food for thought, Short Stories

The Study Table – III

I

II

III

Life moves on. So, I moved on too –

My new destination? A scrap yard. How did I come to be there? Didn’t I tell you that my ex-owner found me too old and too obese for his “renovated” home? He was so sure of my ugliness and my uselessness that he didn’t even put me up on sale – He threw me straight to the Scrap yard. Before I could even analyze my surroundings, I was taken by a roadside barber. So, now I had a new job role. I watched people come and go, some getting shaved, some getting massaged and some getting their hair cut. I remember how happy the mirror placed on me used to be. I despised her. Her happiness made me grow immensely jealous of her. With each passing day, I became more and more morose. Throwing me away like garbage after all those years of my diligent service wasn’t a fair treatment. Couldn’t he just chop me off and use me in a bonfire? I would have been happy with that. Sitting there, by the road, was humiliating! I am the one who needs to be kept sedated with smell of books. I am the one who survives in the presence of poetry or the equations of chemical reactions or trigonometry problems. The lumps of hair accumulating on me were infuriating. The barber scratching the razors on me didn’t make me feel better either. Initially, I had thought that the girl was worst. Then I thought that the scrap yard was the worst. But somehow, I kept descending to worse of worsts! I was tempted to call the barber worst too. But I couldn’t, fearing the ironic implication of that statement. Nevertheless, fate took the unintentional and the unsaid challenge anyway.

The barber abruptly left one day. Initially, it seemed like a dream come true. But in reality, it has been a nightmare. I spend my days and nights alone on the road side. So, I get roasted in the afternoons, wet in the rains and remain immensely dusty all the time. The horns of the cars haunt me, my loneliness haunts me, my uselessness haunts me, my existence haunts me and I stand waiting, waiting for my end to finally make an entrance. The way things are progressing or regressing, I am sure my end isn’t far. But if it is, if it is somehow still far, then the worst haunts me. And here you are – miraculously standing with that unwavering look of admiration in your eyes. I am not flattered. I am amazed. For a moment, I am tempted to forget what I have been through. For a moment, I am tempted to be hopeful. For the first time in a really long time, I am happy. It doesn’t have to last long. I know it won’t. But I am grateful to you for this. I am grateful to you indeed.

“It’s a pity how this table is thrown here. It should be used, it’s so pretty!” I hear the woman’s voice.

“Pretty old, you mean. Pretty broken, you mean. Pretty ugly, you mean.”  Her friend replies and I find myself agreeing with him.

“Pretty apt for our café, I meant.” The woman replies.

“This? For our café? No way!”

“What’s wrong! It matches with the theme. Plus, I will work on it. I will make it pretty presentable and pretty awesome, you will see!”

“I am not so sure…”

The woman comes near me. I shiver at her proximity. I shiver at her touch. It really had been a long time since any human had stood so close to me.

“The table is old, yes, I know. But the wood is still good, see? They don’t make such furniture anymore! Let’s take it to our garage. I will repair it.”

“You do that in a month’s time. Or else I will throw it.”

“You can count on me!” she replies excitedly.

I refuse to believe my ears. Does she really mean it? After this long series of abandonment, did this just happen for real?

Epilogue

I was sure I was going to return to the road again. I didn’t think I was repairable. I was sure that the woman would give up on me soon. Miraculously, she didn’t. I ended up being in her café instead. I couldn’t believe my own transformation. Though I am no longer a study table I admit, but I am always sedated with a stack of books at my corner. Quite often, I am also greeted by the heat of laptops and the mild heat of the hot coffee filtered through the coasters. Sometimes I am greeted by interesting conversations, interesting people scribbling interesting things in their notebooks and I love it.  I love it all. But then amidst all these beautiful chaos and entropy, I keep myself reminding that I am, at the end of the day, just a table.

***

Short Stories

The Study Table – II

I

II

Life moves on. So, I moved on too –

After he left, his room was converted to cater paying guests. My new user, a girl, wasn’t very studious. The stains on me – You can attribute almost all of them to her. Before I met her, I was aware of just one use of mine – be a good companion to studies. But she used me for everything other than that. I was pretty shocked by my own versatility. I remember the day when she had even used me for things that are usually described in those books – Eroticas! If I had cheeks, you could have seen how embarrassed I still get by just thinking about it. But that also was one of the wildest nights I had ever had. I would admit that. This acceptance didn’t come easily though. When she used me for the same purpose again I was horrified to realize that I was secretly anticipating it. It was shocking because I remembered being furious about it. And yet, my anger had deserted me for a secret anticipation! But there’s no point in making denials, is there? You can’t change how you feel – You feel what you feel. Initially, I had judged her. Then I judged my own self. I hated her. I hated her the most because she made me hate myself. I thought the worst had hit me. But then it hadn’t. There’s a thin line between hate and love. I don’t know when I crossed it. I don’t know how I found the sudden acceptance for both of us. But my days significantly improved from then on. How did it all come to be? It’s a mystery. I soon forgot my ex-job roles. I had conformed completely according to my new environment, according to my new user. I became lazy. Not being dusted didn’t bother me. Not being touched didn’t bother me. In fact, I soon became absolutely reluctant to being disturbed at all. All I wanted was to be left alone. I slept and slept except the time when I would gaze at the girl comb her hair or apply Kajal looking at the small dusty mirror placed on me. Sometimes, she would work on her laptop, or read a novel; those were some occasional moments that made me grow nostalgic of the old days. Sometimes, she would sit on me and smoke and just stare at the ceiling in the dark. She was peculiar that way and her peculiarity often made me feel protective about her. Not that I was particularly skilled at protecting her. But she could be so bold and vulnerable at the same time, it broke my heart. Sometimes, she would talk for endless hours, often to herself. Sometimes, she would even talk to me. “Table Oh! Table! Where’s my comb?” Not on me, in your bag but how would I tell her that? “Where’s my mascara?” You dropped it and now it has rolled over behind me. But how do I tell her that? “Where’s my book?” You don’t have it. Not even the photocopy.

