I woke up this morning with a bad migraine. The wall clock announced the time as 6 am. Looking at the toddler sleeping beside me, I felt guilty. Yesterday had been an extremely depressing day for me. The editing part of the first novel has been pending for quite a while. The boy had been falling sick quite frequently for the past one month. Last week he had come down with viral flu and had to be confined inside the house for the whole week. Yesterday he wanted to go to the nearby play zone quite badly. Fear of an infection again made me discard the idea. When every mode of trying to make him understand failed, I yelled at him. My son is generally a very sensible kid and so, I try to be as gentle with him as possible. The sleepless nights for the past few days and the slack in my working schedule finally got on my nerves and I vented it out on the hapless boy last evening. I regretted it immediately and apologized to him. I don’t think he even remembered the incident when I put him to sleep last night but I stayed up feeling extremely annoyed with myself. Few drops of tears ran down my cheeks at this moment as I ruffled his hair. That’s when I saw the writing on his magic slate. It read,
Today is your last day on Earth. You have ten hours left and so go ahead and do whatever you want to.
The countdown to say goodbye has already begun.
P.S. – This is not a joke.
I read the message couple of times to ensure that this was not a prank on me. I tried deleting it by pressing the delete button above the writing area on the slate. The words were still prominently visible. It took me a while to understand what was happening. I was going to die and had only a few hours to savor my last moments on this planet.
Looking at my toddler and husband sleeping peacefully, I started shedding silent tears. Oblivious to the grief ahead, they were cuddled up. To get a grip on my emotions, I decided to walk out of the room towards the balcony. My father had arrived here a couple of weeks back to spend some time his grandson. I saw him reading the newspaper in the sitting room while passing through this area. After my toddler started school, I rarely had the luxury of spending time appreciating the beauty of nature. But today I decided to relish every single moment.
This Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the alarm bell again. I had forgotten to turn it off over the weekend. It was only 7 am which meant I still had the luxury of sleeping for another hour. My normal working hours begin post-mid-night after my toddler goes to bed and stretches till wee hours of the morning which makes me grab every extra minute in the morning to catch up on my sleep. While locking the mobile, I realized that there was a missed call icon. With trembling fingers, I dialed one of the two most important persons in my household and soon my worst fears came true. My cook had stretched her leave without permission to one more day. This was going to be the fourth consecutive day of her playing truant. I shuddered at the thought of the other important person planning her leave in the same sequence next week. My maid was a huge believer in the tit-for-tat theory and together these two could give me a cardiac arrest any time soon.
I got out of the bed worried about the distressing day. The tornado aka my toddler was turning out to be quite a night owl like both his parents and had maintained his record of staying up till 12 30am last night. So I knew he was going to wake up a little late today. As I was preparing to share the shocking news to my husband, it was a surprise to see him come towards me with outstretched hands. I was wondering if India has won the England test (that’s the only thing he seems to be worried about these days). Instead, he greeted me with a smile and “Happy friendship day”. We have been friends for over two decades now including the years of dating and seven years of being officially married. Of course with time, our conversations have started including grocery lists, our toddlers’ antics and many other typical Indian household topics. Yet I rush to him at the slightest of positive ideas and difficulties till date. I hugged him as another bright idea dawned on me for handling the situation today. “Let’s celebrate our friendship by ordering lunch from 6, Ballygunje Place today.” I could feel the frustrated sigh coming out of his soul which I conveniently chose to ignore.
I was sipping my morning tea when the mobile kept beeping because of the multiple friendship day messages that kept getting delivered. More than 90 percent were forwards that kept getting recycled again in various watsapp groups. I checked my inbox to see if the two people I consider my closest friends had bothered to send a wish. Honestly I knew that none of us really cared for such formalities since our friendship went beyond years. AT and RK live in two different parts of the world now – London and Sydney respectively. I have met them at different phases of life yet our friendships have managed to survive changing times, countries and situations.
In my apartment in Kolkata, there are inanimate objects in every room but the story in my bedroom is completely different and extremely personal. An item that can best be described as a piece of my heart royally occupies the area near the left corner of my queen sized bed. It is always the first item that I wake up to every morning and is again the last thing I see before I calling it a day. Every person in my family has an emotional attachment to it but for me, it is the source and reason of my existence.
Despite spending so much time with it, there’s always a range of emotions that arise within me every time I lay my eyes on it. Sometimes it’s nostalgia, at times it brings about a feeling of pain but more often than not it is that of utter helplessness. The colors of my childhood and the happiness of my adult years have been kept guarded in this single item. It is all that remains of a by-gone era for me and my family.