‘Ma’, Samta called, ‘Today I’m going to tidy the attic.’ Samta’s mother, Mrs. Tandon beamed with happiness. After all, she didn’t hear many such eager offers from her daughter. But then, it’s not her fault. She quietly admonished the present education system. It has really taken its toll on Samta. The garrulous Samta has now turned to a sedate young lady, full of unusual gloom, inadvertent. But she is only twenty-five!
The sound of the opening of the lock brought Mrs. Tandon to reality. It was Samta in the attic. This once-buxom girl had entered into the attic, leaving behind the present outside the threshold. There she sat rummaging through the piles of papers, drawers, flinging out worn-out documents. In a few minutes, she was drowned in the dust and dirt. She did not care. Being an workaholic, she was soon engrossed in her job.
Samta remembered, as she assiduously sorted out the new from the old, the days when she had spent hours in the attic. Those days when she could quarrel with her favorite friend, Shweta over a bite of Cornetto, or slip away from school to watch Bazigarh and fool around with boys. Gosh! that time is gone! ‘Time is a dictator,’ she reflected, it always reigns over you. I’ve changed and metamorphosed. Everybody manages to change, even the most adamant amongst us has to.’
From the ocean of papers and books, suddenly her diary came into her hands. It was the same velvetty diary where she used write every minutest details of her life. Turning the pages, she came across a yellowing photograph. The face dazed her and gave her an electrifying shock. It was Sourya’s. As she sat caressing the picture, holding it up to her chin at times. She remembered the debonair, charming, baritone-voiced Sourya. Yes, she could now frame him clearly. It certainly takes time to wipe away the haze collected over one’s memory. That face which had laid so peacefully in the depths of her memory, stirred her apparent equanimity.
Sourya was the cynosure among her friends and she the pet. Naturally, they came closer. Curiosity led to friendship and friendship led to deep, deep love. Love indeed! Even their friends had to admit – they were made for each other. Those were her rainbow days! During holidays, she sneaked into the attic and poured her heart’s content into the diary. On long afternoons, she would look up into the sky as if to thank God. Yes, she would thank God profusely. Her eyes were crystal clear, bright with the prospects of tomorrow. She used to read Sourya’s letters covertly in the attic, safe from the prying eyes of her mother. Her replies were also framed there, which were full of youthful romanticism.
It was after two years of steady relationship that they drifted apart. Sourya was going to the United States. Hoards of cards, well wishes were showered on them both. Samta was too bewildered to react. Things happened so quickly that she could not grasp. In an intimate moment, Sourya vowed, ‘I’ll never forget you’. Samta also reconvinced her faith, her staunch belief on Sourya.
Faith – the treacherous thing! Damn you, God of Faith, she cursed. The babe of the bevy suddenly became too adult-like. Her attic was the only place she poured her heart out! Time flew. Letters from Sourya became fewer and fewer and finally it stopped. Her zest for life also vanished. Mrs. Tandon was happy that her idiosyncratic daughter was less frivolous and had started taking life seriously.
And from then on, there was no looking back. Ruthlessly murdering her dreams, she got engrossed in the mundane lifestyle – studies and exams. Only – she never went to the attic. First, it was a searing pain, then it was lesser, and after sometime she did not feel it at all. It remained safe and secured in the lap of time like her Sourya. Reminiscing over, Samta sat with Sourya’s picture clasped to her bosom. Somewhere deep within a choking feeling engulfed her.
Back from the long hibernation, her love for Sourya suddenly surged forth. Samta made up her mind to meet him in the United States, now that she had won the scholarship. One goal accomplished, the others will only be a matter of time. There was no fumbling in her and with a dreamy determination, Samta walked out of the attic, clutching Sourya’s picture close to her heart.
The soft light of the morning sun danced in her starry eyes.