She was unique. She was amazing. I loved her. But sometimes, I used to be mad at her for both disturbing me and not disturbing me often. Each evening when she would come home, I would eagerly wait for her to take her journal out of the drawer and pen down her day with me. I would scan through her thoughts, through her breakups, through her patch ups, through her rifts with professors, through her weekend getaways, through her long walks, through her discoveries of new food joints, through her shopping habits, through her experiences, through her life, through her beauty – shining radiantly in front of my eyes.

But you know the thing about life – it goes on, often turning a blind eye towards your deepest desires. So yes, one day, she moved out too.

**

III

Short Stories

The Study Table – I

I

Truth be told, I admit that I am not the kind of thing who gets a lot of attention. And hence, receiving the same from you seems almost surreal. I can’t remember the last time when I received that look of admiration that you currently seem to hold. I am flattered, thank you. But it’s okay if you go back to being completely oblivious of me. You have done more than enough and I don’t wish to be too hopeful. It’s not like I will be offended by your negligence. I would be relieved, on the contrary. You might find this confession of mine, in a way, pitiable but you don’t have to waste your pity on me. You see, I accepted the fact, long time ago, that only the most fortunate ones among us are used for the purpose they are really meant for. Rest of all, are just meant to carry the load of the unused books kept at the corner, to forcibly flaunt the food stain scattered on our surface like acne marks on a teenager’s face and to be used as the open shelf for various weird things like lotion or medicine or pen stands filled with pens that don’t really work, the used plates that’s not been washed since several days, an empty bottle, ashes from the incense stick or a framed photograph received as a birthday gift, some rough useless papers, some broken pencils, ear rings – awfully lonely without their significant others, rubber bands, clutches who, with their broken tooth, are in a dire need of a dentist – you get the gist. But hold on, I am not trying to gain your sympathy here. Don’t be under the impression that I have never experienced any good days. There was a time when I used to dazzle under the light of a study lamp. There was a time when I was considered too sacred to be eaten upon; you see dining table and the study table aren’t the same thing. There was once a time, when the books kept on me were indeed used, read and written into.  There was once a time when I indeed felt useful and respected. Of course, that time is gone now. I have aged and I have become too ugly for the current furniture beauty standards. My ex-owner found me too obese and ancient to be kept inside his “modern” home. I seemed to be taking too much space. But I don’t bear any hard feelings against him or anyone. In fact, his opinions were, in a way, completely justifiable. However, I am pretty startled by your unconventional choice. Unconventional or in colloquial term – bad. But then, it’s just time, I understand. We all, once in our lives see the best of it. We all, once in our lives also see the worst of it. I guess, I have already seen the best and hence here’s the worst. It’s okay – it’s life. My only regret is that I never realized how beautiful it is to a hold book, watch a person read it, write on it and even sometimes sleep on it (especially when he is supposed to be studying). You might be startled by my unique standards for beauty. But then it used to be our secret; mine, chair’s and his. There are so many illegal naps he had taken under my supervision. I am not even remotely guilty about that. He seemed so beautiful and vulnerable in those moments. If I had hands, I would have run them through his hair. If I had voice, I would have sung a lullaby. But instead, I had a responsibility so I never let him doze for long intervals. Waking him up used to be the hardest thing to do but I had to do it. I am a study table after all, not a bed. But there were more secrets besides this. I witnessed him writing poems in lieu of solving mathematics problems for his first crush. I have also witnessed him using his newly learnt (rather a bit peculiar) vocabulary on the same crush when she told him she didn’t like him back. I have seen his anguish and gradual acceptance. I have seen him getting annoyed by the periodic table and inorganic chemistry in particular! I have seen him quoting Robert Frost and pasting extracts of Walt Whitman’s poetry on me. Ah! Those were the good days, when we would stay up till 3 A.M trying to solve a stubborn calculus problem and yet find no solution until one random day when we would realize how easy it really was. How mysteriously things work out! And how suddenly and yet spontaneously things deteriorate! I wasn’t taken completely by surprise when he left. I had always known that he would depart someday – that was ironically a major part of my purpose in his life and my life as well. But still I never thought that that someday would arrive so soon. How time flies! I kept hoping for the longest time that he would come back. I kept hoping that we would rekindle our relationship – at least for one day! But he never did, at least not the way I wanted him to. What could I do? That’s the most iconic thing about life – it goes on, often completely neglecting your desires.

*

II

III