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She had a jar.
This glass jar, with a red lid. A red lid with holes in it, to let the good air in.
The air was for the butterflies.
She had painted the jar, with beautiful nuances of greens and blues and reds. There was this distinct streak of gold, right around the centre, that sparkled when the sun happened to catch it.
It was what was inside that was really something.
There was a red one, an orange one with black spots, a tiny canary yellow one and a copper sulfate blue one.
They were her friends, the butterflies.
She had collected them as caterpillars. All of them at different times, yet she kept all of them in the same jar. There was room for all of them.
She fed them, slipping them little daisies.
She talked to them, referring to them by their names.
She would, sometimes, place the jar on her window sill and would watch them, through the clear strips of glass. They would flutter with a certain grace, a certain musicality only they seemed to possess.
She enjoyed them.
She kept them safe in her glass jar.
Then, ‘something’ happened.
‘Something’ had gone wrong.
She couldn’t quite place her finger on it, but ‘something’ was amiss.
She noticed a certain tiredness in the butterflies. A distinct weariness. A slight dip in their fluttering and flitting. It seemed as if they’d finally realized they’d been jarred in.
Trapped in a glass jar, always looking out.
She noticed that sometimes, the butterflies would fly into the glass…as if trying to force their way out. They seemed to be fighting for space, for a freedom they didn’t possess in her glass jar.
At times, they would try to squeeze through the holes in the lid, only to flutter to the bottom in vain.
They felt suffocated.
They had outgrown the jar.
They weren’t happy.
She tried to ignore their evident unhappiness, kidding herself that it was just a ‘phase’. That insects had them, just like humans did. That she was doing everything right.
But, it pained her to see them like that.
So, she tried harder.
More profound conversations.
But, it just wouldn’t do it.
They wouldn’t be kept in the jar.
They didn’t want a life in her jar.
So, she did what she knew she’d always have to do.
She opened the lid one morning.
And she let them go.
She watched them soar above her, the colours leaving her in a daze.
They were even more prominent in their new found freedom.
At that moment, it seemed to her, that she’d made the single, most terrible mistake.
It was silly, but she tried nonetheless.
She would call out to them, by the names she’d given them.
She left the glass jar open, without the red lid with the holes.
She hoped they’d come back. The red one, the orange one with the black spots, the tiny canary yellow one and the copper sulfate blue one.
But, they never came.
She never saw them.
They never came back to her glass jar.
She didn’t have a choice, really.
She left the jar on the window-sill, with the red lid off.
The rains came, and washed off all the pretty colours. The colours washed off painfully slow, as if trying to hold on desperately to the glass jar until one day, there was no more colour. No more gold streak that sparkled in the sun.
It was now, just a jar.
An empty jar, without a lid.
As if beckoning anyone or anything to fill it.
But, the butterflies never came. Nothing ever came.
Now, it was just her jar, on the window-sill.
Her empty glass jar, without the red lid with holes in it.
Opened an empty.