i'm an old Christmas card: red, green, and a bit of silver sparkling dust, lying in a pile of old photographs in your storage room in a box. sitting in the dark, my glimmer outshone by a thin layer of dust that settled on me night after night silently, hiding me from view - each time your wine glasses clinked above, each time a new voice was heard in your doorway, and was never heard again, and all the times you've come down here but never saw me, what kept me company were your termite-smitten photographs, also behind a layer of dust, also forgotten - a group of unfamiliar faces sharing their fading smiles, clad in torn jeans and shirts untidily tucked - forlorn like me. if you find me, i might not be as whole as i once was somewhere in two thousand. and it's unlikely that i'd survive amid a termite colony. but if you do find me, think of me fondly, i was your friend and i couldn't confess it then; that i thought of you often, and i always wondered if you thought of me too
“Why’d you quit?” “You shouldn’t have quit. Should have held on for some time and see,” the experts/ the-know-it-all-geniuses would tell me. Yes, I quit. Not for one, but for many reasons, I quit within two weeks from my first job.
Do my parents seem worried? Of course they are! Do others who seemingly or otherwise care about me look at me as if I’m not okay in the head? Sure they do!
The day after I handed in my letter of resignation, I was asked to join the Leavers’ Service in the Chapel. I remember this much from that day. I don’t know if it was God speaking to me through the words of the Chaplain, because it sure sounded as if it was all meant for me.
He spoke of a parable where ( if I remember this right) every villager, after having collectively dug a huge pond, was asked by their Master to fill it with one glass of milk before dawn. One villager opted to fill it with a glass of water since no one would notice it in the dark.
Surprisingly, however, at dawn, the Master saw that the pond was only filled with water. Evidently, every villager had assumed that someone else might fill it with milk.
“So,” the chaplain continued, “this is what happens when all of us assume that someone else might do what we ought to do ourselves”.
My eyes widened. Am I running away? Of course I am, I snapped at myself. But, am I running away unequivocally because I know that someone else might take my place and do my job? I couldn’t answer that question. I remained there for what seemed like hours, thinking my action through. I faintly recall the chaplain asking the congregation, “how are you serving your community? What is your glass of milk?”
That night, and in the nights that followed, the insides of my stomach kept twisting and churning every time I remembered “what is MY glass of milk? How do I repay what I’ve gained from seventeen years’ education?
Was my decision wrong? Even if it was, how could I wake up every morning and go to work as if I’m being dragged into my own execution? I felt sick, I realized I couldn’t eat properly, and I felt so alone.