“Under the carpet, below the sofa, behind the bathroom door, inside the refrigerator – opening the egg case to be specific, all the drawers, over the book shelf, the kitchen counter, the cookie jar, the laundry basket and the oven! I have checked everywhere and I still cannot find the keys” screamed Ann.
I was ignoring the grand event of Ann losing her car keys. It happened too often, almost every day. She made too much noise about it. And at the end, she always found it in a safer place than she even imagined she had kept it.
The ruffling noise of pages caught my ear and I was forced to turn around. I saw the GOOD HOUSEKEEPING magazine doing a tribal dance in Ann’s hands. She was shaking it so hard, I thought it would tear. “I am getting late for work” Ann mumbled. I stood still and calm as a puddle of water after a rainy night. “If only losing weight was as easy as losing your keys’ I mumbled to myself, remembering the quote that popped up a zillion times on my laptop screen; thanks to my search for weight loss programs and diet tips. I should be searching for programs to train your brain not to lose the key. No, wait! Train your friend’s brain.
Tear alert! Ann was going to cry now. She was panting, heaving deep sighs and jumping around restlessly like a baby kangaroo was jostling her from within. I had to stop Ann from crying. The keys would be found anyway. So I geared up to quiz her on the questions, the answers of which I already knew.
“Where did you see it last?” I asked.
“In my bag” she answered.
I looked at her hands that were violently shaking the empty green and yellow striped cloth bag which was turned upside down in the quest for the keys. It was almost like the bag was being punished for housing the keys inside.
“Are you sure?” I asked
“yes, yes, yes” she nodded furiously, biting her lip.
“Any other place you can think of?”
“No. I never change its place. It is always in the front pocket of this bag.” She was staring at the bag accusingly, like a frail man who had stolen her lunch.
“Think again” I said “Thought” she replied quickly. Her agitation and anxiety were rising like the ebb of a tide.
“Let’s search in your study” she suggested.
“I don’t even know how to drive” I almost shouted shrugging my shoulders and fanning my palms towards her. Ann was already storming towards my study. My books, my stationery, my favourite writing pad were all thrown into the tsunami of her fears. She was sure that my study was secretly hiding her car keys! 20 minutes of squeaking noises of opening and shutting drawers, wrinkling of pages, clattering of pens…I was mentally shutting my ears to all the sounds that were deafening me from within. I knew the keys were not here, yet I let her search. Anything, to stop her from crying. I cannot control her floodgates once they open.
“Not here” she declared. I stopped myself from saying I told you so. Before I could react, she was in the garden, lifting the bottoms of the brown mud pots and threatening the stems of the red rose plant with her rigorous drill of tugging, and shoving them in different directions. It seemed like her hands had grown into the arms of an octopus. She was moving everything, everywhere all at once.
The kitchen was next victim of her anguish. The pots, pans, glasses, ladles, spoons and spices were all unsettled from their comfort zone and dispersed into all corners of the sink. They all struggled in there like they were stuck in a honeycomb. Of course, I was following her around the house, trying to calm her down and help her think. But she was as fast as a tornado sweeping and hurling all that she saw. 45 minutes of non -stop action, racing hearts, sweaty palms and unlimited tautness, still no trace of the key. Debilitated with the fruitless search, she sank into the worn out brown sofa. Her face stuck in her palms but eyes refusing to cry. I stood a silent spectator like always. Not sure if how this was going to end today.
15 minutes later her palms opened like doors of heaven because she was beaming a smile brighter than a thousand suns shining together. She stood up with a finality that I was familiar with. She reached to the back pocket of her brand new black jeans and pulled out a silver shining key. Yes, her car keys. “I wanted to string it into my new keychain, the one you gifted me yesterday so that I do not lose my car keys again” she said with sincerity flooding her voice. I nodded. I even tried to smile. I am not sure what I did.
“But now…” her voice trailed away growing thinner, “I don’t remember where I kept the keychain!”