Free

 Free

As Tanya turned the metal handle to open her treasured locker, its door squeaked and creaked before opening, holding the burden of years of memories inside of itself, like a grandmother preparing her almost toothless, shapeless mouth before telling tales of old times, to her grandchildren. 

There were her old diary entries within, belonging to the 2010s. There were poems in there, and unfinished novels, articles, short stories and discarded submissions. It was an aspiring writer’s hoard. And so had Tanya been, an aspiring writer through the 2010s. 

Of course, after that, the things got hazy and speedy. It was like flipping through a comic, watching only a flurry of pictures and making whatever sense of it that was possible. 

Tanya started a business “after that” in the textiles industry, got some women from poor societies who had skill in stitching and did the usual empowering-the-women-by-giving-them-work that was trending at the time. And she used her skill at writing to get her business going. 

She never came to know when “Tales and Tiles” became a brand from a business. All Tanya had done was tweak her idea of textiles. All the clothes manufactured under “Tales and Tiles” had a story behind them. “Every thread has a tale” was the company’s motto, after all. And Tanya wrote that tale, with a team of five other writers. 

In Tanya’s comic book of a life, another brief moment or two of that flipping was the present. 2028. Where she was one of the leading businesswomen. She had her own house, a chain of industries in various major cities of India and a few branches abroad as well. What else did she need? Well, she needed tears even though she refused to believe it. And the reason she had never cried since 2020? Never shed tears? 

It was tied to end of the time when “weak” and “I hate crying” and “I can’t help it but I want to” and “I’m trying” and similar statements of teenage desperation reflected in her diary entries. The end of 2010s. 

Tanya felt like that was the cover page of her life, that period that she had looked at to her heart’s content. That period, the end of which marked the end of the weakness she had so desired to get rid of. That had transformed her into a headstrong woman.

At the moment, searching in her locker, Tanya came across her diary entries of 2020 and accidentally found it. 21st August, 2020. That date that tasted like too much salt in her mouth. Her 18th birthday. Her mother’s death…and her mother’s last words, “How will you survive, being the weak girl you are? I love you but even though I want to, I cannot be with you always”. And finally, after 8 years of detention, the much-needed tears, a noose in her neck, a knot in her chest, flooded down Tanya’s dried cheeks and finally, Tanya felt free again, heaving off her burden after long. Free!

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