For someone with the attention span the same as that of a five-year-old on their fifth cookie, it is only natural that I carry a small notebook around with me. That and the fact that I have a disgusting habit of scribbling practically anything on my hand- dates, grocery lists, assignments, writing prompts and much to my friend’s dismay, names of the people I have to call. ‘WhY dOn’T yOu UsE yOuR pHoNe?’ Mostly because I like the whole jot-on-a-paper routine. It is old-fashioned and in my opinion, one of those delicate day-to-day rituals that are slowly (and unnecessarily) edging out of our lives. With that said, I am quite indignant and stupefyingly unsurprised by how inefficient it proved to be.
Running monthly errands, I’m sure most agree, is the most common yet of paramount significance. If you’re one of those who brings just enough of rations to last for the exact span of 28-30 days and not a moment after, you very well know how stressful the 31st day can get. Admittedly, I am one of those people. I have my reasons. So there it was, the 30th day and I made a list in my trusty notebook. A convenience store was at a walkable distance from college and I was all but determined to walk the mile and drag the (relatively) fresh supplies home. Or so I thought until it struck 4 PM and I realised that I had forgotten my notepad on my desk where I sat to write the list in the first place. A wave of alarm washed through me as I frantically called mum, hoping she’d receive my call. The stars be blessed, she did. Explaining my predicament and getting the ‘don’t worry, I’ll send it right away’ reply calmed my nerves as I strut to the store in a confident gait. As minutes passed, the lack of response on her part made me suspicious until I was alerted of a long text that was indeed a soft copy of my list. My darling mum had seemingly forgotten the use of the miracle device that is the inbuilt camera on her smartphone (adults).
Unfazed, I proceeded to drop my requirements into a shopping basket and was in a state of nonchalant oblivion until I made it through three-quarters of my ‘list’. A single word was casually sat between ‘toothpaste’ and ‘whiteboard marker’: Rectangle. Yes, that was the word, the very same word used to describe a harmless quadrilateral with four right angles. But that day, it was the most bizarre and persistent form of annoyance (further building up to discomfort) that plagued random moments ever since. Overestimating my ability ‘to figure it out’, I continued to shop while this unrequired wordplay unceasingly prodded my thoughts. Roughly half an hour later, I was done with my shopping and my patience had worn thin; my basket felt heavier than it was and I had was running out of aisles that I pretended to browse while I racked my mind. What was ‘rectangle’? I called my mother’s cell only to be shut down by a message that said I was out of balance (end of the month, remember?). Texting her was another useless endeavour as she seemed to be nowhere near her cell at that moment; for all that mattered she might as well have been on a cruise to Sri Lanka. Spending another half hour circling the aisles, I knew I had to give up on this futile quest as one of the customers assumed I worked there and proceeded to ask me where the baby shampoos were kept. I remorsefully told her exactly where to find them and hurried to the cash counter without looking back lest she asks me details on diapers.
Hopping into a rickshaw, I had never been as happy as I was then to reach home. My sentiments on this matter were quite direct: “I don’t know, and I really don’t like not knowing” (11th Doctor, Doctor Who) and I was determined to see this through. Hauling my bags, I scrambled to my desk, snatched my tacky little notebook and nearly ripped the pages off their bindings as I was preparing myself to read the most obvious item scrawled, only to be greeted by a squiggle. That’s correct. It was a squiggle which began with an ‘r’ and ended with an ‘e’ with what appeared to be a ‘g’ and ‘l’ tossed in between. Illegible handwriting had never caused me much inconvenience until that day. What in seven hells was ‘rectangle’? I must stress, on how much of an irritant this has become in my day-to-day activities. Randomly, I catch myself thinking about how I will never know what ‘rectangle’ is. The fact that it was something other than my usual monthly supplies, leads me to believe that it was one of those spur of the moment add-ons which I will never have the satisfaction of beholding. Watching a re-run of Friends, I came across Phoebe Buffay’s lesser known but still iconic ‘Flimbys’- a word she uses when she cannot remember the real thing (Friends, 3.22). Unlike Rachel, who frustratedly sighs and walks away, I do not possess the luxury of ‘letting-it-go’. Not only have I permanently etched ‘rectangle’ in my conscious mind, but I have now developed a distaste to the very word. As far as shunning of innocent polygons goes I’m off to the races, all because ‘rectangle’ will forever remain an unravelable mystery.