Was it always so? Did I always need a little space of my own, my solitary abode I could retreat to every now and then? Or is this need for solitude a new awakening within me, one sprung from the same desire that makes me stitch words together?

I remember a cardboard box from my girlhood days. It perhaps came with a refrigerator, or maybe a computer when they were built massive. Or was it not a T.V. carton?

I can’t tell exactly how it came into my possession. But I was more excited about the box itself than the valuable item it was made for. I asked my parents if I could keep it. (My mother still calls me a collector of all things useless.)

For a whole summer, I called the cardboard box home. In the afternoons, I would carry it outdoors and lock myself away for hours. I remember asking papa to carve a door in its frame (I wasn’t allowed to use paper-cutters then). I also made a latch of sorts with bits of cardboard so as to keep intruders at bay.

There was nothing specific I did when inside it. I did not write or draw or read. I did not play with my dolls or adorn it with my tea-things. But I felt more myself within that box than elsewhere. It was as though I could understand myself better only when the world around me disappeared.

Sometimes, my sister would come by and ask if I would share my box with her. I turned her down every time—I wanted the box all to myself. Though I may have let her experience what it was to be inside it once or twice. 

In my opinion, everyone should at least once in their lifetime know what it is to be inside a cardboard box. It’s a world in itself. A world of dreams and young hopes and healing. Of course I do not boast of knowing these things when I was little, but perhaps a deeper conscious in me was aware of such facts?

Inside the box, I bothered nobody and nobody bothered me. I remember feeling hidden from the world even as the world was hidden from me. It’s a feeling I search for now, when the urge to hide myself from the world is too strong to deny.

Later that summer, the corners of my beloved cardboard box fell apart and it could stand on its own no more. I couldn’t find another one and soon outgrew the box-phase.

Then perhaps it was always there, this need for the deep solitude of being, this cardboard box that would hide me from the world. It becomes even more urgent when I find myself amid people, in crowded rooms.

I no longer possess one such box. But I no longer need it in its physical, concrete form. I now carry a cardboard box within me. I retreat to it whenever I hope to, like now.

Bye.

10 thoughts on “About a Cardboard Box

  1. Your story resonated with me, {{{Kanika}}}. When you wrote, ” I remember feeling hidden from the world even as the world was hidden from me. It’s a feeling I search for now, when the urge to hide myself from the world is too strong to deny,” I was reminded of my “Box-phase.” Mine was not a box, but a hole in the field about 200 years form our house. My friend and I dug the hole deep and wide enough that we both could crawl inside and escape the world. It was a place of quiet, of feeling alone while together, of peace. One day a cow stepped in our hole and broke her leg and had to be “put down.” My dad filled in the hole. But that “box-phase” lives in me today. I go up to my sanctuary – alone but not alone – every morning for the first hour. God is my quiet companion who hears the whispers of my heart and whose voice resonates off the walls, the angels, and the collection of crosses. “…perhaps it was always there, this need for the deep solitude of being…” ❤ Thanks for the beauty of your memories. ❤

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  2. A lovely story. Thank you. I think most of us have used a box at one point. I remember my mother sewing a house with a door and windows that could be thrown over a bridge table. The door and windows were of fabric and could be closed and opened at will. Must have been 5 or 6 .
    Keep carrying your box.

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