The wardrobe She had a dress for every occasion, in her colours, shapes and sizes. She kept all of those in a wooden cabinet. The kind we call a wardrobe.
It was a dark mahogany two-compartment oldie, with carved vines on its wooden surface. It belonged to my grandmother. She moved to live with us after my grandfather passed away. She brought it with her. It was a wedding present from her parents to adorn her new home, her new life. She had a great chunk of memories curved inside and out that wooden surface. It was like her treasure chest. Sometimes, she would just open it and stand silently for minutes. I wondered what she was looking at; all I could see was old clothes and blank spaces.
I have my shares of childhood memories stored in that wardrobe, too. I used to play hide-and-seek inside it. I remember the lazy summer afternoons when my grandmother used to take a nap. I would stand outside the wardrobe looking for the hidden treasure that my grandmother kept there. I was sure there was something, something I was missing! Sometimes, I would climb the shelves and look even deeper. There were also times when I would sit on a shelf to think about what treasure it could have! Sometimes I sat even for hours till it was almost the time for evening prayers. It felt safe, somehow.
I remember the day I fell asleep while sitting inside the wardrobe. My parents were looking for me everywhere. My mom was miserable. She cried and cursed everyone for being negligent to her baby, while my father looked for me outside in the alley, and my grandmother stood there like it was her fault.
The old lady felt helpless, and reached out to her wardrobe - the thing that still somehow reminds her of her good old days, when she had a home of her own, with a sense of strength and power. The smell of the old wood and varnish made her feel secured and capable, just like her husband used to. Sometimes, she feels like her husband is there somewhere in that dark belly of the wardrobe, hiding and taking a break from this insane world outside. She stands there for hours to catch a glimpse of him, or a scent of his breath, or a faint sound of his pounding heartbeat, maybe. She looks for a hint; she knows it is there, somewhere, somehow.
She opened the door to bring her special praying mat out. It was a wedding gift from her husband, and she only used to pray on it on very special occasions. She believed all the prayers made sitting on that are surely granted. The last time she prayed on it was on my grandfather's funeral. She prayed to the Lord to grant her husband the best of heavens, and to take her there as soon as possible, too.
When she opened the door, she found me sleeping there, rolled up like a house cat, resting my head on her precious praying mat. She looked up, thanked her Lord, and then to the wardrobe, she knew all along it was her treasure chest! She knew it! She smiled and screamed my mother's name the loudest she could.
Thus the precious praying mat became an heirloom to pass along; and of course the mahogany wardrobe.
(To be continued)
Mehnaz Tabassum is a Lecturer at the Department of English, East West University