You remember how, when you were young, calendars were meant to be hung on the wall. You liked being the one to see it first – to check if they had mountains, or flowers or deities on them. You always hated the ones with the deities; the house was full of their pictures anyway!
As soon as a new calendar arrived, you’d turn to February. Your birth month. The picture on this one was always the best. Next, you’d go to October. Your brother’s birth month. You’d show it to him, but he would be unimpressed. He didn’t care much for calendars anyway.
Dadi would look for a clean spot on the wall in the kitchen and hang it there, out of your reach. You’d loiter around for a while, but eventually forget all about it.
At the beginning of every month, dadi would take you to the kitchen, where the calendar was hung. Smiling, she’d tear out the first page from the calendar, almost in slow motion. She’d look at you intently as she gave you that old, yellowing month, stained with turmeric and oil and memories. You’d hold the sheet in your hands, look at the new, glossy picture that had just been revealed, and wink gleefully.
No ordinary memory, that. Imagine the excitement of an eight year old who gets to play with a picture she’s been eyeing for an entire month. You’d cut the picture out and tuck it away into an old file. You’d never fold it. As soon as you learned to use a stapler, you started another ritual; piecing the months back together.
And then, just like that, you grew up. It didn’t take you long to lose both your file and your interest in this little routine. Dadi, however, tore up the old months just the same, year after year. At first she would tuck them away in a box, just in case. As years went by, you saw pages from the calendar rolled into balls and tossed away into the dustbin. The calendar grew thinner, so did she. Then, there was that last month.
You still don’t know if this is really true or if you’re imagining it, but each time she tossed a page into the dustbin, she did so with more force than before, as if she wanted these passages of time to never have existed. Perhaps she was tearing up these ‘months’ not from the calendar, but from her otherwise empty life; these weren’t just pages, these were month after month of a listless life gone by. To think of it, this little act of rebellion may well have been her greatest relief.
But enough of dwelling on the past. The point is, lately calendars have begun to inspire fear and sadness in you, and that’s not okay. You are not going to toss these yellowing, stained pages into the dustbin. You have decided that you will, instead, tuck your months and years away. Not as what could’ve been, but as chronicles of your loves and sufferings and wants.
You will inspire envy. Here’s to an early new year resolution!