AN ARCHIVE OF ALL THE PEOPLE I’VE EVER LOVED

 

My mother often tells me that the size of my life is that of my room. I do agree with her, but we both perceive this size in two very different ways. To her, it’s small, enclosed, confining. To me, my room is an archive of all the people I’ve ever loved. My room is the size of my heart- it’s big.

About a decade ago, the thought of there being someone whom I  could not see in my room used to be haunting. But now, the knowledge of them being in every corner of my room feels comforting.

A huge part of my life belongs within the bindings of my books. Along with the sense of me loving the fictional realm more than reality, I always believed that there is more than just pages trapped between those bindings.

On the top shelf of my bookcase is my favourite piece of literature, a book that my best friend gave to me. On the first page is a note that she wrote- it won’t be dishonest if I say that I love it more than my favourite piece of literature. There’s another book that she gave me. It’s been over a year and I haven’t read it- I get to hear taunts quite often, I laugh them off all the time. One of the books is a little crumpled on its edges- it had gotten dampened in my bag on one of the rainy days. The last scene I read before closing the book to step in the rain was about rain. I like to think of it as a beautiful coincidence, and I have a white flower from the same day pressed on that page to remember it.

There’s a poetry book on my nightstand that is never moved away. It’s a gift that I received from my friend not long ago, and somewhere between those pages is a bookmark that the same friend made. It’s a collection of Poe’s poetry, someone my best friend introduced me to because her favourite poem is written by him. He’s become my favourite poet now.

One of the books has a luggage tag from my favourite vacation, another holds a folded proof of ‘what happens when two friends are bored in class’. One has a paper ring, flattened now. It must’ve uncovered what I meant when I said that my books are the haven of many memories.

There are a lot of flowers hidden in my room. Some are pressed between the inked parchments of books, one has turned into a bookmark, and one hides at the back of my closet. There’s a paper bouquet too — being one of my most cherished gifts by a certain someone.

There’s a portrait of my favourite singer made by my friend kept on the same shelf where a plaque of my favourite song by the same singer stands. There’s a picture of us on it too- me and my two best friends- one of them drifted apart, but still crosses our minds whenever that song plays. There’s a small box on that shelf, it has notes with lyrics from my favourite songs- it’s adorned with flowers as well.

When asked, I often say that my favourite place to be is the middle of the ocean. There’s a shell keychain hung at my door — it makes me feel closer to the ocean. My bag is the home to a lot of keychains actually — a kangaroo that my grandmother brought from Australia, one from Singapore, one with a snake, and one of my initials that my childhood best friend got for me over 10 years ago. I remember he had a similar one with his initials. There’s one that’s treasured inside my drawer for I’m too scared to lose it- a friend and I, both Marvel fans, wanted to get matching Spider Man bracelets but couldn’t find any, so we got keychains instead. There’s a phone charm tied to my phone case- my friends and I made it together. Putting the beads onto the string felt equivalent to the act of fabricating a disaster.

There’s a bracelet wrapped around my wrist at this moment. It’s a present from my best friend’s mother, the belonging of mine that my heart reveres the most. To wear it is to feel loved, to be in the shade of mother’s love. I have a ring that once belonged to my friend, she gave it to me because I loved it so much. There is a case which contains all the friendship bracelets and rakhis I’ve ever received, tangled amongst one another. Borrowing my friend’s bracelet at school has turned into an everyday routine — we both love the stars on it; and as I tell her my plans to steal it, we both laugh. We share  love for space — the moon, stars and Saturn especially. There’s a painting of Saturn on my wall, and there is one on hers as well.

There’s a wrapper of my favourite chocolate that my friend and I shared in the front pocket of my school bag. I didn’t feel like throwing it in the moment- I wonder if I ever will, I doubt if I ever will.

There’s a red box at the top of my closet, blue ink on top. It holds 25 reasons why my friend loves me. To say that my heart warms up every time I read them would be to restrain the amount of times I seek solace in it.

The camera in my drawer isn’t just mine. It holds the memories of every place I’ve mapped with my beloveds, it holds the love of every moment that I’ve spent with my beloveds. I believe they love it more than I do. That camera isn’t just mine — I don’t like to call it just mine; It belongs to every person who had a chance to be captured in it.

There are albums in that drawer too. There’s one from my early days, one from my sister. There’s a folder which preserves my sister’s belongings — the cards that she makes me, her DIYs, her pictures, everything for her to grow up and find safe, without having to regret losing them for she was too young to care.

The box that nests all the year diaries that my grandfather used to give me occupies the top of my bookshelf — a wedding invitation box that I found a little too pretty. Diary entries from my early childhood which I decided to maintain, only to fail 6 days after the year began. There’s one that recites the first poem I ever wrote and another that reads 2021 in its title — the last diary my grandfather had ever given to me. There’s a diary that my best friend’s mother gave me. It has flowers, and I write poems in it.

I often wonder about the future. The near future when I’ll have to relocate. Would I ever be able to pack my whole room, my whole life, into a mere suitcase?

My dad’s Crocs lay on the floor beside me. I find myself wearing them quite often, for I usually forget where I keep mine. I realize that the option won’t exist outside of these 4 walls. My cousin and I love the same kind of shoes and it’s exciting when we both wear them together — we point at each other’s shoes every time. Will she remember this in the same way I think of her every time I wear them? And what use would my coding certificate kept in my grandfather’s closet have if I’m away and unable to fix every bug in his and my grandmother’s phone and computer?

I remember a friend once remarked that my perfume was nice. They didn’t realise it was the same perfume they gave to me as a present on my last birthday; How would they remember the scent once I leave?

There’s a puzzle in my drawer that I haven’t touched in years. It’s the same puzzle my cousin had when we were younger. We’ve grown apart now, I wonder if I’d wish to take that puzzle along when it’s finally time.

I’m sitting on the floor as I write this. Floors have always felt like home — a habit that feels too unusual to be shared, but it’s what me and one of my friends have always bonded over. But to carry it along is beyond a possibility.

To carry a life the size of a room is beyond possibility.

My life is the size of my room.
My room is an archive of all the people I’ve ever loved.
My life is an archive of all the people I’ve ever loved.

— Madhav Ahuja

All in all, Madhav loves loving, and associating people and things to one another is a hobby that he picked up as a child- something that he hopes never changes. He quotes Madeline Miller, “I am made of memories.”

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