The door always had a problem. You need a knack to open it. Spending all your energy, turning it left and right wont do, you need pull the door tight and whisper “open . . open.. else I’ll start swearing at you. .” And then, as it tests your patience, you hear a feeble click and it opens itself before you. .
A rather small room on the third floor of my home. Its a bit odd to have an entrance from the front of the veranda but this had one isolating the third floor. Since it was three storeyed high and there were’nt many houses in neighbourhood then, it used to be like the light house of the area. Through the window we could trace everybodys’ move. I could see my neighbour running after her hens or the kids from the house at the end of the lane playing hopscotch. If its early morning, you could see the newspaper guy flinging papers in one practiced and perfected fluid motion. And at night, the conversations from the near by homes or tv serials back to back. The best part of the house was this third floor which has an open court at the centre. Laying down on the floor looking at the sky, humming some old tune, is one of an exotic experience.
Its been ages since I’ve come here. As usual, like everybody else I too have my reasons. Primarily I have shifted to a new house and rented the old one. Then the fact that I had been working at different places made me stay mostly at hostels. Moreover I did not find any urgent reason to come here. We all have excuses for getting caught up in the cobwebs of life.
Argh!! This darn thing!! I was about to mutter a word or two and I hear tiny click bringing a smile to my face. Old habits die hard. My hands inadvertently start fumbling for the switches on the left. The tube flickers like a candle for few seconds and then a white light sweeps the room bringing every object alive. The showcase pieces, an open wardrobe, my study table, the bathroom which looks like a cupboard from outside. It looks like a painting from the past century. And yet again, I feel a strong sense of bonding with this room. Home is where the heart is. .
This used to be my world. The room always had a weird arrangement, since it was a tad smaller than the normal bedrooms, the bed is placed right in front of the door leaving as little gap so as to just open the door. A dusty old bed on a grand traditional cot. Those cots with carvings on the rail and the legs. As I sat on the bed, it gave me the same old welcome creak. A feeling of nostalgia swept over me. I could almost hear the arguments, the laughter, even the tears, the moments of desperation or euphoria, see a younger me, with my siblings, leaning over the window. The table sprang back to life as I drew random lines over the thin film of dust. The glass shelf was stacked with dusty porcelain figures, most of which were gifts from classmates and college mates. The loft had all our text-books and other irrelevant things of our school days. Gone are those days when we used to fall asleep and drool over the textbooks, scribble flowers over the most boring pages or perhaps play cross and zero.
A clink sound interrupted my train of thoughts. The keys had fallen from my hand. As I bend down to take them, I see a dusty carton. I made myself comfortable on the ground, and pull the box from beneath. This looks unfamiliar to me, may be my mother had packed somethings meant for give-away or trash. As I open it, I see an old, hardbound brown book. It was my autograph book. In a fraction of a second, I was transported back to the last day of college when I would dolefully lend the book to someone to write a few lines. The writings have started to fade already and I’m reminded of the cliché line”Time flies.”.
Among other things in the carton, there was a small purse. It was filled with knickknacks, collectibles, bits of papers, bright colored threads and things which at a glance would seem of no value. And something blue catches my eye instantly. My eyes gleamed when I saw one of my priced possessions, the blue-porcelain tea set. I marveled at the dainty miniature set. It was a beauty, tiny white glistening pieces, may be a little bigger than your nail, with ornate intricate blue designs. Cups, saucers, tea pot,sugar and milk vase with their lids. I had always admired the artisan who had the patience to make this. I slowly sift through the bits of papers in the purse. Most of them were chits passed during the lecture hours, to so many people at different times and classes. In it were random words, silly fights, or complete ridiculousness.
There were train tickets too. Adrenaline kicked, cherished journeys I made in the past. Bright colored friendship bands. A huge transparent crystal which was given as a gift, few key chains, a dried acorn and dry leaves, a sea green colored tiny bottle, a huge brown shell with my name on it, an odd shaped earing, a stick man made from multi-colored wires. The list goes on. The carton had few more things I treasured, an cd player and a box of cds. Songs for which I danced my heart out in this room. A coin album, a calligraphy set. and a leaflet of cartoons somebody had drawn for me. I had walked down a rainbow of memories and this was just like a pot of gold, at the end of it. As a souvenir from the good old days.
I could hear my name being called from downstairs. Time has come for me to go. . Before I leave, I take one more look at my world. Turn off the lights, and lock the door. And give the golden handle a soft pat and whisper “I’ll come back again. .”