The Little Book of Oblivion: Part One

by | Dec 10, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

The image cleared into that of an inconspicuous book with pink pages, each bearing the same message.

I entered our favourite cafe and picked her out immediately. Even from behind, she was as precious as a Van Gogh, and twice as valuable. How much is double priceless? I thought, gazing at the spreading curtain of golden hair. Although I knew it was from a bottle, I always recalled her response to my statement in that connection.

“It’s my identity.” As if she needed something to separate her almost unique beauty from the crowd. I say almost, for this enigma has a twin sister; an equally exquisite example of human perfection, cast from the same mould before it was destroyed forever.

I parked that notion of the hair, knowing how much it annoyed her, and pulled up the chair opposite. As she looked up from her book and smiled, the familiar feeling returned. My remaining senses stepped up a gear, to join the visual experience that was her physiognomy. I strolled through the Jasmine orchard that was her face, sniffed the fragrance that was her eyebrows, tasted the nectar of her eyes, and felt the touch of the leaves that was her almost oriental nose. The melody of the greeting emanating from her lips caressed my ears.

“Hello. How are you Azizam?” The last word turned the nectar of Jasmine to honey on my tongue. She got up to hug me and I steeled myself. Can you imagine trying to reciprocate the embrace of a single rose? If you can envisage the hug in the first place. Such is the sensation that is her close physical contact.

“All the better for seeing you,” I stammered. The words left my mouth and fell to the ground like lead shot. Her smile broadened at my flat response. She was aware of what she did to me.

“So, tell me about your depression. How did you find out? What did I tell you?” The previous tender expression had been jettisoned in favour of triumph, with a hint of concern.

“It’s early days, but I’m working on it. I’ve been given some coping mechanisms,” I replied, still basking in the lingering spell of her presence.

“Such as?” She clipped, pinching her chin between thumb and forefinger. Her charm continued.

“I have to keep a journal. You know, like a diary but more about my feelings rather than events,” I continued.

“What a great idea, Azizam. Journaling is one of the most effective ways to address mental illness.” She bounced in her chair, exuding enthusiasm at my comments.

“I guess I need to find a suitable journal,” I responded.

“May I suggest something?” She took her phone and began scrolling through the screen. Suddenly, the orchard was bathed in sunlight as she found what she was looking for. I was blinded. Triumphantly, she held up the phone to my face and I squinted, trying to focus. The image cleared into that of an inconspicuous book with pink pages, each bearing the same message.

Feel better? Now throw it in the trash and move on.

That was my introduction to The Little Book of Oblivion.

We shared the usual magical afternoon of conversation and empathy. All too soon, it was time for her to go. She had to meet her fiance: yes, she was engaged and I was happy, because she was happy. My love for her had always been unconditional; it would never be soiled by a relationship.

As I sat on the crowded Metro, reminiscing about her rich feast of sensory offerings, I checked out the link she’d sent me. In tiny red letters below the image, it read, only one remaining on this site. Hastily, I selected, “Buy Now,” and slid the phone into my pocket.

***

The days passed but her presence remained in my memory like the faint trace of Jasmine scent. The little book disappeared into the swirling thoughts of dealing with newly diagnosed mental illness. It only returned to the fore when landing on my doormat with a knowing thump. Tearing open the packaging, I recalled the picture on her phone, which now corresponded to the tiny book in my hand.

Inside the front cover, nestled a folded piece of paper, in the shape of a bird. Could it be a swan? Or was it more generic? A goose perhaps, or, God forbid, a duck? Each crease and corner was geometrically flawless. I unfolded the package with the excitement of a child at Christmas. The writing therein challenged my myopic sight. The miniature read as follows…

Thank  you for choosing to shop at the Emporium of Memories. Please follow  the instructions below to obtain the best results from  your selection.

Below this were a series of directions, in bold type:

  • Only record the memories you want to despatch to oblivion
  • Include as much detail possible, however painful
  • Minutiae is important
  • Start with something trivial, like ‘what I did yesterday’
  • Do not forget to discard the page
  • Good Luck and move on

I selected my favourite pen, the one her nemesis had bought me. Opening the book I observed the words at the bottom of the first page. Calling to mind the first bullet point, I commenced recording yesterday’s events – nothing. The page was blank as the nib blindly scratched on the pink paper. That’s strange, I thought. I had just recharged the pen that morning.

I swapped the pen for another, the black Sheaffer my brother had given me. The words flowed on the page like the blades of a figure skater on ice. When I’d finished recording every detail I could remember about the previous twenty-four hours, I promptly ripped the page from the book, crumpled it into a ball and deposited it in the kitchen swing- bin 

I put down the pen and closed my eyes to think. Not one tiny detail could I recall from yesterday. Tuesday, yes. However Wednesday 6th December had been swallowed in a cloud of mist.

I know, I’ll read about it. That’ll bring it back, I pondered.

Taking the tiny pink ball from amongst the tea leaves, I pulled it open, to reveal a blank page. Even the pre-printed message had disappeared. I placed the creased sheet on the table and inhaled slowly. The strong smell of fresh Jasmine filled my nostrils.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Is this memory just a one off and back to the Doctor tomorrow?

    Reply

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