I’m not big on photographs, much to the annoyance of some folks around me. I have a different way of documenting my memories. Scraps of paper with last-minute reminders and notes-to-self, counterfoils of play/movie/train tickets, paintings, warm words from an old friendship, sticky notes with random finds of words, etc. form my world.
For 18 years, the wall over my study table was my canvas. I tacked up every memory I wanted to retain. Phone numbers that I wanted to remember and should have remembered; addresses that I was too lazy to move to a permanent spot in my organizer; and words of a warm friendship, which I wish I had preserved more carefully.
It began with a black poster that my parents picked up at a photography exhibition by Raj Thackeray. They had picked it up on a whim coz they thought it would add color to my otherwise white-walled room. I trashed that poster a fortnight ago with a heavy heart – it had gone all holey thanks to 18 years worth of multiple tacks.
That poster, with caricatures of the leading politicians of the day, became the centerpiece of my memories. Above that, on one end, came a picture of a long-haired teenager with a small pup in her hands, a frame my mother picked up from Linking Road. At the other end, a pouting Garfield sat on a chair, exclaiming that weekends were meant for nothing! Placed between the two was a breathtaking orange sunset, painted by an old school friend. I kept meaning to get it framed but never did 😦
Next to the black poster was Dennis the Menace on a skateboard. On the other side, the mother insisted on placing an inspirational poster that read, “Do not be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
These six items remained constants. Every other piece that went up was placed around these. Inspirational quotes that caught my fancy and words that I hoped would become my mantras for life.
- There was some stray poetry
- A newspaper cutting that translated the Gayatri Mantra into English
- A note or two about what it was to be a Gemini
- A bookmark made of cloth, gifted by another old friend
- A list of my classmates in my final year of college, with their phone numbers and birthdays; forgot to take it off and it came in handy one evening when my folks couldn’t get through on my phone
- A photograph from a trip in Bhutan; a photograph while white-water rafting in Pahalgam
- Cable car tickets to the LOC and back
- Lyrics of Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For on tracing paper, sourced by the best friend just coz I happened to mention it to her one night
- A Ganapati idol crafted out of coir, brought by the uncle from Goa
- A flier from Bombay Heritage Walks
- Farewell notes from friends I said goodbye to at various crossroads of life
- Words from Lakeerein, an old play written by Gulzar and more
I took apart the entire collage when I discarded that black poster. I do not even have a picture of it. But I only have to shut my eyes, concentrate a little and I can see every item in that collage very distinctly.
It was the one arrangement that kept me anchored through the various moods and phases of life. Each time, when the words on the sheet or screen ahead of me started swimming, I only had to look up at the wall ahead of me. It spoke to me of cherished moments, bittersweet memories and warm friendships.