Slowly climbing up the old, rusty ladder, Maera peeked into the attic. Like all other attics, this one was strewn with boxes full of nothings, old rugs and reed mats, childhood memorabilia and random objects like a broken generator.
She wiped off the sheet of dust collected on one of the boxes and carefully opened it. Coughing slightly, she looked at the contents. There were “class photos” from grade one to grade 12, handmade greeting cards from “friends” in school and university and a bunch of “love” letters from a boy who she and her girlfriends called “Leech” because he refused to just let her be. Maera wondered why she still had these.
Buried within the box, there was an old family photo. Her mother, father, sister and her. They were laughing… something really funny must have happened, she thought. The last time they had all been together, was Diwali, a couple of years back. Her sister had flown back from The Netherlands with her husband. Maera had taken a week’s leave from work. She returned in three days.
Another photo. Her, Ronnie and Kevin grinning at the camera, showing the peace sign. Beneath the picture, there were two friendship bands they had given her in the last year of uni. They were both married now and had wives they were very happy with. She called them sometimes but nowadays they only talked about the unbearable heat or of work.
Maera put everything back in the box and looked around. Memories of the past came tumbling back to her head as she closed her eyes and swayed through frames of time and places. Seconds later, she opened her eyes and she was back where she was.
She heard the phone ring, downstairs and rushed to pick it up.
“Evening… Am… I speaking to Maera?”
“Yes… and who might you be?”
“Happy birthday! I’m SK, remember me?”
“Um, no… I think you’ve got the wrong person. I don’t know anyone by that name and today isn’t my birthday.”
“Oh… phone book FAIL, then. Good day.” Click.
The oven beeped impatiently from the kitchen indicating that the pasta was done. The fan on the ceiling whirred comfortingly. The needle on the clock struck 12 with a rather loud “tick”.
Maera walked to the cold bed that beckoned her with its white sheets and demons from nightmares. Tomorrow, she would be reborn from her ashes. “Happy Birthday, Maera”, she said to herself and closed her eyes.