The album peeking out from under the pile of books caught my attention the minute I picked up the heap of clothes beside the pile. Dumping the heap on my bed, I snatched out the album from under the pile and made my way towards my favourite spot beside the window. I gingerly leafed through the pages, now turned yellow with dust and age, having captured years’ worth of memories. It wasn’t merely an album of pictures, it was hundreds of feelings wrapped up in a single shot. It was like a drug, like a trigger, which once released, pulls you back and haunts you with reminiscences of a childhood lost too soon.
The book fell open to a random page and the uppermost picture was of a jar of cookies, and my mind pulled me back towards that day spent, coated in flour and joy. My grandmother had tied my hair into long pigtails and I had been allowed to wear an apron for the first time of my life that day. Standing silently beside my grandma, I watched her soft, wrinkled hands perform magic and the room slowly filled with the tenderness of her hugs and the sound of our mingled laughter.
The image of a locket clasped in my tiny hand, on the next page, brought back a vivid memory of a day spent in anticipation and forlorn emptiness. My fifth birthday saw me waking up to disappointment; my mother was not at home. The morning passed away with me standing by the window, clutching the window sill, hopeless with worry and anxiety. Who’d kiss my forehead before the party began, and who would bring the cake? That leap of excitement I took when my mother finally emerged through the doors was talked about for days in my family. I bounded into her arms and went giddy with excitement when I saw that she had a present, as well as a cake in her hands. Setting both aside, she picked me up, face alight with a rapture I’ve seen only on mothers. The locket she gave me that day is still with me, probably having gathered dust by now, lying around in some corner I had never bothered to notice.
I kept turning the pages, my eyes now hungry for something, anything, which might spark up the emotions I hadn’t been through since long. The book fell open to a snap of me in costume, standing on stage in a long line of kids, all bowing down after the play as the audience stood up, applauding. I wondered what was so special about that day, considering how I had messed up the lines, pushed a kid and basically ruined all chances of me ever getting up on stage again. Yet, my father had walked up to me after the play, a proud grin showing on his face, never letting on for a single second that I had slipped, that I had not been good enough. That ice-cream after the show hadn’t meant much then, but now, it seems to speak volumes. It tells me that whatever I do, as long as it’s the best I can do, will always be appreciated and accepted.
I shut the album and thought about all the recent fights I had been getting into. Mental battles with suppressed feelings and hidden meanings. A snide comment here and a mocking grin there and how this had led to such a void in my relationship with the people who matter in life. I looked at my phone, buzzing with notifications, and the person I had become, lifeless and drained and apathetic, with a noose tied around my neck. I glanced back at the album, which had somehow evoked as much as it had left unsaid. I closed my eyes, leaned my head against the window, and tried desperately to cling to my past life for a few more seconds.