I've now been alive for twenty one years, four days, twelve hours and thirty five minutes. But I choose not to measure time in standard units. Time should be measured in moments. Moments, silly, sweet, bitter, happy... that burn themselves into your memory and make you who you are.
I remember the moment when a priest shaved my head in Tirupati. I fought so hard, he cut my scalp. Appa held me down while the priest finished. I didn't speak to Appa for a week after that. I still have photographs of myself at the time, in a frilly green frock, staring dejectedly at the camera, with a dome shaped scalp that reflected light.
Then there was my 1st Standard play- I was the sun and all my classmates were flowers basking in my light. I had gleaming yellow robes and a giant, pointy crown. It's a wonder I didn't burst with pride on that stage.
My first and last TV recording, in a sleepy studio in Delhi. I wore a green satin dance costume and my hands and feet were dyed red. The skit was based on a fable about the lives of jungle animals and the pond was a circle of blue painted on the floor. My head hurt with the tremendous weight of fake hair, jewelry and plastic flowers. I wished it would end soon.
Then there was the moment when V, my best friend in Sacred Heart High School, whom I had called to say goodbye to, told me on the phone that no one in my class regretted that I was leaving. They all thought me awfully stuck up.
The moment when Race, our German Shepherd, who was bathing in a river, got carried away by the moving water. He wasn't yet fully grown, and not strong enough to fight the current. He disappeared behind a giant rock and I ran after him desperately, only to find him perched on another jutting rock, shaking the water off his coat.
The moment when Appa brought Race's body back from the Veterinary Hospital. I didn't believe he was dead till I touched him. He was cold.
The moment when I held hands with my first ever crush, on a train back from Agra. After hours, our plams grew sweaty and slowly slipped apart. I remember thinking that it was unfair that they never mentioned things like sweat or dirt or acne in romance novels.
The moment when I waved my parents away, and stood at the door of my hostel, alone for the first time in my life.
The moment when I stood before an audience of 600 people I didn't know and sang. My hands were trembling and my heart hammering, but still, somehow, my voice was clear.
The moment when I ran in from the rain and didn't care that clothes were soaked or my shoes squelchy, because for the first time ever, I was in love. I forgave the romance novels then- they knew what they were talking about.
The moment when I first realised that I was never bored as long as I held a pen and paper in my hands.
And then today, when I proudly looked over a pile of shoes, clothes and accessories, and discovered that, despite what I've said in the past, shopping is a great deal of fun.
Life is full of so many such moments, all in turn silly, sweet, bitter, happy, embarrassing... These are but a paltry few of all those thousands of memories I have acquired in my twenty one years. It's nice to pause sometimes, to simply think about the past. Not to learn lessons from it or to air regrets, but simply, to remember.