has found. She is lucky to have found a husband who loves and respects her, more so now after twenty five years of marriage. She had chosen a man for herself who, a lot of people thought, was not right for her. She is a practical soul, a woman who moves on despite all the obstacles, a go-getter. On the other hand, her husband is an artist, a man who lives in the world of imagination and who is apparently irresponsible and impractical. But, she knew what she was getting into. He may not seem to care about normal worldly things but he loves her with a passion that an ordinary man cannot comprehend. In fact, she herself cannot believe sometimes that such a talented man could fall in love with such a simple woman like her. Together, they have built a beautiful home and raised a wonderful daughter. They have seen ups and downs in life but everything has fallen in place.

But somewhere down the line, while being there for her husband, tending to his needs every day, giving birth and taking care of her daughter, she has indeed lost “herself”. She has sacrificed so much. Once a state-level athlete, she gave up sports on the insistence of her father. A girl is supposed to marry and become a mother. She cannot spend her entire life running around and collecting trophies. No, that just doesn’t work. Her husband gave her much happiness. But when she thinks about the feeling of freedom that she used to feel while sprinting across the tracks, the wind caressing her hair, her every muscle and instinct in tandem focused on the finish line, she feels like she is a loser. She should have fought a little bit harder. Now, the only place where she uses her skills is while juggling with the utensils or sprinting across the hallway to get to the milk before it overflows while boiling.

“Krrriiiingg…kriinnng”

The sound of the telephone breaks into her thoughts. Getting out of her reverie, she sprints out of the kitchen and grabs the phone. “Hello”, she says breathlessly.

“Hello Mom”, the voice on the other end says. It is her daughter. “I am coming home”.

Suddenly all the feelings that she has lost something, vanishes. She feels as light as the air. And she realizes that what she has found in life is far more precious than what she has lost.

Walking down in a daze of happiness after this realization, she enters the kitchen and her eyes fall on that very thing that she was searching for, her ladle. She had put it in the other bowl where the other curry was cooking. She picks up the ladle, smiles to herself and continues cooking.