My Safe Haven

Every time there’s a certain void, I experience spine-chills. Terrified, I close my eyes to calm myself. There it is. My ‘safe haven.’ It isn’t a ‘place’ but usually a seamless memory tape that I hold close to my heart.

‘I’m four or so. Everything seems to be beyond my comprehension. I hear the patter of the raindrops falling on the surface. The musty smell of petrichor fills my nose. It’s a dull afternoon with no sign of the sun and the skies oozing of melancholy. I see an image…an image of the wooden door to my grandmother’s house. I’m standing under the shade waiting for the door to open. It seems to be an endless wait. I stand there in front of the door with a lot of questions and no answers.’

This memory keeps coming back to me time and again. Is it because I miss her? Is it because she left us before I could know what she thought of me? Is it the ‘vulnerable me’ seeking strength from the brave woman who fought all odds by herself?

Before I can observe more, my mind moves on to the second instalment of the memory tape. Though I remember this well, I can’t quite place why this is close to my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hear the screeching metal of the rusty swing as it moves back and forth… the sporadic shrill screeches of the see-saw. There are chirpy children running around laughing and playing. I’m in my kindergarten-cum-creche. Unlike other children who are playing, I’m sitting in a corner observing them with my tiny little eyes…having found comfort in solitude.’  

I recall that it was a daily routine. The teachers made repeated complaints to my parents about my introverted nature. And my parents kept worrying about why I didn’t ‘mingle’ with anyone. The way I saw it, the creche was a dungeon to me. It was a prison and it didn’t matter if I made friends with the jailor or my prison mates. I wanted freedom. I wanted to get out of there. And this, I guess was from where my introverted nature stemmed. 

Fast forward…

This memory keeps coming back to me time and again. Is it because I miss her? Is it because she left us before I could know what she thought of me? Is it the ‘vulnerable me’ seeking strength from the brave woman who fought all odds by herself?

Before I can observe more, my mind moves on to the second instalment of the memory tape. Though I remember this well, I can’t quite place why this is close to my heart.

‘I’m standing on the pavement waiting to use the pedestrian crossing. I can feel the scorching heat beating down on me. The incessant honking of the vehicles and the jarring music in a bus is driving me bonkers. Adding to the cacophony is the constant hammering of rods in a nearby construction site. Amidst all this chaos, there’s a faint smile on my face and a twinkle in my eyes.’

It was the first time I took a bus journey to a far-off place unaccompanied. It was special to me. These were my baby steps to come out of the cocoon I was living inside. Thinking of it now, the whole episode seems trivial. But that day, I felt elated. During the entire bus journey, I was making a mental note of items I could cross off the bucket list that I made as a child. The journey was unfettering in an indescribable way.

 The memory tape ends and I open my eyes feeling revived and having found a new source of strength inside me.

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