Usually I read my older blog posts and occasionally I glance at those Facebook memories and smile (sometimes cringe) at the snippets from the past that I have shared with my world.
But today, I found a trigger in the most unexpected of places: My e-mail inbox.
It was while I was looking for a cab receipt that my eye idly glanced at the storage limit mentioned at the bottom of the page. With a start I noticed that I’d used up 13 GB of my 15 GB space! How on earth did I manage to do that? Man, I must write a lot! Or take many photos. Or maybe I have people who send me large attachments. What can I say? I’m popular (*sarcasm alert!).
One of the ways to de-clutter your inbox when it’s overflowing is to find files that are larger than, say, 10 MB and filter them out. While doing this, a series of mails with photographs popped up and as I opened each one, a flood of memories was unleashed. Before I knew it, an entire hour had passed while I went back and re-read each mail, savouring the effect it had upon me.
Scrolling through the images was akin to looking at a much-loved photo album, after dusting it off from the corners of a forgotten wardrobe. After a while I began to read the e-mails that went with the photos and found something even more precious.
Catalogued details of my pregnancy, my baby shower and the birth announcement of my daughter.
In that instant, I paused,took a deep breath and allowed myself to soak up the moments as they tumbled out of the confines of my weighty mail folders. Quickly, I keyed in the words ‘Shailaja’ and ‘pregnancy’ and watched as the screen lit up with every exchange I had ever had with friends and family on the joy of welcoming a new soul into our lives.
Within the span of an hour, my eyes crinkled up in laughter or crumpled with grateful tears at the words of every soul who had congratulated me. Some family members who delighted in the announcement and who wrote to me are no longer with us and it felt like a squeeze of the arteries as I re-read some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
Friends who sent messages of love and shared broken stories of their own, since they were unable to conceive tugged at that maternal corner of my soul. Others who kept in touch regularly back then but have now faded into the disquietude and rigour of modern life prompted me to look them up to see what they were doing today.
It was also a very sombre exercise as I realised that it’s been 10 years since I’d received these mails and there they were, safely tucked away to be retrieved years later. This was before Facebook had taken over or Twitter had started to hold sway so e-mail was the ideal way to keep in touch. Long, loving mails that captured the essence of joy and happiness one person feels for another- this made for wonderful reading.
It was with complete astonishment that I realised Gy will turn 10 this year. Ten. That seems like such a big leap into another decade. A decade is a lot when you think about it. We grow old, we make new friends, we break it off with some of the old, we evolve as people, succeed in some ventures, fail miserably at the rest.
And in the quiet of the night, as I read these missives of love, longing, gratitude and empathy, somewhere it struck me that these are precious. These bridges of love that connect the past with the present, are more relevant than we know. Through them I hope to re-connect with that me from 10 years ago and tap into the vibrant, excited mom-to-be who looked forward to the entire parenting game with anticipation and excitement.
On the days when I feel frustrated, annoyed and completely fed up of having my daughter roll her eyes at me, stand her ground in defiance or walk away from me in an argument, these e-mails from the past will remind me that I was chosen to walk this path of motherhood.