Closet Of Memories - Ibad Ur Rehman
I was missing him.
I walked into our storehouse and pulled the curtains from the west side window to invite in the soft evening light. I looked around and saw the dust particles frolicking, under the golden rays of sun, to the music playing on my headphones, to finally settle on a crimson wooden closet leaning against the east wall. I knew where the brass keys to the forsaken closet were (how can I ever forget, although I try very hard to). I pulled them from the corners of a drawer in front of me, brushed the rust off and inserted them into the heart shaped keyhole of the closet. A draft escaped through the thin opening, as if the furniture had let out air after years of holding its breath. I stepped back a little. The doors flung open like two arms spread out, yearning for a long-awaited embrace, to reveal the contents within – 32-year objects that were kept hidden and hushed in the chest were emancipated from their bondage.
The song switched to Kelly Clarkson’s 2012 number.
There's a place that I know, It's not pretty there and few have ever gone.
The closet was spacious & dark, but dim shades of multicolored light pirouetted from the giant sunlit kaleidoscope still hanging from the center of the closet roof. The glass ball spun slowly. Peering through like curious Alice in Wonderland, I felt a deep & immediate comforting connection with the space and his belongings: it felt real. Reminiscence sent goosebumps down my arms. It was as if the closet grew on me, its world strangely familiar and happy. My eyes adjusted to the darkness inside while the outside became perceptively obscure to them. The music continued reverberating against my numbing ear drums with the words getting lost to a never-ending valley of echoes.
If I show it to you now, Will it make you run away?
Or will you stay Even if it hurts His childhood memories – a time of innocence – still hung from a rod that ran between the two side walls of the closet. A string of his mother’s old colored bangles, whose clinking was music to his ears. Her torn silk gown that had flown behind her as she walked like the princess from Sleeping Beauty. Pictures from his school: a little innocent boy in shorts (he disliked them) smiling away, holding a trophy. Sheets of illustration stapled together to form a dreamer’s story. Pom-poms he had enjoyed wearing to school sports day musical tableau (to Ricky Martin’s, ‘Maria’). The red shirt with strings he wore to the school’s Eid Milan party – he took a public bus for the first time alone in the early morning school hours, had found a seat in the middle aisle, and for the first time, had felt the gentle touch of another male passenger’s groins pressing against his shoulder as he stood holding a handrail. He was left trembling cold after the raw experience.
Ink-spotted college uniform from his days of adolescence – a time of discovery. He was healthier (172cm high, 38-inch waist). He had remembered the time he had felt aloof from his group of boys: he had recoiled hearing his friends commenting about his hefty jelly breasts, his chubbiness and being no-good for their sport team, “…he plays like a girl…”. Newspaper cuttings of his authored article, “The odyssey of a survivor of an unforgiving, world-shaking event”, with the his favorite line highlighted, “…there were shards of that was once splendor…”. His first knee-high shorts exposing hair on his leg – he had felt embarrassed and afraid of being judged. An unlabeled CD introducing him to something intimate that had sent electricity through his body, causing its temperature to rise, his heart to palpitate with ecstasy, his blood to surge between his legs where he felt wet, and his pants to tighten. Acts that followed remain privy to him and the closet, thereafter.
Even if I try to push you out Will you return?
As I pushed further through the clutter and separated the hanging contents left and right, I found a 10x16.18-inch dull glass screen that was cracked diagonally, perched dangerously at the edge of a loosely fitted nail on the closet back wall. From within the four borders of the mirror, he was staring back at me. His initial look of puzzlement turned to a mild pleasant smile.
He was missing me.
He invited me to revisit the self, to relive the moments, to accept, be home, back to the reality I had been trying to escape again and again, turn back time, to exonerate of the shame… into the darkness inside the closet, but there was light shooting out of the glass ball.
Gravity brought the kaleidoscope to a rest as a rainbow gleam of red, orange, green, blue and purple gradually introduced itself, one following the other, on the mirror image and reflected back on my face. Gravity dropped it in my gullet: His face turned poker, then slowly disbelief & sympathy permeated his expressions, or maybe there was also a pinch of sarcasm, disappointment, disdain mustered with sorrow.
And remind me who I really am?
Nightmares flooded in recalling things that I felt, saw, heard, tasted, touched and smelled. The mirror exuded a force of uncanny energy from the coincidental intersection of time past, present, and…
Everybody's got a dark side Do you love me? Can you love mine?
The mirror does not lie.
The power of the moment, the words and the emotions engulfed us: it was unbearable, torturous; the truth too heavy to bear.
Nobody's a picture perfect.
To protect myself from the gazes I could not return, I closed the door and, in that final moment, my eyes met his: they reflected helplessness and disbelief of a drowning victim, who was too tired of saving himself in the open sea, as he slowly goes under the surface of water with his hand out to reach his savior. They both knew he could be saved but the one outside chose not to extend his hand. He must stay inside, live inside. He must not come out of the closet. He must die here. I felt repulsive.
Will you love me? Even with my dark side?
I tried to push the rickety door hard with my shoulder but felt resistance: He was pressing to come out.
Don't run away Don't run away Just tell me that you will stay
A final force fixed the door deep and I was able to rewind the lock and quickly take the key out of the dark, black, heart-shaped keyhole. I tossed the key inside the drawers and slammed it close. The key flew back into the corner to be forgotten, again. I was sweating with panic and couldn’t breathe. I had sinned, again. I immediately pulled the headphones out of my ear while the music continued to play in a faintly audible hum.
There was light in the room. I heard the call of prayers. Before I could show myself out, into the normal, into the real world, I placed a kick on the closet hard and it cringed in response. Following the impact was a sound of something falling on the floor and shattering into many pieces…like a glass.
Every day, during the golden hours of the evening when the sun paints a yellow hue on the red colored wooden furniture, through the window, the rectangular closet flushes bright orange, as if it were on fire.
About Ibad: I am an IT guy (not a geek) by profession and an aspiring photographer cum writer at heart. I find writing as a means to express my deeper emotions generated in the process of self-discovery which continues till date. I thoroughly enjoy travelling, connecting with people who share compassion with humans and animals, trying out food and experiencing new things this world has to offer. A quintessence Gemini & a pluviophile, I enjoy my time away with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, Netflix, pop or Ghazal music, a book in hand or just staring out to sky while it pours. Family, friends and pets light up my world. My last wish would be to be able to see the Aurora.
You can reach him on instagram @rehmanibad or firstname.lastname@example.org