A few streaks of light emanating from the moon, entering the dark and somber room alighted on my face as I sat at my usual corner, the corner which has been my bed since the past seven months. I was probably the only one awake at this hour of the night while the rest of my companions lay deep in slumber except that lady clad in blood red.
The sleep played hide and seek with me and every time I looked for her in some corner, emerged memories. She had once spoken to me these words “wrinkles are beautiful for each wrinkle tells a tale.” And today as I lay in solitude, my wrinkles bubble to tell their tales.
The little wrinkle near my eyes remind me of where I had first opened my eyes – a run-down, dingy house in the clumsy streets of Kolkata which smelled of mishti and brought up by the old man who was by then, probably in his late fifties – his skin loose and sagging, eyes covered with thick glasses, a few white strands of hair on his head, clad in white dhoti and a red liquid of pan always dripping from his lips. He had sewed me a pretty peacock blue coat with white laces which became the object of envy for days among my cousins. They were all sent away like brides in palanquins. What was to happen to me, who knew?
I was brought out of the trance by the ticking and tocking. The lady in blood-red, much to my surprise, was staring at me. She was new to us and prided herself in being her favorite friend. She had brought her home seven months ago, the day I was sent to exile in my own home.
That I could break her illusion! But then I wish to go back to my reverie. This place isn’t merely rooms, but it has become my home since she, only twelve then, stepped here, holding me in her arms like a new-born baby, with a grin revealing her broken tooth.
“When I take a step first into left, you say it’s right but if I take a step first into right, you say its wrong. But how can left be right and right be wrong?” Not more than often you would wrinkle you nose and question me and loot less than always, I would suppress a giggle seeing the frown.
The patches on my jacket tickled me pink bringing in front of me a vivid image of all the paths travelled together, the forests explored, of all the times the damp green grass nuzzled against our skin, when after minutes of jogging, we rested against the tree trunk and let the essence of life sink in, of all the times we would dance to the beats of her laughter and ump high into the air, arms stretched as if to touch the clouds.
The dry mud clinging to my jacket does not want to be dusted off for it is a souvenir of the journey into the meadow residing in hills among the clouds. The petrichor had enchanted her while I let the feeling of damp mud against me overtake me. The excited jogs had turned into soft paces that I took for her. The sight of the meadow had made the soft steps come to a halt to admire the tangible magic in front of us.
Something is tugging at me. This time it’s not a wrinkle. No. It’s the painful horizontal gash across my face. The brutual rip furiously endeavors to bring me back, remind me that the impending moment is not long away. I want to run –this time, not towards it but far, far away. That’s what I am for, ain’t I?
Amidst all tales, the rip deserves its tale to be told. So, I dive again to find the piece of memory buried so deep, with so much effort.
Seven months ago.
The soulless body was lowered into the 4 by 6 feet depression made into the ground. Tears shed had moistened the earth. Her mother was buried. A fistful of earth mingled with mingled with a daughter’s prayers and love were lowered onto the body. The sweetest fragrance – the fragrance of love and prayer had nauseated me. I remember us running, the very next moment and being tangled in thorny shrubs and hence the rip.
The sun shimmers brightly filling the entire room with light, bringing into focus the dust particles floating towards an unknown destination. I couldn’t help but feel the tiniest flicker of hope burn inside me. Probably I shall get to meet her last time before….. before I AM SENT AWAY TO THE ORPHANAGE TO FIND A NEW FRIEND.
The door opens and her elongated shadow enters before her. A warm fuzzy feeling engulfs me – not the one that marks the end of a temporary separation but the one that symbolizes permanent parting of the ways.
Bending over me, she whispered, “Take care of her just the way you took care of me, for she is going to step into you, my shoes.” While the red stilettoes burnt with envy.