I'm talking about my study table drawer. And the study table that housed it, warmly and snugly.
That table bore my diaries bearing reams and reams of my poetry, text books, tomes on mythology and various versions of the Mahabharata (am an avid world mythology and Mahabharata buff), poetry books, multi-coloured pens, and so so much more, with smiling patience and quiet strength. It would hold my cup of milk and plate of fruits, my constant breakfast for years, for me as I got ready for school/work.
The study table that was part of my growing up years and teen years when I was in Bangalore. Where I used to do my homework and not study. Where I sat for hours with the cordless phone and gossiped with friends and flirted with 'then' boyfriends. Where I shared many a kiss with my first boyfriend who used to sit there and write my name in calligraphy, over and over again. Where I sobbed my eyes out into my folded arms after many a tiff with Maa-Janoni, many a heartache, many lost dreams and crushes that were crushed. Where I poured my heart out in anguished rhyme and angsty blank-verse.
All my precious treasures were kept under lock-and-key in that drawer. Letters, photographs, knick-knacks, scraps of poetry, ciggie boxes and other bits and pieces of myself. I've carried the key around with me obssessively from city to city; to Delhi where I did my B.A. and M.A., to Bombay after I got married and finally to Kolkata where I still am.
My desk sat pretty in 'my' pretty, pink bedroom in Bangalore, waiting for my touch, my hello, my mere presence...like a true, long dear friend. And like the good, faithful friend that she was, she kept all my secrets to herself, never for a moment, ever betraying my counsel.
Two years ago, she was shipped to Kolkata along with my parent's belongings and now she sits in a corner of Daddy Dearest's study, proudly displaying his heavy tomes of law and Bengali literature, writing paraphernalia, spare set of specs, notepads, his precious fountain pen, a picture of the Goddess of Learning, his wallet, letters...oh, I could go on and on! There's just so much of his personality spilling over it and from it.
Except from the drawer. That drawer is all mine, all me. It holds a part of me that's been locked away for almost five years now.
Daddy Dearest and Maa-Janoni have been after me to open the drawer for over a year now. Obviously. Daddy Dearest needs to use it. They've even threatened to call a locksmith to break it open and change the lock. I keep telling them I'll get to it, but I just keep putting it off.
I don't know why. Because it holds a part of my youth, safely and carefully tucked away from the prying eyes of the world? Because there are things in there that I don't want my family to see or that I am not ready to see again? Or is it me? Am I afraid to get all mushy and sentimental about my youth which I realise is well and truly over? Am I afraid to kiss 'goodbye' to my good ol' days? I don't know why. Maybe I'm just not ready.
Until today that is. Maa-Janoni is in Kerala, sight-seeing with a friend and Daddy-Dearest is in Bangalore, returning sometime at night. I promised my Maa-Janoni that I'd drop by and water the plants and do the puja on her behalf. After dropping the boys off at school, I went over and did the needful.
I then stood staring at my faithful friend for the past so many years. I decided to relieve her of my secrets and treasure, that she has so faithfully held on to for so long.
It was like opening a Pandora's box. Memories flew about my head. I spent the next hour laughing, crying and smiling over the cards, letters and posts written to my by friends and loves, many now lost, some still a part of my life, older and wiser. I found little gifts and hand-made pincushions (made by my hand), bits of poetry written on scraps of paper, old photographs of the ex before the MIM, letters from his parents, an empty cigarette carton, a book of stickers (I used to love collecting them), a book I bought just before the wedding "How to Love Your Man" (blush! blush!), pens and so much more of a me I had forgotten.
The trip down Memory Lane was bittersweet. I am surrounded by an air of nostalgia about me. All I need right now is a cup of latte with an old friend to take that walk with.
They're all so far away.
I guess I'll go solo on that latte. I have many letters left to be read...
Edited to add: I did go out for that latte after all, and not solo, like I thought. I had the glorious pleasure of my YO's company and together we got gooey over a chocolaty doughnut and my foamy, frothy latte!