It’s Sunday night, there are many more hours between now and the rush of Monday morning. So we sit back, make some jokes, share some laughs. We let ourselves sink into the couch, and watch a heartwarming movie. And then we move slowly from the living room to the kitchen as if intoxicated by the joy of the weekend. We make some space on the table for a game of Tsuro – the game of the path. Tile by tile, we move our respective coins, surrendering to wherever the noodle like path takes us. But we must stop, for, the pizza guy is here. Board game aside, we pour ourselves a glass of coke each, and take a heavy cheese-dripping slice of pizza. Mouth-full, we chuckle to Frasier’s rib-tickling jokes. After all, it’s Sunday night, there are many hours between now and the rush of Monday morning.
It started with Monopoly. N and I would sincerely carry the rectangular box along with a bottle of wine to all our friends’ houses. An hour into the game, the laughter would cease, and there would come a sense of tension, jealousy, anxiety, and a raw need to win. So we kept the little houses and mansions aside, and instead, got tiny rail carriages. In Ticket to Ride, USA version, there was no room to argue, beg and trade, as in Monopoly; and there was less left to chance. But then, one could always block another player’s route. When this happened, there was one less happy person. It was the same with Risk, Catan, and Seven Wonders.
Until one day we trespassed on Forbidden Island. N and I played it nine times, always defeated by the game. But together, we strengthened our resolve to beat it, and the tenth time we did. Us against the game. Together, united. Whether we lost or won. We found the same joy in Pandemic, last night. We plotted for hours to end a breakout, find cures, and build research centers around the world. Over pizza and wine, six of us fought our hardest; and when we lost, we cursed the game, swept the coins off the board, then laughed and planned another game night the next day.
Many moons ago, I was out with a couple of my colleagues. A fair, with blaring music, billowing tents of stalls, and beatific customers.
One of the colleagues nudged me, and said, “Why don’t you try that one?” A flimsy leopard print shirt stared back at me. “Well…,” I replied.
Out of the hanger, in my hands, the shirt was soft, silk like. The leopard print gave it a dangerous look. There were breast pockets, and golden cuff buttons. I made up my mind.
The shirt felt weightless in my hands. Once home, I locked the bedroom, tried it on, and lied to myself saying, “it looks great”.
It, of course, didn’t. It hung limply on my shoulders, the collars stuck out like two wilted leaves, and the weight of the tiny golden buttons pulled the two pockets down creating a flood of creases.
I curled it into a ball, and pushed it way back in the cupboard.
Life went on, until one fine morning, a year later, my folks went on a cleaning spree. “Have you ever worn this?” my dad asked, taking the shirt out from down a pile of shirts like a piece of fragile glass. “The problem is, I don’t find it among the clutter,” I lied.
The next morning, it was right on top of the pile.
I wore it to a resto-pub, staining it with a dash of salsa. The next day, it churned in the washing machine, hung in the balcony under the blistering heat of the sun for hours, before getting back on the top of the pile.
There it remained, ignored and forgotten, until one day, when it was packed and flown into the United States.
It hung in a closet among heavy sweaters and snow jackets. A year passed before I took all of my clothes and created a mountain out of them on the bed. I wanted to keep those that sparked joy (For those who don’t know what I am talking about, watch Marie Kondo: the art of tidying up).
When it came to the leopard print shirt, I held it and tried to recollect the song that was on at the fair when I bought it, of the conversation that I had with my colleagues while it was still new in my hands.
I recalled the many times, I sat staring at it, and wondering what to wear. The many cut outs of bags, jewelry and travel spots that the younger me had stuck on the inside of the cupboard where the shirt hung — a silent spectator of my dreams and desires.
Now, as I held it, its hands fell over its collar, as if it was stretching after years of rest.
I put it in a plastic bag, right on top of the rest. I went close, said a gentle goodbye and ‘Thank you’, before hanging a new sleeveless pink polo necked shirt in its place.