A White Table

There used to be a white table, at least it was white at one time. Probably years ago. Now, it has candle stains, patches of wood showing, an edge that doesn’t quite go around the entire periphery but it is reasonably stable. It’s suitably maimed, scarred and would be the perfect subject for a DIY project, just that it wasn’t bought for a leisurely Sunday afternoon activity but for utility. This one is versatile, it sees study, work and food in varying proportions. A serendipitous find, the perfect size for two people and the room.

It was appealing, getting a table for a song, refurbishing it to make it worthy of Pinterest. But, that thought was covered with a poinsettia table cover which overstayed its Christmas welcome. The cloth is a cheery one and goes for a wash every now and then considering its constant wear. It adds a smile to a stark room. There were paintings that were intended to be hung but never got around to being displayed. The place feels like an inn and she’s wary of making it a home.

She made a home once upon a time ago and abandoned it, what is the point of letting roots grow? Perhaps the troubadours got it right, wanderers of the soul with nary a painting, just their music and an endless road. She imagines becoming a roaming wordsmith and writing stories and songs for a nickel and a smile. Wishful thinking, one doodled thanks to colourful note pads lying around.

Homes are fickle, they change shape with the lives of its residents. Nothing endures. Now it makes sense why Siddhartha despaired and escaped into being Gautama. It is appealing, a life of silence and just one’s own body and mind to wrestle with. Maybe people make families to dispel loneliness but eventually it is a solitary journey. Can sleep be shared or the dreams in that sleeping?

The table though feels none of the paradox, it just stands on four legs, silent and listening to the sound of the keyboard or the conversations floating over its head. There is a motley crew of stationery, art, books, bags and coffee standing around as though at a cocktail party. She finds herself imagining them as people, how would they look? The steel mug morphs into an elegant lady in stilettos and a cigarette holder. The smokes have gone but their memory is still strong in the mind and she toys with a thought of lighting up again.

The wooden paper weight turns into a jolly man, plump and decked in rings of shimmering stones and a loud laughter. Perhaps he has a turban studded with precious jewels like the elephant painted out of the dust of precious stones. The spectacle case turns into Anton from Ratatouille, cold and unimpressed until he is lost in the gustatory memory of his mother’s kitchen brought to life by a little rat chef. The characters on the white table are from books she has read, movies watched or wisps of a mind with time on her hands and a willing keyboard. They people the table and the tableau changes through the day. Sometimes they get arranged like little soldiers in their proper places while at others they are at a party, milling around.

The books are the most talkative of the lot. They end up in discussion as one page opens up another in a second book and so on until there is a veritable tower of the written word. Study texts jostle for space with short stories and poetry. Imagine if each word weighed a pound, how much time would it take for this table to collapse? Imagine the weight of memories and worries in the mind. And there’s no tidying them up really. Where do lost memories disappear? Where do you discard useless ones?

The table asks no such questions, it just stands under bright red flowers, stoic in the face of clutter or order. It has grown to be her friend, one that is welcoming and forgiving and privy to thoughts and words that may never see the light of day.