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Have you ever lost something that seems trivial, and yet so important at that moment? A story of losing and recouping, all in the course of a day.
One of the top 5 entries for February’s muse of the month writing cue, “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” (from Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, J.K.Rowling).
Sandhya Renukamba is a book-loving, stay-at-home-mom to an equally book-loving 11 year old. She reads anything and everything, especially children’s books, which she reviews on Saffrontree . She is fascinated by words.
At that time, I was around 16-17 years old, a junior college student. I started from home as usual. Backpack, check. Umbrella, check. It had been pouring since the night, and as I stepped out, I unfurled the umbrella, holding it aloft with a firm grip, clicking my tongue in annoyance at the gust of wind that threatened to pull it out of my hand. It would be a miracle if I could get to the bus stop, a mere 10 minutes’ walk, without getting drenched, I thought.
The bus was packed. I quickly shut my umbrella, and managed to struggle my way in, getting to a seat whose occupant, I knew, got down a couple of stops later. As regular commuters, we had an unspoken arrangement – I would inch my way to her seat by the time it was time for her to get up, and sit on the emptied seat. As soon as I had eased myself into it, I stood my folded umbrella by the window, so that the water could drain away. It was an hour’s journey to college, and I settled down for a nice long read.
Time drifted away, and the sounds and smells around me receded as the travails of Mrs de Winter loomed large in my mind – I was in Manderlay, the terror of confronting Mrs. Danvers blotting out anything else.
A sudden clamour brought me back to the present – I looked up to see that I had come a way further than I should have. “Now I’ll have to walk back two stops,” I muttered to myself, as I rushed to the door, pulling my backpack behind me, the book still in my hand. At least, the rain had stopped. I realized too late, just as the bus pulled away, that I had left my umbrella behind!
Angry with myself, I made my way to the college. Now this was a fine thing to happen – how was I going to explain the loss of a nearly new umbrella to an exasperated parent? The third umbrella this monsoon to have misplaced?
The worry had a crab’s hold on my mind, and I could not focus. I told myself not to be silly. What was done was done. Ruminating over it wasn’t going to get my umbrella back. That, of course, didn’t work, and as I had predicted, the misery fomented in my mind all day, resulting in a humongous headache by end of day. Every month, I had been using my pocket money to buy a new umbrella to replace the one I would lose. That left me with just enough money for tea and eats at the college canteen. How in the world was I going to renew my library subscription? What would I do without my precious books? I didn’t want to borrow from my classmates – again! No way was I going to ask my parents for any extra money – not after I had promised to be more responsible for my things, for the nth time.
Round and round in circles, went my thoughts – all my focus on how to procure the books I wanted…no, needed, like air. A new umbrella was a must. There was no way I was going to survive two more months of the Mumbai monsoons without one. There was no way I was going to focus on the classwork, too – not if the lecturer was going to go on in that soporific manner. I needed to get out of there, clear my head, and think of what I needed to do.
It was early yet, just past lunch time. My stomach gave a loud growl as I dully walked to the bus stop. The hunger worsened my headache, but contrarily, I did not head to the canteen. I kept walking aimlessly, until I realized I was near my usual bus stop. Like a horse cut adrift, I had meandered there, out of sheer habit. “Why not?” I thought. “Let’s just go home.”
The sky seemed heavy, as though with its disappointment in me. Dully, I watched a bus trundle over, and stop. It was not as crowded, it being mid-afternoon. I got on, walked by habit to the seat I usually took, and sat down, still in that haze. I bought my ticket from an indifferent conductor, and gazed out of the window.
Suddenly, the driver braked hard, jolting me out of my daze. A dog had apparently run across the road. As I recovered my wits, I realized that my ankle was hurting. Something had hit it from behind. Annoyed, I looked down to see what it was.
There, rolled out from under the seat where it had rolled in earlier in the day, was my library card – the lost umbrella!
Pic credit: Judy (Used under a Creative Commons license)
In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
Enjoyed this – especially where you call the umbrella your library card!
Thanks, Shruthi! Coming from you, that means a lot. 🙂
Immersed in the world of books and soaring away from the mundane….don’t we all want to do that? So glad you found ‘your library card’.
Happens to many book lovers, getting lost in a book, thanks for reminding us;)
Enjoyed your story
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