I sat there at the dentist’s office the other day where I saw this baby girl, not more than two running around waiting to see her dad and smile and jump like the rest of us weren’t there. While to her mother, the laughs and the mischief’s were nothing more than cacophony, I looked at the girl in the eye and smiled. Maybe because I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t so tired when I got home from university that I wanted to collapse or because I can’t remember the last time I was excited to see my parent just because they are my parent. I can’t remember the last time I smiled like that, like the world ceased to exist in between the snorts of the laughter. Yes, I’m talking about the absolutely ugly laugh that would cause people to turn around annoyed half angry that I was disturbing them and the other half envying me that I had a reason to be just that happy.
I can’t remember when I got so practical. I’m trying to pinpoint the exact moment when the child inside me left my soul like it was never there. Growing up wasn’t supposed to be so harsh. I can’t remember when the idea of a fairy tale that was ingrained in my mind left to believe that at the end of the day maybe surviving was enough. The occasional Harry Potter helped to let me keep believing in magic but I wonder if that’s enough right now. I can’t remember when the cynic inside me arose either to engulf the girl who’d always look out for the best in people. I can’t remember why I never tried to find my way back to her.
I can’t remember when leaving the house after 8 became so unsafe that most days you’d never consider it unless you’d absolutely have to. We weren’t supposed to be protected, we were supposed to fly and migrate with the wind. We were supposed to build sandcastles and imagine objects in clouds, but most nights we’re trapped inside four walls that don’t leave too much room for creativity.
I can’t remember when I started simply looking and stopped observing. I can’t remember when time went by but I was what got spent. I can’t remember when loving a person was no longer a fact but a weapon people used against you at your worst. People aren’t what should be protected but this will always happen because the cynic in me refuses to look at this with a beacon of hope. I can’t remember showing affection only got reduced to social media posts with desperate people who craved the validation. This is isn’t what we were supposed to be. I can’t remember when the crowd began to suffocate me and I got so good with being alone it made people uncomfortable. Solitude wasn’t always bliss and now it’s what you crave.
I can’t remember when I stopped noticing the joys in the small things. I can’t remember when I started hearing and stopped listening. Reading between the lines is a rare gift now. I can’t remember when soft toys turned expensive tops and letters to emails. I can’t remember people turned to remixes over good old poetry. I should be a song written in the sky instead I’m scattered droplets of water on the floor yet not cleaned. I can’t remember when flip flops turned to heels when you used to have your father’s shoulders to climb on and see the world. I can’t remember when being taller became a need because some heights are so perfect that that bone-crushing hug let’s you hear his heartbeats.
I can’t remember when forever became a myth that’s used so often it degraded that very value of the word. I can’t remember when someone taught me to stop believing in it. I can’t remember when we became as fragile as glass but with a facade of steel out front. I can’t remember when letting feelings die inside us every day became a core of our being. We say so much yet not what we’re supposed to. I can’t remember when actions were being ignored to believe words people never meant. I can’t remember when crying or being sick became a burden. I can’t when I grew up so fast to let myself not depend on them again. I can’t remember the last people traveled not to take back photographs but memories home. I can’t remember when a home became just a house.
I can’t remember the joy of going to school turned to the dread of attending lectures I snoozed through in university. I can’t remember education stopped being about learning but about getting that typical where everyone came home only to complain about their boss. I can’t remember why I stopped dancing in the rain on my rooftop because I was scared I’d get a cold and couldn’t complete my assignment. I can’t remember when exhaustion didn’t leave room for fantasies. I really should be on a beach in Bali enjoying the weather even when I’m so broke I can’t book a flight there. I can’t remember when birthdays were a reason for random strangers to throw cake at your face rather than peaceful family dinners. I can’t remember when I grew up so much I wanted to head out into the world. I can’t remember when being an independent woman became a threat.
I can’t remember when deep conversations turned to small talks and crowds made you look for just that one friendly face because the rest truly are irrelevant. I can’t remember when late nights were for writing reports instead of reading novels. I can’t remember when the hurt began writing scribbled stories.I can’t remember when the universe ceased to inspire and motivate me. I can’t remember the last time I felt truly amazed or touched. I can’t remember when the world began to judge on the basis of caste, color, race or religion and yet we called ourselves “evolved”. I can’t remember when being different started causing me the feeling of shame. I can’t remember the day I realized the monsters weren’t under my bed but the demons within. The monster I am at 2 am is cascaded by the shy introvert that walks during the day.
I can’t remember when I stopped recognizing the girl I saw the mirror today or when the lightning had a split the sea. I can’t remember when I started saving myself from drowning, from people and emotions alike. I can’t remember why no one reminded me to look at all of this because all of this goes unnoticed, every day, every second and to everyone who walks by you. I can’t remember when the universe let that black hole breathe the earth in or when voices were just shouts into voids, when children died hungry, thirsty, diseased or hurt. I’m trying and I can’t remember. I can’t remember you and most of all I can’t remember her.