Manisha looked on as little Masha peeked out from her hiding place. She had been there for quite a while now, playing Hide n Seek with her friends. She did not seem to like this game much. Manisha observed that the little girl enjoyed and had fun as long as she was hiding, but hated it when it was her time to seek. It seemed to freak her out!
Manisha looked back into the old brown carton that lay before her with it's seal broken filled with old books as she sat on the verandah of her house. She did not like to call it her home. It didn't feel like one. No place felt like home anymore, not even her own. She realized she was staring into space and quickly shifted her gaze lest her neighbours think she was completely crazy. They already looked at her with a strange quizzical look cos she lived all alone and never had a soul coming over. It wasn't the case that she did not have friends. But she preferred being by herself.
As she brought back her attention to the books lying around, she took the one in her hand, brought it near her face and felt it against her skin. The familiarity felt good. But the pages smelt different now after so many years. Those were the collection of the journals she wrote. She flipped through it till she came across empty pages. She now observed something that made her chuckle. There was not a single book which was complete. She remembered how every year she started a new journal with a resolution to be regular. But that never happened. There was a new book every year, with few pages filled, now and then.
How similar it was to her life, she mused. She had begun so many things, but finished none. The adage 'Jack of all trades, master of none' seemed to suit her aptly! She shook her head and looked towards Masha again. She was still hiding, giving the seeker a tough time.
And then Manisha looked inside her house and now she was the one freaking out. She was doing exactly the same thing, wasn't she? She was hiding too, like she had done all her life. Only it wasn't Hide n Seek anymore. Cos people had given up seeking on her. She let a very few people into her heart and then they left. More came, more left. And now she did not let anyone in anymore, not in her heart nor in her house! She was scared, and so she hid. Hid in the comfort of her secluded self.
She got up from her place, and went inside her house and strolled about. Her things were all neatly organized. It was a beautiful place. But she did not feel comfortable living in her house anymore. It had always been empty, only now she FELT it. The emptiness crawled onto her like a long cold snake. It sent shivers down her spine. It was time now, she told herself, it was time she completed her journal, it was time she seeked!
With that, she looked back into the woods through her window and saw Masha being found from her hiding place. It was her turn to seek now, Manisha saw the scared look on the little one's face. As though she could suddenly sense someone watching her, she turned towards Manisha. The helpless innocent eyes on Manisha now, she knew she had got a second chance, for Masha was only a fragment of the memories of her childhood. She took a deep breath and mouthed at her eight year old self, "We'll get through this, i promise!"