Being a Woman
As another year dawns, it’s not only an opportunity for new beginnings, but also a time to stop for a moment and take stock of what has happened so far. My glance into the past does not involve a stroll down the proverbial memory lane, but it is more like stepping into my memory room. A safe place where all my memories are stored carefully, stacked in polished wooden boxes, some of which have dulled to a soft brown due to the passage of time. In fact the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts Castle (Harry Potter) reminds me of my Room of Memories. It’s always there, but only I have entry to it. Shelves border the room, rising up to the ceiling, which remains unseen somewhere high above, obscured by the shifting fogs of time. The more recent memories are casually stashed in the lower shelves while the older ones reside above.
There’s a squishy armchair in a corner of the room, with a lamp throwing a warm glow beside it. The carpet has been worn bare due to my countless visits over the years, hurried ones as well as those where I spend ages just savouring the familiar scents from long forgotten scenes of my life, tinted in sepia and teeming with emotions. In here, the seasons, days and nights are determined by the memories. I have felt the wetness of rain on my cheeks while it was sweltering hot outside; the winds of childhood summers have run their fingers consolingly over my hair while Sunday evening blues descended on me; I have found solace in the velvety darkness of my grandmother’s room while the sun blazed down mercilessly outside.
I love curling up in my armchair and just looking around at the boxes, each of them an integral part of my life so far. I have flung some boxes into the highest recesses, not wanting to see them at all. But there are certain moments when they come to the forefront of t and then I quickly exit the room. If I happen to delve further into those boxes, a deep pall of gloom settles over me and I’m left with tinges of bitterness swirling in my mind. On the contrary, there are those boxes that come tumbling down without much effort from my part. They lead me on a happy journey, with lots of laughter, the presence of loved ones, amazing conversations, shared meals and a general sense of belonging. I come away from such jaunts feeling relaxed and thoroughly refreshed.
At times while I lounge around in the armchair not looking for any box in particular, flashes of colour or the faint strains of a long-forgotten song draw me to some boxes which have remained unnoticed for a long time. And then it’s such a delight to open it and find so many precious memories that have been stored carefully but which have never been taken out and relished. Many a time, I have started with a box, the contents of which led me to other boxes, peopled with different characters and in different locations. By the time I have to leave, I find myself in an entirely separate landscape from the one where I began.
There’re so many keys which open this room for me – a familiar scent from my childhood like Cinthol soap or Cuticura powder, a particular fish curry which has the absolute same balance of flavours as the one I’ve eaten in my grandmother’s kitchen, a glimpse of a visage I see on the street which has me breathless for a moment because it reminds me of a loved one who is no more – all these and more open the doors of that beautiful room. At times, even without realising it, I find myself in the armchair with the contents of a box spilling onto my lap.
Each of us have our own method of storing those magical moments which have enriched our lives and taught us many a thing about life, both good and the not-so-good lessons. There’re times when I suddenly realise that the people I have left behind in that room are no longer with me. Just as a feeling of sadness rises within, the thought of visiting them in my Room of Memories makes me feel glad again. They have had various reasons to go their separate ways, and there’s no point in brooding over it. Life is a vehicle where we have very little control over the people who travel with us or the distance they accompany us. So enjoy their presence while they are with us and then visit them in our memories when they are no longer by our side.