The Pink Notebook


I was at Crossword the other day, window-shopping with my Mom. We were bored of sitting at home and Crossword was pretty much the only place where my Mom and I could both enjoy a good hour or two of staring at things we have no intention of buying. I had a quick glance through the latest titles, completely ignoring the Non-Fiction and Chetan Bhagat sections and made my way deeper into the store. By and by I reached the stationery section.
Now the rest of this probably won’t make much sense to you if I weren't to tell you that fancy notebooks are one of my only vices. I have a large pile of them, half written in, and half untouched as I didn't wish to ruin them. It’s my “collection thing” as a friend of mine puts it. She herself has a large collection of key-chains while another friend swears by his collection of bottle caps. I'm rather proud of my quirk, as I fancy notebooks to be a hell of a lot more useful than key-chains and caps; but I promote their ridiculous behaviour anyway as it makes me seem sane by comparison.

But I digress.

The point is, notebooks are my weakness. Needless to say, my mind exploded with joy as I saw the 3 shelves packed with notebooks of all shapes and sizes. My Mom heard my squeal of joy, raised an eyebrow, rolled her eyes and walked away. Probably to look at the latest Mills and Boons Novels (bet she regrets that eye-roll now!). I began my examination of the notebooks feeling the pleasure of the connoisseur.

In the next 10 minutes or so I had mentally sorted out what I considered to be the “decent” ones of the lot. As I began the usual fight with my conscience regarding the wisdom of actually buying one, my eyes came to rest on a book I had missed in my preliminary examination. My arm reached for it as if in a trance. It was a ruled book with a soft leather cover. The front cover had embossed cartoon designs and a line from The Sound of Music, “These are a few of my favourite things!” A strip of leather served as a clasp with a concealed magnet. The pages had a pleasant off-white tinge to them.

It was perfect.

I felt like writing in it just by looking at it; I had never seen a more inspiring book in my life. I could picture it, full of stories and poems written by me, being discovered in the attic of some old mansion a hundred years later and people mourning the loss of such a (modesty aside) wonderful writer. There was just one problem.

It was bright pink.

Now, in a perfect world, this wouldn't be a problem at all, but right then and there, it made me stop to reconsider. My mind was immediately full of voices.

I could hear my Mom and Dad exclaiming, “But it’s pink!” in honest surprise while they exchange secret, worried glances seriously questioning their son's heterosexuality.

I could hear my male friends laughing at me for having something so blatantly feminine. Mocking me for claiming to be MAN while owning a pink book! If boys don’t cry, they definitely don’t own pink stationery.

I could hear my female friends going gaga over so “cute” a book. Subconsciously categorizing me as either a feminist or one of those “girly guys”, pushing me to the deepest recesses of the friendzone.

I could see myself bending to their criticism and opinions, probably burying or burning the book to erase all evidence of my heinous crime.  

I looked around guiltily and replaced the notebook on the shelf where it had lain peacefully before my lustful eyes had seen it. I walked away and went to find my Mom, I could not bear to stay at this store any longer. The cool air in the store felt oppressive, the books all around glared at me.
I let my lungs expand with the dusty, polluted yet comfortably familiar air as I stepped outside. 

Leaving the store had done nothing to ease the strange feeling of guilt coursing through me. What did I have to feel guilty about? It was the people around me who needed to change their world-views. I couldn't help what they thought.

Lost in my thoughts, I did not notice the scooter coming towards me as I crossed the road until it was far too late. I stared wide eyed as the bright yellow light came towards me, my ears ringing with the sound of a blaring horn. I felt the dull pain of the vehicle hitting me and dimly recall the sensation of flying through the air.
The next thing I was conscious about was someone splashing cold water on my face. I was lying on the side of the road, my Mom crouching by me with tears in her eyes. She sobbed with relief and hugged me when she saw I was conscious.

“I'm a’right Ma,” I mumbled and noticed another woman looking on with relieved eyes.

I wasn't hurt, just a bit sore from the fall. The tall, young woman came to me and apologized profusely for knocking me down. After 5 minutes of her apologising and me reassuring her that it was fine, she mounted her bike and rode off. A couple of onlookers who helped me get onto my feet shook their heads in sympathy and clucked their tongues.

“These women drivers! There ought to be a ban against them”
“I know. And did you see the clothes she was wearing? One of those new hi-fi girls. Absolutely no sense of decency.”

I heard their words through the haze of thoughts surrounding me. Something clicked in my mind. I asked my Mom to wait there and ran back to the store, taking care to look before crossing the road this time.
I barged into the store and sprinted to the stationery section where I found the pink notebook, exactly where I had left it, waiting for me. I grabbed it and took it to the billing counter.

I didn't buy it to be a rebel or to declare that I'm a feminist. I didn't buy it because I wanted to instigate anyone. I didn't buy it because I'm a girl at heart.

I bought it because I liked it and I couldn't care less what the world thought about it.

As I handed over the money to the cashier, I could feel Woolf, Friedan and Greer looking down at me and smiling.

Moral (In case I haven’t been clear enough) : Always look before crossing the road.