Dubai Diaries: Why are firsts so special?
We tend to hold on to memories of experiences that we had for the very first time.
Good things always come to an end. Okay, understood. No arguments there. But why do they have to end so fast? Why can’t a holiday stretch itself like a saggy elastic? Instead, it speed-crashed into a calendar cul-de-sac, crushing and crippling my leave days for the rest of the year. “I am going to miss this house, Amma. All the swank and glitz of Dubai cannot put me in such ease,” I told my mom as I stuffed my suitcase with the special curry powder she had sourced out for me. “This is the first house we bought. Our house. I fell in love with it at first sight. Please don’t sell it… even after we are gone,” mom said or rather appealed but with a tone of authority. I nodded politely and dug into her Godrej almirah to assess her sartorial collection. Many of her silk sarees are sulking in the cupboard as her outings have come to a standstill thanks to the virus. “What about this one?,” I clutched a pale orange and yellow printed saree. “That is the first saree that your dad gave me. I will never throw it away.” Then there was another one that my elder brother gifted her with his first salary. A decaying leather bag, an old jewellery box, an empty perfume bottle, … her cupboard is a warehouse for the relics of her best cherished memories. The ransacking was a revelation. Everything that she holds on to dearly are the firsts of some kind.
Why is the first time so special? Obviously not because it is invariably the best. But any firsts in our life claim a special spot in our heart. First love. First kiss. Enough ink has already been spilled glorifying the first time when our heart sang at the sight of someone. So, I am not going there. But the first car that we bought. The first job. First salary. First trip with friends. I think our life is a litany of firsts that we string on the thread of our memory. And we keep adding more and more strands till they sag under with the weight of all the things that we have experienced. Maybe then comes the time for us to kick the bucket? I did not dare ask my mom that question. “Keep the alarm for tomorrow early morning,” mom said to ensure that I catch my flight on time.
When I said goodbye to her next morning, I remembered the first time I flew to Dubai. That was many, many moons ago. My whole family was there at the airport to see me off. We were all choking with emotions of different kinds. Me with the excitement of setting off on a journey of marital bliss. My parents with the agony of letting their only daughter leave. But now, we are used to me coming and leaving after a short stay. There are no tearful adieus. Only gentle entreaties to come back soon. There are certain things that you wish didn’t have a last time, so that we can always remember the first time.