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岁月的便条

Yellow Post-Its by Ishita Vora

Can you still find this day, my dear, among your possessions?

Among the souvenirs of your trips to faraway lands, the textbooks from those halcyon days when you walked the hallowed portals of that engineering college, the cassettes whose covers were left behind after one of those bacchanalian sessions in the hostel, the photographs of those classmates whose names you can’t remember? Or is it hidden in the darkness, put out of sight along with the book you bought but never read, the gift you never quite found a use for and the letters you never finished or sent.

I can still find it here, in the city, in the house which you have never visited, in the kitchen where I have imaginary conversations with you. It is here even when I am not, for I go out now, leaving the light on and the music playing, so I can return home to the illusion of company.

I am probably better off now. Without secrets to keep from my parents. Without someone to come between me and my friends, me and my pastimes, me and my work, me and my sensible, understandable, utilitarian life. The life that I keep trying, keep failing to bring in line with the expectations that I keep trying, keep failing to make my own.

It is not that I always feel like this, sometimes I yearn for those days when tears and laughter both came easy. Those easy and quick transitions from ecstasy to despair. When a compliment could keep my mind occupied for hours on end and a harsh word could prick like a pin the same skin which now seems dry and insensitive. Like probably millions around the world, I look outside the window of a crowded bus, lost in my own thoughts and wonder how it could happen to me.

Was I not supposed to be different from the rest? Not for the silly schoolgirl infatuation with the football team captain or the fascination with the good for nothing, pot-smoking aspiring poet. Ours was a mature friendship that had blossomed into more. How could I feel a pang of envy then, when you lent a helping hand to another girl, when you spoke about someone who’s far away and about to be married, when you were so involved in the book you were reading that you did not notice that we never met all day?

When we decided that it had been too long and that we should meet, I carefully started preparing a package for you. A small poem, that book you always wanted but never found, an old photograph and a bar of chocolate for us to share. What would I wear and what would we talk about? The package still remains in my drawer waiting for the phone to ring again.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when we sat in my tiny hostel room, discussing capitalism and campus gossip with equal fervor. When it seemed as if those conversations could last forever and we would never tire of them. When Joni Mitchell sang “California” seven times on continuous play before we thought of getting out.

Then one day suddenly we were looking for each other. You were always somewhere else, doing something else and strangely enough so was I. Those new people I met on that trip and that junior guy who loved the same movies I do. That girl next door who took math lessons from you. My room was almost always locked and yours was no different. We seemed to have discovered a whole world outside of ourselves all of a sudden. The tragedy was we had also lost the world we had before.

Then came the rescue mission. The loud fights in the hostel wing, the long silences and the desperate angry notes. Frustration, anxiety and even love revealing itself in the ugliest possible ways. Then indifference, complacency and resignation. Calm, dispassionate discussions on how we could stay friends. The decision that we should always let the other know when we would be around. That’s when I started leaving those yellow post-its on the door. Those yellow post-its which by the time I came back would have your coordinates that I never used. If we had all of them now, they would be telling this tale a lot better than I am now.

Back home, I still continue leaving those post-its to this day, hoping that someone will write their whereabouts on them as well.

  岁月的便条

  在你珍藏的众多宝贝中,你还能找出那些黄色的便条吗?

  一件件你从遥远他乡带回来的纪念品;自从你跨进那间工学院神圣的门槛以来留存下来的,记录了你青葱岁月的大学课本;一盒盒旧磁带,封套也早在某次宿舍狂欢派对后不见踪影;还有一一张张老照片,照片上的同学你也叫不上名字。在这些旧物中可有那黄色便条?会不会是藏在暗处,跟那本你买了但一直没有看的书放在一起,也可能是跟那些一无所用的礼品或者那些没写完没寄出的信放到一块儿了。

  我的便条还在,就在这城市里,在这所你从没来过的房子里,我在厨房里设想着和你谈话的情景。即使我不在,它们都会留守在家。现在即使上街,我也会把房间的灯打开,音乐放着,这样在我回家的时候就会有种错觉,觉得家里有人在等着我的归来。

  现在我的日子已经好多了――再也没有什么秘密要瞒着父母,再也没有什么人来过问我和朋友之间的交往,没有人关心我是如何打发我的空余时间,没有人愿意聆听我对工作的想法,没有人对我的生活感兴趣,我的日子过得简单而务实。向着芸芸众生的生活目标我不断地努力、失败,我也一直在努力寻找属于自己的生活目标,但也挫败不断。

  偶尔,不是经常,但总有那么些时候,我很渴望回到那些眼泪和欢笑都来得容易的日子。还记得以前,情感可以在瞬间轻易地从狂喜转至绝望。他人的几句恭维能让自己开心上好几个小时,而旁人的一句冷语能让自己感觉就像利针刺肤般难受,而如今自己的肌肤早已干涩麻木。也许跟世上数百万普通人一样,我会从挤迫的公车上朝窗外望,茫然出神,不解何故自己也会如此。

  我是否本来就不该与众不同?但我没有像一般小女生那样迷恋上学校足球队队长,或是痴情于那个一无是处、烟不离手的未来诗人。我们之间的是成熟的友谊,而且有着某种升华。可是,当你向别的女孩子伸出援手时,当你提到远方的某某快要结婚的时候,当你只顾看书而没想起咱们整整一天没见面,为什么每当这些时候心头都会感到阵阵嫉妒?

  大家太久没见了,决定要见个面,我于是为你准备了一个礼物包。一首小诗、那本你一直想看但找不到的书、一张旧照片、一条供两人分享的巧克力。我该穿什么衣服去呢?我们该聊些什么呢?这个礼物包现在还留在我的抽屉里,等待着电话铃声的再次响起。

  那是个下雨的星期天下午,我们坐在我那狭小的宿舍房间里,谈资本主义,谈校园里的八卦新闻,我们聊得同样起劲。那时,我们感觉可以就那样一直聊下去,永远都不厌倦。琼妮?米歇尔唱的California来来回回放了七遍,然后我们才想起应该出去走走。

  然而突然有一天,我们变得寻寻觅觅。你老是在别的地方,做着别的事情,奇怪的是,我也一样。我在一次旅途上认识了一群新朋友,有了跟我喜欢同一些电影的男生。你也有了那个跟你请教数学问题的邻家女生。我的房间总是锁上,你的也不例外。突然间,大家好像都找到了彼此之外的一个全新境界,可悲的是我们俩之前的世界就这样被遗弃一旁了。

  于是,大家企图挽救。于是就有了宿舍侧楼上的大声争吵、彼此长时间的沉默,还有生气又绝望的留言。沮丧和焦虑的情感,甚至爱,也以最丑恶的方式表现了出来。紧接着是冷漠、自负和最终的放弃。大家冷静而又理智地商量着彼此要继续做朋友,还决定还通知彼此的行踪。也就在那时候开始,我会在门上贴那些黄色便条。当我回到家的时候,就会发现在便条的空隙地方有你的新留言。如果我们现在都还保留着这些便条,它们一定可以把我们的故事叙述得更好。

  现在,在家里,我依然在门上贴着便条,期盼着某人会在上面写上他们的行踪。

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