The Pink Notebook – On the occasion of Doris Lessing’s death
[There were four notebooks. The first one lemon, the second navy, the third a clear colour, the last one pink. Mary began with the lemon notebook, thinking that it would be her life’s work. But it was not. Like most passions, it sparked off like no other, then died down like all else. Three years, and she no longer looked at it anymore. Then Mary began the navy notebook, carefully bound with a textured woodfree card and black satin ribbon. It had an even shorter life span, and was now entirely forgotten. The more intense the passion, the stronger the resolution to forget. As for the clear notebook, she intended to make something out of it, but time had outlived her passion, and she forgot about that too. And then there was the pink notebook. It was a nice cloth-bound notebook from IKEA. The colour was a shocking pink. Choking shocking pink. As with the previous notebooks, the pink notebook also carried a certain fatalism with it. The last notebook, the pink notebook, began in densely written characters in blue ink:]
Today I read about Doris Lessing’s death through Facebook. Nowadays all news come to me through Facebook, in the form of shared links. I am lucky to have friends who share news about Doris Lessing. I learnt that you receive most news feeds from those with whom you interact most. That means if you keep LIKEing and SHAREing and COMMENTing a certain friend, you not only keep yourself informed of his/her activities, you also keep he/she informed of your own activities. From that I learnt to stay away from some people. People who can hurt you just by appearing on your news feed, by giving you a well-meaning smiley emoticon.
But today I saw a post other than the news about Doris Lessing. I had not been seeing that person’s posts for some time now, and I had had a hard time resisting the temptation. It was a beautiful photograph. Not technically. It was blurred, unphotoshoped, just an ordinary snapshot by any ordinary smartphone. But it was beautiful, because the subject, a young girl in a black dress ice skating, was beautiful; and the person who took the photograph, a young man, undoubtedly in black as well, took the photograph lovingly, and that was beautiful. Because I saw that the young girl, who used to be a little eccentric tomboy, had changed into a little black lady for him; and that the young man, who used to be an angry nihilist, had softened for her, and all that was beautiful. So beautiful you could not wish it otherwise. So beautiful it hurt. And I had stayed away for over two years now, just to spare myself the pain of looking at this.
But even that was not enough. There were times when I felt like choking to death, that I had to let my pain out, and I remembered my three notebooks, the three caskets of forgotten secrets. Two years had passed before I opened the fourth notebook, the pink notebook, and poured out my desperate and suicidal thoughts. I would then enjoy a period of serenity, before the next attack came unannounced. While I scrawled on the white pages I thought of how I would be working on it for the next 36 years, and imagined the scenario in which the notebook would be discovered and my secrets revealed. I swore to myself that nobody should learn of my secret until the day should come, 36 years later, and the notebook would be testimony to my passion. I would either be mad then, or have forgotten about all the notebooks.