holding on

i carry this one notebook with me with a plastic cover and yellowing pages. you can’t find that kind of notebook around anymore. it is the precursor to what in our early school days was called ‘kitabcha-e-sadwaraqa’; the 100-page notebook. i recall lamenting even then that one cannot find those old notebooks anymore. it is filled with exquisite drawings and sketches – mostly of nature and flowers – with a most impeccable shading. and all done with ballpoint pens and with utmost care. (i am sure one of those original good old ‘bic’ pens – which you cannot find around anymore either.) years ago, she once told me that she had other notebooks like that also filled with drawings and selected verse. i never found those. but this one notebook is a treasured piece of family heirloom now – and in contest between me and my youngest sister. we have, however, developed a good arrangement over who should have it when. who needs it most. a good understanding that if one of us goes into the other’s room looking for it, we know better than to ask or to want to grab on to it. the other of us must be needing it more. and so it goes. the older it gets, the more precious it seems to become. and with every page that fades, every corner that falls off because it is so old, the distance in time and space seems to grow. i am afraid of forgetting. of years washing away the memories. of new layers replacing the old ones. this is why i cling on however i can. a few weeks back i was in the kitchen fixing a snack and saw these old, sturdy pieces of silverware. the kind that you cannot find easily anymore. you could see they had been used well. i collected all of them and folded them in a clean napkin and put them away in my room. i came back down and saw a dish in which we used to keep the yogurt – at least that is how i remember it. i am not sure what function it served anymore. i picked this up and brought it to my room and put this away too. what for? i am not sure. it was impulsive and almost involuntary – and something in me longed to extend the lives of these ordinary household items, and thereby preserve my own memories for a bit longer. then i remembered another old bowl i used to dine out of when i was young. it had travelled with us all the way around our various moves. by some miracle, it was still around until a couple of years ago. but i could not find it any longer. and again that feeling of free fall, of distance and time stretching out in space and taking us apart overwhelmed me. there was this one granite and marble stone ashtray – remnant of another era -which i tucked away too. now i have a treasure trove of these tiny heirlooms that serve as my only links to her, my aide memoirs, my connections and roots. maybe i am being a pack-rat. maybe i am being overly sentimental. i am not sure. yet, i know i do not want to forget. i do not want to move on, move along -whatever you name it. it’s the mother’s day today and i remember her as someone who had an insatiable thirst for life, goodness, and happiness. that she did not get to witness some of the happier moments for which she of all people toiled so hard and long, is something i cannot yet fully wrap my head around. nowhere in the grand scheme of divine wisdom and heavenly justice have i found a way to -satisfactorily for myself- reconcile this grand dissonance. i am not sure if i ever will.

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~ by safrang on June 15, 2010.

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