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: Day7 – A Dialogue of Conflict – Where we were and where we have ended up now

They stand face to face like bulls locking horns, all ready to fight it out. In a three year long relationship they have had tiffs before but never have they come across a situation where they are so entirely opposed to one another. They have always agreed on all the important things and their friends have always envied their apparent like-mindedness in everything, from which movie to go to how much space the other person needs. They have themselves taken this like-mindedness so much for granted that it has shaken them up immensely to discover that they actually do not think alike in all matters.

“Are you telling me that you do not want to shift to Mumbai?” he asks, as if the thought had never even occurred to him.

“But I thought we had decided to move to Kolkata, where our families are. We are both the eldest child and we got to take care of our parents, especially now that they are getting older”, she tries to reason.

“How can we take care of our parents if we cannot take care of ourselves? Baby, opportunities like this do not come every day in life. You have to understand. If I stay here, I get this promotion and if I move from here then God knows how much more time I have to wait before getting a similar opportunity. I have worked hard. Don’t you think I deserve this?” he tries to make her understand, his voice rising towards the end.

“And what do I deserve? I have always supported you in everything. Three years we have had this long distance relationship, you in Mumbai and me in Delhi. I have never complained. You promised we would move closer to home and I have already left my job to move there. We are supposed to get married in another three months. Now you want to break that promise just because it suits you”, she says her voice breaking with all the emotions that she is feeling.

“Oh, and what about the promise that you made? You said you will always stand by me. Have you forgotten that?” he says in an accusing voice.

She does not respond for a long time. He looks at her and finds her standing like a figure carved out of stone.

“You know, I also promised to myself that I will take good care of my parents. Don’t make me choose”, she whispers.

“Why? Because I know you will never choose me? Go ahead and tell me. I think I don’t even care anymore”, he says in a tormented voice.

“Well then, I think we have nothing more to say to each other”, she says calmly even though she can hardly believe that those are her words. The tears running down her face, she looks at him and finds that he is equally shocked by these words.

They look at each other helplessly, wanting to say something and not knowing what to say. They both wish they could unsay and undo what had been said and done in the last ten minutes. But they feel as if an invisible wall has risen up between them while they were not looking and now they do not have the power to break it even if they want to. Actually they no longer feel sure that they want to break the wall. Feelings of hurt, betrayal, pain and disillusionment prevent them from reaching out to the other. Looking at the other person, they can no longer see the one that they wanted to spend their lives with, but a complete stranger.

All that is left are memories of happier times and broken promises, and an uncomfortable silence.