Written by Rania Ahmed
(Featured image by Fatima Shah)
Adorned notebook pages (and some disgracefully empty), savoured letters, moments now residing only in frail pictures, movie tickets and concert tickets and grocery lists and – this list is already too long.
I am sitting in the middle of my life. Usually it isn’t so easy – usually there is running and avoiding and collapsing. But today I can look at those safely tucked Eid Mubarak envelopes and know that though they were in a deep, distanced corner of my drawer for years, away from my confused Ramadans and half-hearted family greetings, Eid is close again.
In the unfitting expanse of my tiny drawer I find perhaps my most treasured envelope; enhanced with calligraphy and holding inside it words that sound like calligraphy. It is a letter my english teacher wrote to me in 6th grade, mentioning (as if it was something so casual) that my writing helped her access her feelings. I realise now, reading back, that I have absorbed those words as if they slid up through an ink pen and stained my skin forever.
The Mahogany Teakwood scent is probably somewhat intoxicating, because even ordinary receipts feel as though candle wax has seeped into them and immortalised them as birth-givers of Victorian romance. I imagine looking back at them decades later, and triple the nostalgia already begins to sneak into my head. I allow my heart to grasp onto it.
My 2010-dated journal entries are so rustic I barely recognise them. I have written of dreams I had long forgotten about, and of people I pretend to forget about. Funny, no part of me yearns for them to be back – just for the fondness to linger forever. (Of course it will, my brain drizzles upon every face it passes and clears the air around them.) I wonder how I can so easily detach myself from people like a weak magnet from a fridge, yet at the same time spend nights thinking of the colors the fields were shaded. I cannot fathom answers; instead I wait for my silver journals to be tarnished.
The pages stay scattered in the corner of my room the entire day, and the candle stays burning. My mom comes in and notes that the Mahogany Teakwood has started to smell more like plain fire, that the scent is getting old, that it’s clutching her nostrils and making her head dizzy. I don’t know how to tell her I have spent the day loving what has grown old. I can’t let the flames disappear already.
When Craydon asks me my favourite emotion, unaware of my day’s dwellings, I cannot help my amusement at the universe’s antics. I tell him I live in dreadful anticipation of the present gliding away from my stretched fingertips, banks of the past and the future. Hana says anticipation is her favourite emotion.
I think my body has also learned to ponder with me. My heart doesn’t let me miss a thing in my daily journal, my fingernails protect scraped nail polish, and my eyes view my knees only as vessels to jhoo jhoo maayan even now, long after Subul has stopped needing to grasp onto them.
Simultaneously, the back of my neck itches if my hair grows out an inch too long.