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Heirlooms are magical words. They are passed on to generation after generations, with love and with care. Heirlooms are seldom tampered with, for the emotional value of those exceeds their material value. As of mine, I have endless of these valuables passed on to me by the most unexpected people at the most unexpected times. And these are what I call my keepsakes. The ones I carry with me in my bones, the ones that live under my skin, and the ones I’ll carry with me to my grave.

One of my very first memories being, of my mother who had just gotten back from the hospital after her delivery, and the first thing she did was to- lovingly put her newborn into the arms of the kid next door (our neighbour’s kid), who was rather worried that my mother won’t love her all the same, for then she had me. Ma still has that photograph and she still reminisces how once on her arms, there was no looking back. She became an elder sister, godmother and friend to me. Fiercely protective of me and my mother or rather ours, who has always been a steadfast believer in all the goodness in the world. She has always believed that the love you give is the love you receive; and that, one doesn’t need to be related by blood to be able to love someone with all they have. And this belief has formed the base of most of the strongest relationships in life.

My father was at the peak of his career, when I was born. Mostly traveling to places and living out for almost twenty-five days a month. Yet, on my birth, he mellowed down his pace. He took as much responsibility as my mother did. But more than that, he was there for me. For all the times, I refused to wake up without seeing his face; for all the times I fell down, broke my nose; threw a tantrum; for every small event at school and for patiently listening to every rant of mine. With him and for him, I learnt to stick around, to love unconditionally, to laugh the loudest, but be the warmest too. But most importantly, he’s taught me what true friendship is. What, being a constant or having a constant feels like. He’s been more of a best friend than a father, all my life. And that I guess is a rare gift, to have someone to get back to, no matter what.

I have always been inordinately lucky with people, from all walks of my life. I still remember my first day at office; how I dreaded eating lunch alone. Until he saw me, lone wolf, around the office elevator and sat me down. Unlike Facebook memes would want us to believe, in life, kindness is seldom thrown around like confetti. I can never forget and I often wonder how much of it my boss had in spades to take off time from his hectic schedule as a Senior Manager and eat with me- an intern, he barely knew. And if that isn’t what humble is, i don’t know what is.

This list is endless. Be it a bunch of strangers I met on a certain train journey, who called up to check on me and became family or a whole village that helped me find a cap that I’d lost or friends, teachers, mentors who have been always been so giving and so so loving. I believe that I am a bit of each person I’ve met, I’ve come across and I’ve loved. And I can probably do this series for an entire lifetime and maybe that too, won’t be enough. I know that someday I might just run out of words, but never out of love, for the ones whom I call home. The ones who’ve gifted me laughter, wisdom and lent me their shoulders to cry upon. The ones, that are my keepsakes.

The thing is, each one of them has taught me something anew, but one lesson in common and that is- there is no substitute to love and love can conquer the world. Love is perhaps the strongest binding force in the universe. However one might try to deny or dodge it, love will come find you, when it has to, and if you let it; from the strangest and the most unexpected places; and more often than not, it’ll leave you in awe of the wonders it does.

The question being, of all the money, all the fame, all the drama and the expensive diamonds rings- what do we take with us, beyond life?

They say that while we breathe our last, there are a few seconds of flashback- our last chance to revisit the life we’ve lived. And just to ponder upon, what would one rather see- the money he has made or the love he’s given and received? As of mine, I’d go with the latter and carry them in my bones; beyond life, beyond death and let them rust with me.

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