Chhavi stood at the golden sand of the beach in Goa. It was her much-awaited vacation. The long break that she needed to phase out the mundane errands of her life. As the waves touched her feet, a tingling ran through every vein, not leaving an ounce of her body.
She picked up a shell that the waves had brought along. Beautiful it was. Golden-brown patterns drew beautifully on the immaculate white of the shell. After examining it for some time, she put it close to her ear. Truly divine. The feeling of liveliness rushed through her body as she heard the sound of the entire sea in the shells.
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She had once heard that when you put a shell close to your ear and shut everything else, you can hear the sound of entire sea. This shell seemed to be speaking the language of her soul.
She took the shell and put it into her skirt’s pocket. She would later keep it on the book shelf in her home. This shell would remind her of a lot of things, of this beautiful Goa vacation. She walked toward the pier, which was now almost vacant. After a long day & beautiful tan, most of the tourists had gone back. Chhavi was among the last few on this beach.
She proceeded toward the pier that was visible from a distance. As she walked, the wet sand filled in her toes and it felt so comforting; so soft. She turned around. Looked at her footprints on the sand. Some visible, others eradicated from the waves rushing to make it first to the bank. She reached the pier and made herself comfortable at the edge of it.
Lost in her thoughts, she looked at the sinking sun. Last few tourists were making their way back to the banks after an adventurous surfing. The water was shimmering gold and the sky was a palette of colours-orange, pink, red, purple and yellow. It almost felt like the sun was melting into water.
The horizon felt far, too far. She thought about her footprints that she waited to see earlier and the W.B. Yeats’ poetry came rushing to her mind. What was it like?
“THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,
Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.”
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Almost on instinct, she drifted back to the lane that is mostly forbidden – the lane of her past. There were some old shops of memories- some good, some bad. She wanted some of these shops to shut down forever. But that wasn’t possible now. These were the shops of her past. But the wounds that they gave to her were now so comforting. It almost felt like they were healed. Yet at the slightest of triggering, they oozed blood. But they were nice. Even the bad memories were nice. They made her feel how long she had come. She no longer recognized her younger self.
This was The Shop of First Crush. The memories came rushing back. She almost felt like being there. Standing there again. This was also the first man in her life. She entered this shop of first crush memories.
She wandered in this shop. Looked at the first kiss incident. It was in a car, when she & that man were waiting for her sister’s annual function to get over, so they could pick her from her school. He had almost felt the urge to kiss her. And he did. But that was without any intimidation. And, it came more like a shock than pleasure. She remembers him getting offended at her reaction. The relation didn’t last long.
She wanders to another shelf of this shop. Stands there. This shelf hurts. She remembers when she was travelling in the Metro one day when she heard he was dead. She didn’t love him anymore, yet it came as a blow. Why, she doesn’t remember! May be, because she had shared a part of her life with him, even if it was for a few months. Lost love it was. And now, also dead.
She moved ahead. Want to take something to your present life, a voice echoed. She just smiled. “No, thank you very much.”
She drifted out of this shop.
In the next lane, stood the second shop. The Shop of First True Love. This, she dreaded the most. It was the most hurting one. Yet, she decided to enter it. She had admired every bit of it. Still, this one somehow made her heart bleed the most. It was the most depressing phase of her life.
She wandered in the shop. Shelves of laughter & sorrows, happiness & tears, blush & break-ups were sitting here- looking at her with eyes wide open.
Here is the shelf of their first meeting. She walks calmly through this shelf. She is now married. And happy. She looks at it. She almost feels like he is looking at her walk away. She looks at him. Careful. She manages to pass a smile. A friendly one. She should now be going. William Shakespeare speaks at the back of her mind, “to be or not to be, that was the question.”
“Just go,” says her mind.
“Why?” says her heart, “what is common now?”
“The past,” her mind says.
She walks away from this shelf. Takes a turn and reaches the one where she doesn’t want to linger anymore. This was the most confusing shelf. She didn’t understand what happened here. How they fell apart. May be, it wasn’t meant to happen.
She smiled. A feeble laughter may be. Every time she enters here, she feels so heavy.
She tried coming out of this shop of memories. Want to take something to your present life, a voice echoed again. She just smiled again. “No, thank you very much.”
This is the third shop of memories. She wants to be here. It is most comforting. This is the shop of endless memories that she is still counting. The Shop of Soul Mate. It is here she met the man she is married to. She walks past all the shelves with a twinkle in her eyes. This is the shelf of their first meeting. It was almost entreated, she remembers. She wanted to see him more than her. And he had agreed. This felt almost surreal. Like the love at first sight.
She smiled. Then, walked towards their engagement day. His smile is still fresh in her mind. She doesn’t remember seeing anyone else. It was her own world. Just the two of them. Rest had vanished, she remembers this.
The shelf of courtship is the most delicate. She doesn’t want to touch it. The memories here are fragile. But precious. She dusts them off. Admires them. And, keeps them there, again. She will re-visit the shop once again to see these memories.
She comes out of this shop of memories. Want to take something to your present life, a voice echoed again. She smiles. “This is the recent past. Still, No, thank you very much. I will create more memories & will come back to keep them on the shelves here. Make space.”
She decides to come out of this lane of Old Shops of Memories. She will re-visit them again someday. She will come back to this lane when she had made time for herself, like today. She comes back to her present, but looks at a girl standing on the lane of Old Shops of Memories.
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The girl refuses to come out. Chhavi calls her. She assures her they’ll go this lane together. She is her younger self. She is still stubborn. She still wants what she has decided. And she still sometimes drifts back to these old shops. But Chhavi knows that she will not linger there longer. She will have to come out. She also knows that these are the shops of memories that have made her what she is today. After 10 years, she will again come back here; only to find not recognizing her own self, once again.