Moving out of that old home was not easy for Sarah. She was now married and had to go to her husband’s house to live in. While she adjusted to every place and situation just as easily as any liquid taking the shape of its container, there was one corner of the house she had grown in that she missed a lot. The balcony.
Her old home’s balcony was a box full of memories for her. A place where she had made her first friend, a pigeon. Sarah reminisced the time she used to wait for the playschool to get over every day so she could rush to the home, throw her school bag on the bed, and hurry to the balcony to see her friend. How she would get scolded by her mother for running all over the house without removing her school shoes. Soon after, the pigeon lay two eggs in the balcony’s corner where it had built a not-so-perfect nest for itself. As a kid, Sarah would get impatient and kept asking her parents as to when the eggs would hatch. Once, one of the eggs slipped from the so-called nest and the helpful baby Sarah picked it up and placed it on those untidily put straws of the nest ignoring her mother’s word of caution. Little did she know, the birds disown the eggs that come in physical contact with human beings! She had learned her first lesson in that balcony, that not all acts of kindness are admired by everyone in this world.
Days passed, and Sarah’s first guilt was soon forgotten when one morning she woke up to see a little yellow-coloured baby of the pigeon. “Momma, can I now touch the baby or would the adult pigeon still disown it if I pick it up in my hand,” Sarah inquired. “Yes, you can. Just be careful beta, momma-pigeon might hit you with her beak,” her mother replied from the kitchen. She would now enjoy feeding every meal to the baby pigeon, her new friend, in the balcony. As soon as Sarah realised how fond she became of the baby pigeon, it was time for the bird to leave the balcony and take a flight into the sky so vast. Coming back from the office in her new house, Sarah recalled how much she had cried the day she did not find the baby bird on her balcony and mother broke the news of the now grown-up pigeon’s first successful flight after days of failed attempts. That balcony in her old house was not just a part of the house but a small glimpse of life’s hardships or reality, Sarah was now thinking while going down the memory lane.
Walking the path of subconscious brought a zillion instances flashing in front of Sarah’s eyes. From all those ‘Chanda-mama’ stories Sarah’s grandmother would tell her at night before going to the bed which would keep her awake in her dreams, to all the celestial facts about ‘moon – the natural satellite of planet earth’ her grandfather would teach. From witnessing Sarah hopping on its railings to see the endless number of trains pass by, to the numerous planes she would goodbye. From Sarah’s little dance moves to the music playing in the locality on some festive occasions, to the times she would be lost in thinking while observing the city lights near the shore. From the punishments of standing in the scorching sun Sarah would get, to the calmness of her face after smelling the soil drenched in rains sitting on the rocking chair. From the gossips Sarah shared over the phone calls with her friends, to the secrets of her mind wandering in the world of literature she would read. From the extreme moments of joy when Sarah would laugh her heart out and couldn’t stop smiling ear-to-ear, to the moments of vulnerability and weakness when she would let her tears roll. From the mischief wherein Sarah had thrown off her mathematics answer sheet with poor grades, to the earnestness of admitting to the harmless ill deeds to her mother. From baby Sarah’s words of comfort to her father she had seen crying for the first time after her grandparent’s death, to the joy of the family welcoming her little brother. From all those times Sarah would fight, play, laugh, share, care, conspire, and giggle with her younger sibling, to all the lectures, motivation, guidance, hugs, and understanding between them… it had witnessed all and a lot more. The balcony was indeed more than just a favourite place or a part of the home for Sarah.
Next morning, waking up next to her bedroom’s window with the hot cup of coffee being served by her loving husband, Sarah smiled thinking how lucky she was to have him by his side. However, a part of her went back to the times when they used to sip a cup of tea each prepared by herself in her old home’s balcony when her husband (then boyfriend) used to visit her. Their love bloomed in that open-corner of her home where they stole many kisses and romanticised their lives together. “Are you even listening to me,” Sarah’s husband asked seeing her lost smiling face. “Yes, yes. Very much listening,” prompt came her reply with a nod, just as she used to do earlier, during their long balcony conversations, looking straight into his eyes with a sparkle in hers. Apart from teaching harsh life lessons, the balcony was also her cupid in her little fairytale after all.
In the four years of courtship before tying the knot, Sarah had spent countless days chatting with her partner in the balcony. Sometimes, they would even lose count of time and realise that the day has ended only when they saw the sun disappear below the horizon. Their endless talks would still continue as they gazed at the moon and the stars, and feel gentle breeze do the talking in their moments of silence. Sarah wasn’t a hopeless romantic, but she always believed in living the moment to the fullest and seizing the most of it. She cared about making the firsts memorable and loved throwing surprises. That balcony had also witnessed her efforts to make their first Valentine’s Day unusual by filling it up with colourful balloons, candles, cake, and ice-creams. They had had their first candlelight dinner under the moon in that favourite place of her house. That balcony was love that Sarah had never fantasised about.
It was Sarah’s first birthday after marriage, her husband gifted drove her to the outskirts of the city and gifted her a key to their new home that stood in front of them. Surprised, Sarah was spellbound and her eyes glittered. “You know… you never said… never complained… I know… I can read your mind,” he tried framing a sentence, failed; then smilingly point at the house and said, “This one has a BALCONY.”