When someone asks me about an incident that might have transpired last week, or God forbid, yesterday, I usually grope in the dark. Memories take the form of half-translucent ghostly figures that lurk in the dim twilight of jumbled incidents that merely make sense anymore. However, when a long lost friend or a cousin brings up an incident of my childhood, my memories take up the most vivid and luminous forms of corporeality. I often wonder why that is, but after repeated sessions of thoughtful introspection, I attribute it to my girlhood habit of collection and record keeping.
I was the girl who had almost no social skills, and hence, no friends. Meeting strangers was one of my worst nightmares; only second to getting my marked math answer sheet. I kept myself to the backyard of my maternal home, where dappled sunlight threw patterns on the ground, and where silence was only punctuated by bird chattering or a singular moo from the grazing cows. It was a universe of its own, a kingdom of multiple curiosities, but none was more lucrative to me than the circassian seeds: the bright red seeds that lay among the brown foliage, waiting to be discovered.
Most of the young girls had a collection of their own, stored in tins or plastic containers, which was indeed a possession that fetched you a certain prestige among your peers. I had multiple containers of the red seeds, which were emptied at many sanguine dusks, and carefully counted, fondled, and promptly stowed away. I used them to make beautiful designs, which were probably the first mandalas that I had ever created. Now, when I see mandala making prescribed as a remedy to bouts of anxiety, I often think about my lonely pursuits of those halcyon days, when I never felt lonely, but in one of the most delightful and calming presences I have ever known.
Milkweed, feathers, buttons, and other knickknacks were among the other possessions I owned, which gradually gave way to ticket stubs and bills, chronicling the first-ever adolescent adventures of my more happening life.
The magpie habit continued well into my youth, savoring anything from greeting cards to paper coffee cups, which somehow died at some point in my adulthood. I attribute it to finding more homes as I grew up, which taught me the bitter lesson of utility, of discarding things that offered no extrinsic value. Moving homes has become easier since then. It still breaks my heart to find an old ticket stub or a case of the bright red seeds, stowed away in some dark corner of my maternal home, a lament for my romantic girlhood.