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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui


I used to write down names on the first page of every notebook I owned.

Family. Friends. Colleagues. Mentors. Collaborators.

Names and numbers.

Like they hadn’t invented phones to rid you of the responsibility of writing things down.

Depression always meant the loss of memory for me. I know a lot of people experience it in a similar way. Forgetting things. Being unable to see life as a series of non-equidistant moments embedded in mundane experience. Depression is an untethering. Like being cut off from the mothership. Floating where nothing matters. The horizon is a lie. And there is no fuel left to propel you towards it anyway.

That was when that first page came in handy. Like a cheat sheet of being. It reminded me. Of things to do. Of people to call. Of a world that managed to do just fine without me. But one that would miss me if I disappeared nonetheless.

It had to be true. I had it in writing.

The list changed notebook to notebook. Names were erased. Burned out. New ones were added. Sometimes the list was just my mother. Sometimes it extended to a few pages. I like big books. Yes, I cannot lie. Big books, A4 sheets, 500 at a glance. Unruled. Because lines on paper confuse me. Constrict me. Well, at least they used to. I order them special. The point is, changing a notebook happened once in a while. And each notebook then became a compendium of my relationships and growth. Measured in the space between the first page and the last. Between the present and the past.

I remember carrying these notebooks to meetings, rehearsals, and even when I went down to smoke (secretly) at the small coffee shop near my parents' house. And opening the book was a moment of pause before the confrontation with reality. A rooting to earth when floundering for breath.

It’s strange the rituals we invent without thinking. The act of committing something to paper is profound. It makes it real. Not just the existence of a support system. But my acknowledgment of it. Because writing things down meant I was committing to what that writing represented.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not the list in my notebook. But also the lists - written and unwritten - that my name lives on.

Because memories are co-created. So, one of us will always remember enough to remind the other.


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