Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay 

The evening sky veiled it's face in colors of orange and lilac and the voice of the city had evanescent into glitters of gold rafting in the air. The apartment buildings appeared majestic with sparkling lights, almost magical I'd say only if it were not for the clothes hanging on the terrace railings of different floors. 

Four years ago, I came to Mumbai. Full of zeal and overflowing dreams; those which with time have vaporized into thin air leaving no trace. I spent most of my time staring at the ceiling and smoking cigarettes which had gradually built a tower of thoughts.

Over time, I had realized that overlapping the boundaries of time causes unnatural lapses and distorts the flow of time. The circle of life cycles in the route of time: past, present and future. This flow is similar to that of a young river, youthful and vibrant. If a dam were to be raised, the flow would get disrupted and meet an abrupt end, locking away the greatest possibility of flowing into the ocean someday. 

After four long years, I had decided to walk out the loophole of the past. The space has been shoved clean. All the items were packed in boxes, ready to be moved. 

"Oh, the drawers."

I pulled the gold-painted knuckles of the wooden drawers. Luckily, there wasn't much to be emptied. It didn't take long to find a book laying soundly asleep there. I took it to my hand and in a glimpse, I knew exactly what it was.

In a breath, my memory swam across the blue sky, up the valleys and down the terrains to the summer of 2010, Rabong.

Rabong was a small village with a scattered population, covered under a thick belt of pine and silver oak trees. I had walked 3kms till I finally caught sight of small stalls raised by knitting the bamboo sticks together, which under the influence of erratic monsoon bursts and sunlight had fostered green algae. 

I confirmed my order: a cup of tea along with a plate of momos with the lady whilst looking around the lush scenery.

Letting the tranquility surround me, I silently enjoyed the food. Soon, dipping the last piece of momo in the achaar, I swallowed it in one big gulp and let out my satisfaction with a well-built burp. 

The atmosphere was quiet yet something about it excited me. I couldn't resist my eyes from climbing the mountains and canopies of the magnificent trees. After a short travel in the clouds around the neighbourhood, they landed safely on a brown diary. Not far from where I was seated, a diary was in deep slumber.

"Was it there earlier?", I looked around in search of its potential master but there was no one. It was not my nature to pick the abandoned but I still found my hands reaching the book. I sat on the bench and opened the diary with the curiosity of a teenager. The first page was rather shabby, it had nothing but a name which was cut off at least fifty times. I would have not stopped myself from guessing that it was a possession of a child until I ran the pages and stopped at a note. 

It read,

March 03

The breeze blows swiftly in it's prime outside. The slithering sound which passes by makes the trees dance in harmony.

The plants, their names I can't seem to remember, they look green and healthy. Hong says we planted them together but I can't find a trace of that day in my memory.

My wife loves me well. Even when I'm nothing but a nuisance. She still calls me "honey". She just did, while placing the bright yellow chrysanthemums in a vase to decorate the table and perhaps even my soulless life. For a brink of second, the vase reminded me of myself. The vase which looked full from the outside was empty inside. That's me. And Hong, I might call her as bright as the flowers which fill the empty vase with alluring charm. My lovely, bright Hong!

I read it mindlessly without putting any extra thought to the words of this man.

May 19

Gemma took a short session today. She asked me her name. I remember her name. My dear Gemma, my youngest. In a breath, I confidently named her brothers too. Unable to hide her grin, she was smiling ear to ear. 

I thought to myself, "Yes, I should make her smile and keep her happy. I am her dad."

I flipped the page. To my surprise, at least three following pages had Gemma Joon Baek written in sequence, head to toe, as if a child was made to practice handwriting by his mother.

May 24

I did not recognize my son today. I could not remember his name. He spelled and pronounced his name. I repeated after him.

Coming back to my senses, I felt barren, face-to-face with embarrassment.

My children praise me when I get their names right. They tell me their names when I don't remember. And when I repeat it after them, they praise me, again. Receiving praise for naming my children correctly at this age, I feel so embarrassed.

The following pages were blank, some were torn off. With constant flipping and flapping, I found a note. Unlike the previous ones, it had no date. There was nothing dramatic about it yet I found my head hovering around it.

When I look at my pictures, I like to believe that I was smiling earnestly.

One's experiences turn into memories and 'those' make life. A life full of countless and timeless memories. My big jar of memories was cracked open, and what lived inside left me. On rare occasions they come back, like a daughter who visits her natal home once a while and leaves, again.

I read the earlier notes during my free time. I recall some. When I don't, I try to color the empty words with new colors. I've stopped looking for the original colors but rather learned to refill it with new ones.

This way I can live, live again, live differently rather than die every other day I fail to remember. 

Life has just turned different, might as well live differently. 

It was the last written note in the diary. I checked the remaining pages and re-checked them again. There was no more. 

I flipped back to the first page again. I don't know if it were me trying to draw a meaning out of it but those scribbled lines no more felt desperate and devastated but rather fulfilling. 

He was no more the person agonizing over what he used to be. It wasn't defeat, it was acceptance; it was courage.

Rowing my boat back to the apartment in Mumbai, another instance from that year in Rabong flashed before me.

It was after the rain, I remember seeing dozens of mayflies pushing their wings above the mud. That was my first time experiencing such a sight. These small flies were so enthusiastic, flapping their wings out to take their first flight. It was as if they knew, if they wouldn't walk out of the cold mud, they would never soar under the blue sky. Perhaps, they knew. They knew of the truth that I was unaware of.

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