Sunday afternoons are the worst. Kids stay home and watched the telly. He joins them on the couch and they alternate between napping and wrestling for the remote. A heavy brunch around noon and I am mostly left alone.
I have this corner of the house to myself, the store room where everything that I never had the heart to give away has found a home. A hoarder, I collect things like memories and bundled them up with a bow of joy. Their first rompers, our wedding invite, that too-small-for-a-mother of-two little black dress, my first typewriter, and even some music CDs, among other things. Letters, diaries, magazines, albums, cameras…
It was a year ago that I became a pilgrim to this room. My life in a box, I would call it. Irritated by the ruckus in the living room, a restless and agitated me found solace in an old, battered novel I had dug up here. The next week, it was my parent’s charmingly preserved photographs. Then, some sketch books I had kept all these years.
Today, I’m tackling a box that says PRIVATE. I don’t remember why that warning was written in such bold letters, on a brown carton, with a solid black marker. Not that anyone would ever trespass here—the room was invisible to everyone in the house, barred of all technology.
Half filled with diaries, notepads, notebooks, and papers. Writings. One is mine, I know. And the other is of someone I love very much.
We had no phones in those days. Computers were a luxury we didn’t have. No emails, no texts, no video calls. We did everything on paper. Innocent ramblings of a teenage girl, telling her reader how the day went at school.
“You are not here, so I’m writing everything down before I forget. Maths was boring. Someone played a prank on the Physics teacher and the principle punished us all. I didn’t have anyone to have lunch with in the recess, so I just sat in class…”
Religiously for ten days, there were ten entries. Even if it was just one sentence: “I am too tired to write today, will do it tomorrow.”
I jump with glee when a few pages later, the correspondence start in earnest, with replies. Either side is discussing what someone else reading this would consider tedious humdrum. Yawn-worthy. Just plain boring.
But I am reading it as it is scripture, passages and passages of a life I hadn’t lived in decades. Flashbacks to the time when penning down thoughts really meant penning down. We had shared our deepest thoughts, our worries, our delights, with each other, without judgment.
“I can’t believe you left your bag in her house! What if she read all this? We have written so much about her…”
“I bunked school to go to a movie with some friends…”
“I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I love writing but that can’t be a career, can it?”
“Hey, what are you doing sitting on the floor?” He finds me in the room, eyes alight with pleasure, I am sure. It has grown quiet in the house, which means the kids have gone to the park. He brings me a cup of coffee and kneels down to look into the box.
He understands, smiles, and leaves the room. He comes back with a paper and pen. I haven’t written a letter in ages, I tell him. To this he replies, good thing you found the stationery, then.
Thirty years later (not exactly to the day but close enough)—I stir the wheel again.
You won’t believe what I just found in my store room. Our childhood diaries! Remember how we used to exchange them in class? One was almost caught in my bag in school! I was reading them just now and I wanted to write to you. Not text or email, but exercise penmanship.
How are you?
And so, it begins again.