The diaries

Last weekend, I spent an entire night going through my diaries. There are – were – six of them. I started writing diaries when i was in class 7. It was a habit i picked up from, of all people in the world, Betty Cooper. The first was a tiny little thing, with an astronaut on the cover, and a lock to keep my secrets safe from prying eyes. That night, when i was trying to get to the bottom of my chronicle-life-down-to-every-second urge, i realised i had lost the key to this one. At least this much was certain – no one of consequence was ever going to see what i had to say for my days when i was 13. It was a relief to know that only strangers would be in on this joke.
The following five were those official diaries, the kind you get as new year’s gifts from MNCs, with the year embossed in gold on leather bound covers, and the first 20 odd pages telling you all about the company. The pages are dated – and i stuck to writing in these chronologically, also attempting an exercise in brevity.
These were, in effect, my heart and soul. Or whatever i’d thought was closest to my heart and soul during my adolescence.
Mostly, this revolved around crushes, love, the beginnings of sexual adventures, friendships, heartbreak, proposals and propositions, frustrations with family, a lot of ‘nobody understands me’, ‘what is wrong with me’, other people’s misadventures… Honestly, the most inane, humdrum, everyday things that are of any significance only in the moments they are lived in.
I’d figured that if i keep it up – and i did for a whole 12 years before i finally gave up – i’ll eventually chance upon the meaning of life. I thought chronicling these boring truths, these lived realities, might some day give me an answer to those many existential questions that only multiply, never deplete, as we grow up. I even thought there might be material for a novel, a modern-day treatise on how we women of the 21st century live.
I found none of this – or if i did, it was too little to make for anything substantial. Now, it read like a little girl’s anxieties about the world she was born into, whining about this, that or the other. It sounded like a girl with attention problems. Like someone without friends to share things with.
Yet, i’d allowed 2 people in this whole wide world to read and write in it. Neither of them understood me despite this privilege.
There were others, including a couple of mothers, who read it too. They didn’t understand either. One went on to ruin a relationship i’d wanted to be in since i was 5. The other was my mother – and in this case, what she read was like acid on our relationship. It corroded its way down, and it took us a good six years to regain our trust in each other. The scars still show.
Eventually, i stopped writing diaries because what should have been chronicles and confessionals had become evidence against me. This wasn’t exactly the diaries’ fault – it was mine, for leaving them around casually. It was my world’s, for not allowing me my privacy, my secrets. What harm did i do to you if i got a little poetic about a kiss in the car on a rainy, romantic day?
It turned out to be a costly hobby. Did i figure out why i felt this urge to write my life down? Perhaps it was because i’m essentially a loner. An introvert. Shy. Unable to talk with people face to face. Perhaps it was because i felt no one was interested in what i had to say to them. Maybe it was because i’d felt this ordinary life was worth a few pages, that i should be allowed to write my own history.
Whatever the reason was, i did it. Sincerely. Stuck to it, kept going back to it, revisiting it. I’d stick roses in between those pages – and i had a lot of them. Now, they were charred, eaten through by the space and time around them. They were dead, not just dry – much like the pages they lay pressed against. Here was the graveyard of the life i’d lived so far – and i was haunted by it.
So, one by one, i ripped out the pages, tore them into tiny pieces, packed them off to the garbage dump in a giant plastic bag. All except the last one – the latest. The first entry in which is on January 1, 2007. And last, a mere 20 pages later, dated a few months ago. Seven years on one diary. Here i hesitate, but i can’t completely wean myself away from it.
I know i’ll never give up introspection – no matter how silly it might be. But i am wiser – i will never be candid like i once was. And it is the diaries i have to thank for this, and many other, wisdoms.


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