I have a box full of memories. A box where I have gently kept dolls and toys from my childhood. Treasures include my first fairytale and Oscar wilde books to name a few. Over the years, the box had kept on piling up; at times it seemed it would overflow the brim. Nonetheless, I kept putting in the things that I treasured the most. Old letters that my family had sent when I moved to a hostel are also a major part. The pages of those letters are now yellow and brittle; often tearing at the careful folds that were made to fit cleanly in an envelope. Touching these very brittle pieces of composed love gave me a glimpse of where I came from. A sense of identity. Moreover, it transported me to my childhood and adolescent years; years that seem so very romantic when seen from a little distance away. Love and comfort and indulgences is all you remember.
I often visit my treasured box of memories. Just to check if all is okay and if everything is where it should be.Little did I know then that my treasure trove of memories was all but the right place for these material things. The other day, on an usual inspection I sat down to sort my memory box. Dusting through the now yellow pages of a fairy take book, I was lost in the time when I had first held it in my hands.
‘Relishing the crisp new smell of a book. Browsing through the beautifully illustrated pages and losing myself in the stories that lulled my fantasies for years to come.I basked in pride showing off this book to anyone who cared to see; because this was the first big book that I had. My parents had gone to a book fair and had carefully chosen these books for me. I can almost see how they must have looked through for something that I would like.’
This book held all these emotions for me. The joy, the love and the fantasies.But somehow, I was surprised at my reaction for the book as I held it that day.
True, I felt all the happy emotions fill up my being, but somehow it was masked with an emptiness.
‘I have been with you all these years, now what? The book seemed to ask me through its crisp pages.’
It was like I have bottled up something. What was it? I wondered. Uncomfortable, I kept the book inside and shut the box.
I went out to a cafe to gather my thoughts.As I sat sipping a latte, my thoughts took reins and I realized that I had been holding on to so many things from my past. Memories that are pleasant yes, that has served me yes, but somehow it has also taken claim over my present.
Following my thoughts I found myself in a party. A party in Delhi. It was that time when I was making my transition from being a college kid to being a working woman. It was New Year’s Eve and all the girls had gathered together for a night of feasting and merry making. It was lovely. Winter, cooking in pots by the bonfire, playing games around the fire on an open air floor, followed by the then New Year’s Welcoming dance. I had been there and it was one of those parties of college days that had the potential to etch a pleasant memory.
But I had messed up all. How?
Because I had spent that evening lost in memories. Bonfires, parties, music transported me to my childhood days in Assam and I sat there nostalgic. Not knowing that this was the last party that I will have before I enter life as a certified adult. No more north campus, no more friends, no more careless merry making. I sat throughout the party being there but living in a past that has long gone.In my involvement of who I was in the past, I had forgotten who I am in the present. Life kept on coaxing me to participate, to catch hold of the last moments of a carefree party that a girl would have in her life but I did not oblige. The photographs next day was all the memory I have of that New years eve. But it was a memory without the experience. Just like a laughter without real joy.
Back in the cafe, as the sound and lights of my present environment came back to perspective, I realized that I miss so many things, I hold on to so many things, but in reality, whatever I have is all in me. Material memories are just that – material things. What makes it special is the experience involved. I realized then, that I do not need to search for who I was in my past, because who I was is a part of who I am now.
I was jolted to realization by this memory. As if on instinct, I suddenly realized what I needed to do! Hastily paying my bill I rushed back home. I took my box of memories and dusted it making it look clean and new. I then contacted people who might be needing books and toys for charity. Strangely enough, there were a lot of people who needed it. For the thalassemia society, orphanages, hospitals the list was endless. Gradually grateful takers came in to collect my treasure. As I gave away the last of my memories, of course, I was struck with a deep sense of loss. The pain of letting go was so deep that I had to stifle an adamant tear drop. ‘But a deep sense of loss of what?’ My mind reasoned –‘Of a time gone by?’
As I handed my fairytale book that I had so held close to my heart, it seemed to say to me. ‘Thanks for unleashing a new life in me.I was sad and so I withered. But now, I can give the same joy to some little child,to someone who needs me.The same joy that had I given to you. Thank you for giving the meaning of my existence back to me.’
I realized then, life is all about letting go. Whatever is ours always remains with us. We do not need to hold on to anything except the beauty of our present existence.