Three words in bold, capital letters, written on the back of a flimsy invoice (the kind you get at a generic medical store), is taped on the glass of my window, since the day I heard there was someone accepting writing on the same, in the hope that looking at it often, should prompt me to put down, if not for you, for me, something about one of these, or maybe a little of each.

What did prompt me however, was a small clip my brother shared with me this evening, a little backstory on a visual motif used in a cinema I loved. As I write this now, the soundtrack from the movie plays in the background, and a lot comes back. Would I have felt as strongly about the same, had we not been living in such strange times? I remember a friend once saying to me, how the best thing about Bombay is that it didn’t give you time to think. Every emotion seems heightened somehow. An hour or so ago I was on a phone call that left me with a similar feeling, of something left in the past clawing its way back.

Anyway, coming to the clip he shared. I think it reminded him of how something had once so deeply moved within me, when I first came across that story - as I delved into its paperback and then saw it come alive on screen. Since I was a child, most of my time had been spent in company of characters and lives and cities different from mine. From the safety of my home, in the comforts of my quilt, an insight into the world through yellowing pages and DVDs. I was naturally fond of them, but this was something else. I had never felt more understood (I must have been 17 then) than in the page after page of highlighted lines of a mouldy, musty second-hand copy, of my favourite book; and how I hoped and dreamed to nudge my life in the same direction (as bibliophiles often do), in the direction of that same enduring, unforgiving, pure sense of adventure.

And if it had moved me so, more people had to know. The book circulated (it’s still moving, I swear), the torrent downloaded, the soundtrack shared.

I am 24 now. And different from that day. An accumulation of added experiences. Something has changed - between changing cities and finishing college, between people that stuck around and people that left (and some we can’t let go of still), between laughing and longing and alienating and belonging; somewhere between late nights and early mornings, although which nights and which mornings is hard to say - something changed. Little by little, piece by piece, moment by moment, something put together, something pulled apart, and put together, every day.

The ship of Theseus.

A random glimpse into an effaced memory brings back longing for a piece that was taken apart. And at the same time can instill hope for the shape you could still some day take on. Where did we begin from? Who am I now? A sum total of roots and branches, of experiences and endeavours. Of hope and loss. Something beautiful taken apart for practicality. Some fortification for a fear of the high seas. Something necessary, that didn’t quite fit.

Some days continually ‘becoming’, and on others so far from being, that which I had thought would become of me. Or does all of becoming feel like this? Must the ground always change before we find our feet? Is that the essence of becoming? Are we ever truly found, truly complete?

Why does this evolution bring unease? Is it the unpredictability of the future, of learning loves and beliefs and dreams are challenged, and change? Or is it knowing, that in every piece replaced, until one can no longer recognize the ship at all, at its core is still a girl at 17, highlighting another line in a worn out book, and a light shines in her eyes.

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