Every breath was a reminder of the silhouettes of memories that clung to me like the sonorous sounds of temple bells whose reverberation refuses to leave and envelops everything in the vicinity.
People, interactions, things—what else? People come, stay, and leave.
Interactions are like abstractions that keep replaying to fine tune themselves—why did it happen that way… If only it were different… adjusting words, sentences, situations, expecting non existent responses.
But things? I can have them, possess them. Possession gave me a sense of the truth of my existence.
The nose stud was a prized possession. My mother never allowed me to pierce my nose, but relented when I passed college and even gifted me a nose stud. It was small in size, but a victory, a coming of age, a recognition of my freedom, my body, my decisions. It was small, shaped like a little flower. The meenakari colors infused life into that little piece of gold, and that flower exuded the freshness of bloom. Always. Looking at it, adoring my nose always filled me with optimism.
And how can I forget those earrings? Those were made by remelting my mother’s old jewelry. It was a few months after she gifted me the nose stud. By this time, I’d started to work. One evening when I returned home from the office, she placed those shining chandelier design earrings in front of me. I was shocked. Where did you get the money to buy this? I asked. Then she told me about the old pieces that she gave to the jeweler who took only the making charges. She said she was preparing for my marriage. Marriage? I laughed. Who’s interested in marriage? Tears rolled from my eyes. What's the need for all these? I protested.
Working in a dream company was the icing on the cake of years of education. I felt as if I got wings and was flying to conquer the world.
At work, I met this handsome guy— at least I found him handsome. He was shy, didn’t talk much, except the usual greeting. What drew me to him was his silence and his smile. That smile was something to die for… maybe, I should say… live for.
We started to date. It was bound to happen. In fact, I was the first one to ask him out on a coffee date, in the cafe near the office corner. And we hardly spoke! Our conversation of silence had more powerful bonds than if we had spent time chatting. We understood each other. Over the weeks we opened up, but speaking was never the priority, it was just the presence, the awareness of being together, of holding hands.
Maybe it was my mother’s prayers, or a matter of destiny. One evening when office was over and we were still at the staircase landing, and there was no one around, he went down on his knees and took out a little box from his pocket. The choice of the setting where he proposed made me cackle with laughter. He got up quickly, held my hands and as we came out from the building, whispered “Marry me.”
It makes me sad that now, I don’t have the ring in my possession. I’ve searched for it a lot, sometimes spending hours trying to get a glimpse of it.
But whatever, it was a few more months and we got married. It was a small ceremony— whatever we could afford, with a little circle of relatives and few friends.
There are so many memories of marriage —the bright sarees, the designs of the zari works that gave a sparkle to the shine of the silk, the aroma of food, and the tastes of various sweets.
One important part of the marriage was the mangal-sutra, the thread of celestial bond between two souls. And this one had a pendant with an image of us together.
I happened to find this after so many years that I was overcome with emotions. I was holding it, and had just opened the pendant to see that image.
Our happiness of marriage did not last. A few months after marriage, one evening, when it was late and we were walking through a dark stretch, I felt a sharp, heavy thud on my head. As if a thousand Suns shone their brightness in my eyes, and then, with intense pain, the brightness receded to darkness. It was so sudden.
“See that hawk on the wall…” Someone shouted.
Yes, they could easily spot me perched on the wall with the mangal-sutra necklace. Before anyone could come near me, I clutched the necklace in my claw tightly and flew away. No one could stop me this time. No one could snatch away my memories, my things.
I saw a hawk follow me, and I dodged it on the flight.
I flew high, till those people were forgettable dots on the earth. I soared high in happiness. I could overlook the regrets and just be happy. Sometimes, we need to forget the bad memories and remember just the good ones. I flew until I reached my nest on the tall tree by the river.
There lay my little collection of the nose-stud, and ear-rings secured under a layer of hay and twigs. And now the mangal-sutra joined them.
That hawk seemed to have found me and was hovering over the tree. I was ready. I could fight for my memories, for my possessions. It flew down and sat on the other end of a long branch of the tree. It removed something from its claw, held it in its beak, and then slowly came near and laid down whatever it was, then it took a few steps back and waited.
The hawk didn’t look threatening, and I went near to see the thing. It was the same finger-ring. I could feel it was him. We had found each other.