The box stood on the dining table, which is also my work-space, next to my laptop — an everyday place. Familiar territory. It didn’t look very big. It didn’t occupy any real physical space but it was a dim yellow like the yellow lights that make one feel feverish; massive; and depressingly hollow.
The more I filled it, the more hollow it got.
In it went that one day of living with absolutely no pain.
A holiday with my blue-eyed Sakha, the Krishna to my Krishnaa.
A time the three of us — my boys, my men and I would all be together somewhere by the sea at night with stars shining bright, and Joan Baez singing, and how I’d be held.
And he and I singing Believe loudly and walking the streets hand in hand and eating ice cream and turning on a man. And laughing because we did the laughing so well. We always laughed better than we fought.
A drive to a magical place in the weather before it rains, giant oxen staring proudly ahead and ignoring the lovers who kiss for no other reason than that it makes life simple, easy, irresistible.
Those nights of passion endless but finite, boundless and binding that I will never have again. Not that way. Not that way ever again.
Hearing a midnight voice croon a ballad and feeling the warmth upto my toes; ‘I love you’ being the last words of the night and the first words to hear in the morning.
Knowing I will never, never marry; wear red and green and bangles dotted with pearls and the simple but elegant white sari, maybe a Mallu sari; a huge red bindi on my forehead; anklets and toe rings on hennaed feet; the kumkum smeared over my forehead and looking like a tired yet triumphant Durga who finally found her purpose and saved other lives. But maybe this is a good thing.
Knowing that the blue-eyed baby will never be born, the girl with curly hair telling her mother rather sternly that she should not swear.
And that body I will never have — the one where I can reach down and kiss my own arse, look voluptuous instead of merely big and obese — that’s in the box too. Along with memories of ears I will never reach out from across the car and touch; the French beard that will never French kiss me; those perfect bow lips I had to stretch to kiss — gone, never to happen again.
I put all these desires and memories in the box and close the lid tight so I can throw it away.
My box is huge now, getting more hollow with age. Yellowish, a pale lemon. A box only I can see next to my laptop on the dining table as I work.
The box comes back. Always finds a way — bigger than before, more worn-out, looking used and ugly somehow. It blinks at me with jaundiced eyes as I work to earn a living so I can live a life. And I ignore it. But the stares continue. So I give up thinking about getting rid of it and put that thought also into my yellow box of It Won’t Happen Again.