I can’t forget one particular day in my life. A chapter in my leaflet that made me immensely gloomy when I was quite young. This was way before I was introduced to the concept of love. It holds a special place in my heart because it belonged to that era wherein I was learning how to enjoy my words. Life was nothing but a proving ground for me.
It was a letter competition with a hazy date. So hazy that I was convinced our submissions were supposed to happen before 24th September when in reality, what the announcer meant was 23rd instead.
Days spent in brooding, scribbling, re-writing again, creating words that were next to magic. It was the beginning of the change in my head. Words were finally making more sense to me. My hunt for appreciation, nay, love was true. It was trying to express itself in its purest form. I had seen a rare spark of talent in my pen somehow. I knew it was a proper hammering of a dream that was to pan out a sculpture of me on the anvil of destiny. All I needed was a nod. Just a mere nod. Someone or something prizing me with these words:
“You are something in our whole lot of nothing.”
Until the day in my head finally arrived.
With all that sweat and all that dreams in my eyes, I scoured like a madman for the teacher who had asked for submissions. It was a big school; nobody was spared from getting lost. But my resolve couldn’t be shaken. I went from class to class looking for her, all her possible frequented areas, all her probable inclinations. Amidst my search, two pages of diligence dangled between my hands. Those leaves were as excited as I was.
When I finally got hold of her on a wretched staircase, I gave her the biggest smile my face could ever register, handing over my baby in her hands.
She was quick to respond,
“But the last date is over. You are a day late.”
And I could only manage:
Weren’t we supposed to hand it over before 24th?
Her blank eyes that were well clouded by a thick layer of her spectacles failed to recognize the zeal in mine. She was as blunt as I picture her right now. She responded coldly.
Yes, on 23rd. Before 24th means 23rd. You should have come yesterday.
I apologized for being stupid with a sinking heart. As she went on to meet a waiting class, I stood there looking at my papers. If she had just read it, if I could have convinced her to read it once, maybe she would have changed her mind. I was a stranger to her. Strangers get hurt without the other realizing it. I was tempted to shout:
You haven’t lived in my shoes. You don’t know me the way I do. Maybe if you had, it would have affected your decision to see how bad I had worked on my letter.
I went to my class utterly disappointed at myself, at the teacher for being so crude, and at my hard luck. I couldn’t stop myself from going on and on about it for a day or two in front of my mother, my brother and some of those friends who really listened when I talked. Later I came to realize someone from my class won that competition and he with a smug face came to point it out to me.
For a couple of days, it sat there on my table, that letter I had written. It looked at me with an uncertain fate. It had connected to me on a level, no one ever could. It knew all about a dream that went inside the head of a child while it was penned. It was well aware of the despair too when that dream couldn’t manage an approval.
Until one day it chose to get lost amongst countless papers of the past.