Saturday, September 02, 2017

Small, Rectangle And Blue

If you climbed past the narrowing staircase, crossed the brick flooring, past the long rooms filled with assorted memorabilia and its peeling walls with cracks covered over with old calendars bearing garish images of Saraswathi and Lakshmi who bear suspicious resemblance to the film stars of those years, you might find somewhere in a corner a blue tin box.

I don't know what colour it must have been originally, but someone must have thought to paint over it in teal blue. Its colours matched the walls around it which suggest that the left over paint from the walls must have been dabbed on to the box. Perhaps no one thought to move the box as the paintwork was being carried out and by the time it was finished, perhaps it was covered with dripping that they spread it around until it was blue all over.

Some two feet long and about a foot wide, this box became mine when I was about ten years old.
And in order to establish ownership, I wrote my name down on its side in indelible pen. Over the next few years it would become the receptacle that held my worldly possessions. Notebooks, diaries, hair clips, report cards, certificates, birthday cards, wallets with a few desultory coins and much later a stack of love letters exchanged between a friend and her then boyfriend given to me to keep for fear of being discovered by her parents. I once peeked inside them a found rough scribblings in brown ink which my friend later confessed was blood. They were consigned to the bin soon thereafter, much like their love affair, I imagine.

Soon we will be moving into a sprawling house whose empty halls echo with the sound of nothingness. I've been shopping to fill it with the noise of our lives. Clutter that quietly boasts deep wallets and an emergence from our former conservative, middleclass selves. The box would have no place here and yet on some days I find myself recalling with deep affection its sharp edges, its peeling paint, its rusty surface and an easy life that could be tidied away in a blue tin box.

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