I shifted into our new house on the 5th floor. It was quite an ascent considering the 1st floor that I was residing on till now.There was a small cosy little elevator. Its yellow paint had yellowed with age. However, it was as efficient as new. As soon as you press the desired level..whhooshh..voila..you reach your destination. To keep you company during this comfortable ride is your reflection in the big mirror. I was quite delighted at finding the mirror there on my first visit. You could give yourself a final thumbs up before leaving home for the day!
One day after returning from office I was shocked to see the elevator under breakdown. “Poor me!”. I thought and took a deep breath before embarking on the difficult climb ahead.
It was the first time after shifting to my new place that I was taking the stairs. After reaching the first floor, I realised that not every one had the privilege of open spaces on their landing as we had. One of the doors to the flats was open. I could see an armchair lying lazily in the balcony. The balcony was covered with green grass and the gulmohar tree branches were almost making themselves comfortable in that space This picture brought back in a flash a childhood memory of me sitting at the feet of my grand father, pleading him to tell a new story. He regaled my ever greedy mind with stories from far-off lands, of fairy tales, of characters I can meet only in my dreams, of movies and of personalities that I can aspire to be. Feeling light with that bubble from the past and with a smile, I continued my journey upwards.
As I reached the 2nd floor, a door caught my eyes.On it was the scribbled out-pour of love of an innocent mind eager to let her parents know how much she loved them.The stairs seemed to become a journey into the memories stored somewhere deep within. I remembered how as a child I used to feel unworthy of my parents love and that made me go into a shell laced with self pity and low confidence. My eyes started to well up at the thought of the pain that I inflicted on myself by feeling unloved. I wish I had just expressed myself like the little girl here. Life goes on though and I am still learning-learning to be less self critical and to accept myself as the imperfectly perfect human being that I am. I counted my blessings in the form of family, siblings, friends and strangers who had the patience to be with me as I evolved.
On the 3rd floor there was nothing remarkable. It was a very ordinary looking floor with domesticated look of flats beautified by the beautiful rangolis outside the doors and the corridor filled with aroma of home cooked food. This unremarkable floor made me crave for the ordinary, the relaxed, the lazy feeling of being at home waiting for the deceptively simple dal chawal served with fried potatoes and coriander chutney.
Feeling hungry, I hurried up to the 4th floor. I had to literally dodge the children running about playing chor-police. We are so controlled in our behaviour nowadays that its been ages that I have really screamed with joy like these kids. It is a bliss to be able to laugh with abandon and not to care.
I ran up the stairs leading to my floor. Running out of breath by now, I stood at the window near the stairs. The view in front of me literally took the remainder of my breath away. The cool breeze and clear blue sky uninterrupted by the terraces of the adjacent buildings was a welcome relief.
Happy, I moved to my floor and opened the door to be welcomed by the rustling of the leaves in the balcony and the curtains dancing in glee.
Taking the stairs today taught me an important lesson in life. Elevator was easy and comfortable.You meet new people in there if they come in at the same time that you are in them. Otherwise it is you and your reflection. It is the kind of modern life that we are leading now-closed, restricted, mechanical, suffocating and unhealthy.
Stairs are challenging. It is like learning the basics and strengthening the core..It is difficult and you may need help but at least you will be at a place where you will meet people to reach out to and not fall into darkness alone. It is like taking the untrodden path and being ready for surprises to shower you with experiences and new relationships. It throws at you the simple things of life which are beautiful yet forgotten because of our routine like existence. Let us take the stairs, write a new story and never stop the journey to experience something new.
By Jasmine Akhtar
Jasmine is a prolific blogger and has a way with words. You can find more of her writings at: http://life4random.blogspot.com/