He was sitting in his room, cuddled under the warm blankets, a cup of coffee on the night stand, a book lay open in his hand, the pages ruffling with the incoming gust of wind through the open window. The laptop kept displaying the movie that had not been getting enough attention from the person lost in thoughts, unaware to the blurred dance of colors on the screen. He fiddled with the ribbon in his hand, gift wrappers strewn across the room, unopened boxes defined a pile on the floor as the opened ones dawned an aura of mixed expressions as their gifts were tossed aside. He cuddled the diary in his lap. The cover had faded from its original bright blue, the pages yellowed and bend stiff. The diary had been acknowledged three times. His scrawny untidy writing that marked the first three pages, the middle three pages and now, the last page. The rest as stripped bare blank as it could ever be. It had been years, his memory had already bidden farewell to it a long time ago. If it wasn’t for him to give in to his heart wanting to open the only present wrapped in a newspaper and adorned with a ribbon that held a punched note.
“To the one who was lost and found.”
He tried hard to stop his tears rolling down his cheek as he read the same old yellowed pages over and over, his heart in sync with the familiarity of the exact moment he had refrained sharing with anyone else and this diary had so lovingly withheld. He turned again to the first page and soaked in all that he had been through.
‘Hello diary. I do not know what else to call you. My mind does not register any particular name for you as yet. I am a 16-year-old boy. And I am a loser.’
He lingered around that word for a long time. He recalled those troubled times, the meek, silent, weak bodied boy who had no spark in his eyes and no glow on his face when it came to recognition. He grew up in a loved environment, a family of four. He had been a bright student during his primary school but his performance deteriorated as he grew. And his higher school performance had been poor enough for him to withdraw to himself, turning sullen and frightened. He himself had tagged him a loser. He remembered the night when he could bear it no longer and he took to confide with his diary, something he had never considered before. It was that peculiar moment that had him his heart pouring out. He cried about him not having any interest in his studies but all he wanted to do was be on the football ground. He wasn’t the best but he was good and he felt liberated. He felt a constant disappointment to his parents looking at his grades which had gifted him so many red marks. His sibling relations was turning sour because his self-pity led to have an even more impact of the childhood rivalry than it should have, while his elder brother and sister had their careers building and talents being explored, he was falling deep in the pit of darkness. He did not want any sympathy so he did not utter a word of his shadows to anyone for the fear of being mocked and looked down upon. He felt some peace in the shelter of his parents who did express their disappointment at appropriate times but never pushed him or mocked him. But their eyes, he could read them. They searched for the child who once had been amongst the smartest of his class to the boy who was defeated by his own disappointments. He cried that night so hard, that silence had been too loud. He managed to clear his boards as his family prepared for engineering admissions when he accepted the stream. The diary went back to its corner to bathe in dust particles for years till again perhaps, he came across it.
He had been in love. He managed to secure a job. He had been head-over-heels with a person who never noticed. He told her, he expressed to as far as his depth let him. She refused. But worst, she compared him to another man. She brought back all the years that came rushing at him which he had so managed to put behind him. His manager had him plummeting back to all horrors which now started drumming up against his chest, his heartbeat racing as sweat trickled down his forehead but he himself had lost all emotions, all thoughts. He felt like the blackboard which had been wiped clean of anything that may have ever been written. He felt like he was living a life of torment of his own failures reflected back as though he was surrounded by mirrors and all he saw was moments he managed to fail. That night, he returned home. He locked the door and slid aside the wooden panel that concealed the storage space in his bed and stepped in. A dim light barely managed to reach to the entire space. He had given up. He couldn’t take it anymore. He just wanted to go through his stuff, his childhood that had sparkled so bright and then just lost all the glitter to his existence. Just that one last time.
He pulled out his report cards, all so proudly beaming with A’s and his paintings which scored the highest. His football team jersey, shoes, his handwritten compositions that had been gloried with three stars, the highest that was given. And among the pile of his homework notebooks, he found a blue diary. The one that he had been gifted by his family. The special thing about it was that he wasn’t gifted it on his birthday or any achievement. He was gifted that diary on his first failure. The day his results had for the first time in his life, deprived him of his smile, his belief, his confidence before spiralling him down the long run of time he never wanted to live through. He had kept it aside not wanting to be reminded of that day and forgotten about it. He had randomly pulled it out to smear across the first three pages and then toss it back. But now that he wanted bid farewell, he decided to have a look through it. Stuck to the inner cover was a white envelope. He pulled out a note, its fold cracked as he opened it, wondering how he never knew about it but still understanding. It had a few lines, signed by his entire family.
“Hi little munchkin. We know you are upset, we all saw the smile that was wiped away from your face. You may wonder why a present for a failure, right? Well kiddo, we all want you to be the person who cherishes life, not just his success. Who appreciates failures so he can learn. We do not expect you to be the star all day long. We want that person, who at the end of the day, no matter what, just doesn’t give up. It’s your first time, you’ll understand as you grow. We have all been there. You don’t know because you were too small, too bright and too cute to understand. Just know champ, you will always be loved no matter what. Just be there for yourself too. It’s okay love.”
His hands shook towards the end of the note. His vision blurred, tears streaming down his face, finally understanding where he had lost himself. He had belittled himself every single time, at every opportunity he got. He just never embraced the other side of life in his pursuit to find what he wanted. He had been so downtrodden by the person he kept comparing himself to, he forgot to forgive himself, he forgot to give himself a chance. He shuddered at what he had decided already. It was towards dawn when he pulled all his scattered pieces together to try one more time. Just that once, he decided to work on his doubts, his failures, his disappointments. Just that once. For the very first time.
Today he sat beside the window, relaxed but still splurged with the havoc of emotions that had now been on an open display for him to admire. And he wrote towards the end of the diary. Its because his missed accepting himself. He lost himself to the guy who kept running away. To the guy whose head was so deep buried in turmoil he never spared anytime to sort his peace. If he had, maybe, somewhere, he could have found a tiny ounce. And he did. So much of it.