The Lost Tooth – A story through pictures
“It had been a tough week for Veera. Mishty, her cat, had died last Monday. Repeated warnings of her manuscript’s deadline by her editor, an argument with her 45-year-old mother over the phone, and Dhruv moving out of their place had squeezed out even the last iota of hope in Veera.
After days of brooding within the four corners of her house, which seemed to be more nauseating and suffocating than ever, she forced herself some red lipstick, her favorite gamboge kurta, and stepped outside. It was a bustling Tuesday morning; her first day away from Dhruv. One hundred and sixty six—she counted the number of cracks on the sidewalk from her apartment to Café Tête-a-Tête. Out of many other common favorites, Dhruv and Veera loved this place; it was too ‘them’, they both felt.
She ordered Twinning’s Chai Tea hesitantly, aware of the waiter’s curious eyes questioning Dhruv’s absence. Her deep reverie broken by the tea’s arrival, Veera stared at it with trenchant eyes- it seemed to stare back. It was not until the waiter started pouring milk in the cup that an uneasy thought struck her-how incredibly well did the hazel color of tea-and-water resemble Dhruv’s eyes! She used to tell him that they looked like black holes. A chill ran through leaving her in goosebumps. She recalled a line from Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil, she had read to bed last night,
“And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Her eyes then shifted to the bottom half of the cup which seemed to mirror her mind, the storm of thoughts building up stealthily inside of it. “Some days I do not know where I end and you begin”, her conscience spoke. She winced her eyes-aghast, and looked out of the café window, into the busy streets of Delhi. She pitied herself for the circumstances she was in. She was 22, pretty, well-read, financially secure-yet, somehow, melancholia had managed to squeeze in.
Just then, her phone beeped. It was a message from her mother who had recently learnt how to use WhatsApp. It was a picture from her childhood. Her mother wrote, “U were always an eye-smiler.” Veera looked at the picture again, with suspicion this time. A big grin broke all over her face- a first in the past one week. Her mother was right; her smile was contagious. This was the first picture from the imported camera her dad had brought from Nepal. She had lost her front tooth when she fell while cycling, when he was away.
Flashing before her eyes came all the times, when during her childhood, she played kit-kit with the street children till she got blisters on her soles; the summer vacations she spent reciting Wordsworth and eating mangoes and savoring the seeds till they turned pale; the times she worked harder for Olympiads more than school finals, just for the sake of medals. She then reminisced about how as a child she was always physically active and bright, which had given way to a teenager immersed in solitude to an adult struggling with the sole thing she loved—writing. She remembered her parent’s reaction when she told them about her decision to study English Literature after school; and how she’d met Dhruv on the very first day of college where she’d rescued him from getting expelled when he was caught trespassing the girls’ hostel mistaking it for the boys’.
She almost giggled out loud, and stopped midway wiping a tear from the corner of her eyes. It struck her now that all this while she had been looking for stories in the wrong places. The milepost of her story finally hit her and left her feeling as though the world had happened. Yes! this is it, she thought. The plot was perfect. She now understood what Basil Hallward had meant when he told Lord Henry that he had put ‘too much of himself’ in the portrait of Dorian Gray. A sigh escaped her mouth. The world felt better. She lifted her head up only to find that her tea on the table was no longer of the haunting brown color.
On her way back, Veera didn’t care to avoid stepping on the cracks on the sidewalk. She had two very important phone calls to make- one to her editor, another to Dhruv.”
Every aspiring writer goes through a similar phase. What you are struggling against now is what will make you a writer in the true sense. Veera found her story, and so would you.
P.S.: Yes, my front tooth is false.