Another Carton in the Lot

carton 1

Grab it- Roll it- Tuck it- Shut it
The drill hummed in my mind like a dishwasher advertisement.
The khaki guy slammed the metal door with a thud. I grab my edges to prevent them from bobbing up from the carton as the truck driver chooses the deepest of depressions to dive into.
The metal cans inside me clink and shake in a jiffy. All I could do was pray that they don’t dampen my bottoms again with their leaking. My other mates, they lay still.
They’ve accepted this.
All of this- this loading, this being shaken up and down, in and around; going from hand to hand, stamp to stamp.
Is it only me, I wonder sometimes; who feels the heat of the glue as it approaches me, the incessant burning as it latches onto my skin.
I remember those layers, I had at the beginning, those thickets of paper all around and those curvy sheets of cardboard in between. Well, those sheets are now straightened and the thickets, now soggy.
‘Tamin’ up,’ They say.
I nod but these edges, they share my dismay.

carton 3

I closed my eyes like every time, trying to pretend I couldn’t know when the journey ended but like every time, the dragging screech of the opening gates spoke of our arrival. We had reached. A new guy rolled us out each day. My head popped up to get a glance by the only curiosity which drove me.
A blue khaki, a blue shirt; my eyes configured. I bent my head forward to roll into his dirty rough hands. And oh these hands, they took me, caressed me and those eyes, they smiled at me and for that one fraction of a moment I rose, of hope.
But these fantasies rolled out into the doom, just like his hands did into the trolley. Darkness blotched up as I was shoved below my mates.
“Of course, it’s the first lot of the season,” I thought, cursing myself for uprising that illusion of a light in me. But, all my scorns died an early death as our trolley stopped at the conveyor belt, that black glistening satin belt. Fear grappled my senses. I felt myself seeping into the steel bars of the trolley, my plastic tape heating up on my covers.
I let out a deep breath and said to myself, “We’ll get throu-,”

*Dhum. Dhum. Dhum*

carton 3
The deed was done. The drugging scent of the glue lurked in the air. One, by one, they had branded me, certification of the product of their creation- their thoughts, their likes. I screamed the screams deaf to those ears and those hands maneuvering me. Their ink marked not just the surface of my lid but, my very core. My skin now trapped under the black labeling lines on my forehead, the bar code now defined me.
The light on the other end of the belt blinded me.
“Another pack, ready to go!” Came the voice of another blue khaki, blue shirt.

And it hasn’t left me yet, booming up from time to time. Like today when I was leaning on the porch seeing my neighbor’s toddler stepping into the school bus for his first day. I gritted my teeth to hold it back. Another lot has arrived.

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3].

About Vishakha Khanolkar

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