SHELF(ISH)

1986
My VIP logo gleams in the dark room. I am too close to the roof for comfort. However, this is still better than my cramped former home at the shop down the road. A majestic red American Tourister suitcase struggles with me for space. The handy Samsonite black bag grins at our antics. As the days pass by, the Samsonite gets on and off the shelf, telling us stories of airports and hotel rooms. Jealousy gnaws at my insides, making my zips vibrate.

Finally, a calloused hand with multicoloured bangles on its wrist, gently pulls me down the shelf. It carefully unzips me to place neat bundles of clothes, undergarments, toiletries, towels and sanitary napkins. It lovingly pats my cover after it is finished. The red suitcase and black travel bag are already on holiday, forcing me to gloat by myself. I roll my wheels with excitement.

The calloused hand comes back. It unzips me with a jerk, throws all the packed items out and pushes me away violently. A few of the bangles slip out of reach, cracking under my weight. Shards of glass sadly twinkle in the grim light of the room.

1991
A new, work-roughened hand hurriedly wipes my case nowadays. My companions laugh at my short journey. Up and down the shelf I go. Up and down.

Down.
Dow.
Do.
D.

1997
The slender calloused hand has lost most of its bangles. It wears a single gold bracelet that refuses to tinkle, for it has lost its friends. The hand touches me sometimes. Its fingers trace untold stories, hummed songs and blurry pictures on my cover. It impatiently drums its fingers at times, working me up into a frenzy of anticipation. Its broken nails and chafed fingers seem too tired on other days.

2006
A new Safari Bag has usurped my place on the shelf. I have been confined to the store. Dirty trunks, unused curtains, moths and flies invade my privacy every day. I rest forgotten, like lost sepia photographs that make memory forget.

2016
Suddenly, I am jerked out of my slumber. A slender, weather beaten, shrivelled hand happily pulls me out of layers of grime. It throws me open under the benign yellow light bulb and cleans me thoroughly with soap water and dry cloth. Then, it puts a few dull coloured saris, some jewellery and many packs of medicines in me. As sugar free pills and tubes of volini scramble for space, the tired (albeit hopeful) hand places a passport in the centre. The red American Tourister suitcase, black Samsonite bag and Safari bag on the esteemed shelf look away furiously.

Indira Gandhi International Airport

Now, it is my turn.

 

Written by Tript Kaur

Featured image by Hitashi Arora

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