Of Childhood and Notebooks

I remember a time, back when I was barely twelve, and we lived in a small house with breaking mosaic patterned tiles, Mom never bought us those ruled notebooks. Instead, she’d buy us sheets of plain, white paper and stitch them up to make it look like a notebook.

I was always fascinated with those hardbound or paperback notebooks, though, for they had pictures of superheroes and superstars and unicorns on them. But Mom never bought us those. All I had were sheets of bright, crisp paper divided into two halves, with a taut white string holding the pages together.

With time, I learnt to make it look better. I’d paste little stickers on it or cut out pictures from magazines and old newspapers and decorate the front page with them. But no matter how much I tried, the cover page of my notebook was never as glossy or gorgeous as the ones they sold in shops. But I never gave up. I started sketching and drawing on the front page to make it look the way I wanted it to be. Often, somebody in school would stop by, steal a glance at my weird, little notebook and ask me if I had designed it. A part of me would be scared to answer because there’d always be this lingering fear in my mind whether it’d be laughed upon or appreciated. My friends would compliment me and shove their notebooks into my hand and ask me to design one for them.

Over the years, plain notebooks without factory-made cover pages didn’t bother me anymore.

Even when I had a chance to buy myself those notebooks I had once envied, it didn’t feel that great as it was supposed to. Rather, the notebooks felt too ordinary when I pulled them out from my bag and saw the rest of the class of forty students pull out the same kind of notebook too. That is when I realized how beautiful those barren, plain notebooks that Mom brought for us, were. My designs on it were unique. Yes, there was no cellophane covering on it, so whenever it rained, I had to go back home, tear away the cover page and make another one, but it was all worth. For they stood out. Stood out from the rest.

Over the years, many other things changed too. Mom stopped buying us those sheets of paper and instead bought us those hardbound, ruled notebooks. I didn’t draw on them. They looked too perfect already. The cover pages were waterproof. So I didn’t have to bother when it rained. In fact, I never bothered at all. I let them lie on the study table, collecting dust. The other notebooks carried a piece of me in them. I’d keep them locked up in cupboards like they were some hidden treasure. And my heart would swell in pride every time somebody would praise them.

I don’t know why I suddenly remembered about them. The thought arrived like a little flash of memory, bringing along with, a fountain of nostalgia.

Years have gone by. I’ve moved on from those “weird”, little notebooks to factory-made, custom designed notebooks to spiral bound ones and more. But I haven’t moved on from those memories. Be it the awkward squirming on seeing a friend pull out a proper notebook to waiting for the class to look at the teacher so that I could pull out my notebook without becoming a laughing stock to garnering appreciation for the same doodles, it’s been a crazy little ride.

A part of me wants to go back in time and find my treasure cove. I want to call Mom up and ask her if they sell those loose sheets of paper anymore. But I know the answer, they don’t. Just like me, they’ve moved on to better technology and better ways. Mom probably wouldn’t make me those notebooks if I asked her to. She is too busy. Yet, a part of me wants that and only that.

It makes me wonder of how we remember so much about the things we shouldn’t have bothered to remember. Perhaps, it is because though the moment had seemed very insignificant once upon a time, it made us into the person we are today. The miles we’ve come; the miles we’ve yet to conquer, we owe it to these tiny, beautiful memories.

Of Once-Upon-A-Times

She was elated that day. Happy, cheerful with an infectious mirth plastered over her face. She skipped down the stairs, swinging her arms; twirled around on the road, laughing really hard. Nothing could spoil her mood that day, she knew. She couldn’t wait to get back home and pick up her phone and tell people about how happy she was.

She was sad. Utterly, painfully sad. Only barely she kept herself from breaking down in front of the class of sixty students that sat in the little room. Her eyes welled up and her hands shook every time the lump in her throat became too hard to swallow. She couldn’t wait to get back home and find a shoulder to cry on.

She reached home and plopped herself back on her bed, still smiling and picked up her phone. Scrolling through the contacts, she bit her lips as she wondered who to call to. Sure she had a lot of friends in her list. But she wanted to call a particular someone and tell her how happy she was. Her fingers hovered a while above the one name she had tried to forget for the past few months and her lips twisted into a frown. Suddenly, she was no longer happy. An almost sheering pain jolted through her body as the painful realization dawned upon her that she couldn’t call that person up. While one part of her desperately wanted to give it a try and see if things worked out fine, the other part of her was scared. Scared that she would end up as a blocked contact. So, silently wiping the little tear that trickled down her cheek, she put away her phone and sighed.

She reached home and gasped for air. Never in her life had she felt so broken and so disastrous. There was only one person who knew how to calm her down and how to give her the courage to face another dawn. But, were they even talking anymore? Clutching the armrest of her leather couch, she coughed and broke down. A part of her wanted to leave her a message. Just to know if she cared enough to reply back. But what if she didn’t? She didn’t think she could take that kind of pain again, anymore.

Both of them cried to sleep that night, each thinking about the other. They missed the times they laughed over the phone; and ate till they choked. They remembered the times they promised each other how they’d forgive no matter what and how they’ll be friends forever. And oh, how they cried when they realized forever had just been a sincere lie.

Each one of them made a silent wish before they drifted to sleep…to go back to best friends they had once been.

Once upon a time.

Of Sad, Lonely Days

Curled up in the bed, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, clutching the pillow, she peeked out from the duvet and looked out of the window.

Drops of rain lazily trickled down the frosted windows, blurring the world outside. Only flashes of red taillights were all she could see.

Sighing, she buried her face into her hair again, smelling the faint aroma of her shampoo and for a moment, her eyes fluttered close. The very next moment, she woke up, fumbling for her phone under the sheets; found it, and sighed again as she stared at the screen.

Wasn’t anybody bothered, she wondered. Would anybody ask for her if she disappeared the other day?

Curled up in the bed, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, she waited a little longer. Up until another dawn.

But there were no calls. There were no voice messages.

Curled up in the bed, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, all she wished for was somebody to whisper her words of joy; somebody to call her up and ask her how she was; somebody to tell her that they are there and that she is not alone.

But the evening sky merged into inky darkness and darkness faded to give place to the sunshine and yet, her phone never rang. Nobody called her up to tell her that they’ve got her back. Nobody called, bothered about her. Nobody called.

Curled up in the bed, now in a pool of her tears, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, she waited only to realize she was all alone. So, she stood up, and went out for work, sad and tired..