It was some ‘o’ clock one fine night I was taking a walk in park after I had enough doses of reality and real world and my real life. I needed an escape. My idea of escape was always walks in park at night among stars. Where my imagination can run free and where stars can hear my silent stories. That night I saw an old lady crossing a street with loads of stuff in what looked like one of those wall-mart carts. She looked tired and my star-friends weren’t happy that I was chit chatting with them instead of helping. Trust me stars can get real judge-y too. So I went there to ask if she needed a hand. She seemed very happy to see me. I took the cart from her hand and asked,
“So where are you going at this time in cold winter night”
“I am ‘returning home’ actually…” she pleasantly said.
“Returning home? Where from? Do you work? ” I asked surprised by the returning time.
“From present. Yeah I work there.” She said and smiled cryptically
I was confused by the answer and figured companies, hotels, cafes do have weird names these days so well yeah may be!!
After a long pause of silence of about 10 to 15 footsteps she asked,
“So what’s your name young lady?”
“Oh, I am sorry, I am Monica.” I said feeling stupid about not introducing myself before.
“Hello Monica, I am Nostalgia” she said.
Name was strange for sure, but hey if restaurants and cafes can have strange names why not people!
“So where do you live Nostalgia” I asked to calculate how long will it take me to return to my apartment and made mental notes of all the things I left undone tonight.
“Oh just down the memory lane” she answered.
“Memory lane? I’ve lived here almost my entire life and I’ve never heard of any place called Memory lane”
“I know that’s why I am taking you there.” She answered.
Night was getting weird for sure, but anything to escape monotonous life.
After a long silent walk through chilly night we reached her place. It was named ‘Good ol’ days villa’
It was large luxurious country house, standing between a beautiful garden.
“Would you like to come in?” she courteously asked.
It was late and I had all those things to be done. But there was something very different about the house. It felt like the place I was homesick for from I don’t know how long.
So without saying anything, I just took the cart in.
Inside of the house was as beautiful as its outside. It was overflowing with lots different stuffs though. There were beautiful paintings all over the walls, paintings from really old time. There were children’s books lying all over the floor. There was ‘The jungle book’, ‘Alice in wonderland ’, and oh, ‘Winnie-the-pooh’ and my favourite, ‘The Arabian knights’ and ‘The Golden Touch’ and oh my god there was ‘Oh! The places you’ll go’.
There were piles and piles of files filled with drawings from early childhood, when drawing a stick man was kind of a big deal. Broken crayon all over the place. Lego pieces everywhere and Lego house preserved between pillows as if it was the Sistine Chapel. It was all so beautiful that I couldn’t even blink my eyes. I was just walking through the hall when I stepped on something and it made a very irritating but very familiar sound.
I jumped back and said “Oh, I am so sorry” and bent down to pick up the thing I stepped on.
“Oh don’t worry it’s just a little shoe that makes sound with every step” she said laughing.
And yeah that’s what it was. A little shoe!
It was all very alluring but just a little overwhelming given the age of the lady I just met.
“So you have any grandchildren here?” I asked. For at that time it seemed to be the only explanation for all these stuffs.
“Grandchildren? No! Why’d you ask that?” she said sounding as if I asked a totally irrelevant question.
“Oh, so whose stuff is all this?”
“Oh! It’s mine. I like keeping everything that contributed to significant period of my life. I never figured why but people call me Hoarder for this. But I feel everything here is important to me and too precious to discard” she said arranging stuff from cart in over filled cupboard.
“Boy are they wrong!!” I said.
“I know!!” She said still busy arranging.
“Why don’t you sit down for a while, and I’ll give you tour of the house later.” She said heading in to the kitchen.
While I was sitting there waiting for her to come back, all I could think about was, ‘boy this house will make a very nice place to work. I mean look at all the open space she has. And those big cupboards can hold all my important things.’ And my imaginary interior designing was interrupted by her voice.
“There you go, have some water”
I mean I’ve studied science from as long as I can speak! And I probably shouldn’t be thinking this, but the water really had amazing taste and smell!
“This water smells like my grandma’s house” I said loosing all rational control of my brain in excitement! Boy that house was my favorite vacation destination!
She giggled a little and said, “I know.”
“So? What are all these cupboards for?” I asked curious about what all they can hold for I was still imagining real utility of the house.
“Oh! Just for all my stuffs, here, come I’ll show you my favorite one” and she took my hand and took me to a small wardrobe. She opened it with so much excitement in her eyes that I waited for loads of treasure to come out!
The wardrobe was full of different school uniforms! Yeah you read that right! School uniforms!
“These are school uniforms” I said surprised and I thought she might have got the cupboard wrong!
“Yeah I know! These are all the school uniform from all the schools I ever went to.”
“What is so special about the school uniforms?”
“Everything! I mean they have most memories in them. Don’t you look at children wearing same uniform today and wonder about all the great and stupid things you did when you were in school. Besides these uniforms have stains of lunch you shared and dropped with your best friends. Ink stain from when you first started using a fountain pen! Holes from the safety pen in the identity card or the monitor batch. My love, these are probably the only dresses which came in most dorky colors and we still loved wearing them everyday because you know what? They gave us the most missed feeling of today- ‘feeling of belonging somewhere ”
I was lost in that explanation. Not a word she said was wrong and I almost pictured myself with head girl’s batch taking assembly payer on stage in those uniforms.
Soon I brought myself back to the room. Now I was quite curious about all the things in there and reason behind keeping each one of them. So my eyes caught sight of a huge closet below the stairs. And I wanted to start my tour from there. Well unless there was a little harry potter inside!
“So whats there in that closet below the stairs?”
“Ahh! You caught an amazing one.” she said getting even more excited about it
“This closet is door to a home that no longer exists or has never existed”
“A door to what now?”
She laughed really hard on my question. (In my defense, hey I am normal!) so yeah, she laughed very hard on my question and said,
“Do you think this house was only about retrospection? No my love, you see memories are not always retrospective but also perspective. It’s a way to fight against irreversibility of time and constraints of space. Tell me Monica, don’t you ever alter your past memories depending upon what your present condition is so you have a happy future? Sometimes its about forming such altered-past stories. And this door is for all such realities. Conventional confines of time and space suffocates me!”
I never thought I was kind of person who would relish ideas of Nostalgia to this extent as I never longed for things that were in the past but to confess I was enjoying this little journey to ‘Good ol’ days’
“You sound utopic sometimes” I said still holding fast to present.
“I have that dimension too” she smiled and replied.
– Monica (Smiley)