Writing Task 3: Writing through Objects (one we have lost)
I peered into her bag, content at seeing my phone, I.D and bank card nestled amongst her purse and receipts. All was well. I raised the glass to my lips, tipping the amber fire down my throat. We fluffed our hair one last time and ventured into the night, joining the students town-ward bound. The hours slurred into each other until I became aware of cotton on my cheek and numbness in my limbs. Yep, I had ended up at home, face down on my bed again. With one eye closed, I sought my phone and other essentials. A flash of silver on my hideous bottle-green sofa betrayed its whereabouts, a moment before I gave in to the alcohol-induced slumber.
I finally surfaced from my comatose state some hours later. I sat up, regretting the harsh movement as my stomach rebelled. As the spinning room levelled out, my hand curled around my phone on the sofa, brushing the cool plastic of my I.D which I shoved inside the purse I had left neglected on the floor. My hand reached back for my bank card, anticipating the thin grooves of my name to glide against my fingertips like braille. Instead, they were met with the rough upholstery of my ancient sofa, coarse rather than smooth, fabric rather than plastic.
In that instant I was wide awake. My sleep-fuzzed brain cleared as I scrambled for my bank card. Running into the hall, I yelled for my friend in panic. Her bag was turned inside out, the floor searched; every crack and crevice in the house which the card could’ve scurried into was inspected. All to no avail.
The realisation hit me like a slap in the face. It was Lost. My card, my lifeline, my money was unreachable. My heart was pounding double-time as I tried to retrace my steps, working myself into a state of anger, frustration and confusion as I paced back and forth.
“What are you worried about?” my friend asked coolly, not even glancing up from her glossy magazine. Apoplectic rage started dangerously bubbling, about to erupt with colourful curses when my brain registered the question, stumping my wrath as it processed the words. Well, what was I worried about? If it didn’t show up, then I would just have to cancel the card. I would lose access to my money for a few days. The thought makes me tense even now, but why?
Why was that piece of plastic so vital at that instant? I had my roof over my head, food in the fridge, a warm bed and clean running water. Whether or not I had money in my pocket or numbers on an ATM screen, I could sleep knowing that I will survive tomorrow. I will not starve. I will not catch pneumonia. Typhoid is not going to visit me anytime soon. The worst that will happen is missing the offer on those Jaffa cakes. Life will go on.
Why are we that concerned with the digital money we never touch, the pieces of paper and metal we do, and the pocket-sized plastic? Yes, they are necessary in our culture for the basics of survival, but after that, the excess is not a matter of life or death. As I contemplated this my shoulders felt less tense, my breathing shallower. Being rich doesn’t enhance our survival rate much beyond those of average wealth. Money doesn’t make the sea smell saltier, a baby’s laugh sound sweeter or a kiss feel more passionate. We will not die if we have no money for a day or two. We worry if there is nothing to worry about, so programmed are we to concern ourselves with trivial matters. What are we really worried about?
Image is my own, October 2012