She absently fiddled with her left index finger, lost in thought. And, suddenly, she jerked awake, as if from a trance. Something was missing, something very dear to her, that she seemed to have left behind, in her rush to get on.
What was she missing? What had she got on with? She racked her brains, searching for some comforting and familiar memory that would free her of this momentary confusion.
And, suddenly she remembered. How could she have forgotten, she chided herself. Those once familiar blisters no longer adorned her index and middle fingers. Her fingers were as smooth as silk now, bearing no evidence of that glorious past.
Her teacher had told her once, showing her own fingers. "Do you see the blisters on these fingers, little one? They show our dedication to what we do. The day the skin on your fingers are smooth and not roughened by these blisters will be the day you would have forgotten everything you have learnt." She wanted to have blisters on her fingers like her teacher, or perhaps even rougher and harsher. For, such are the desires of a young and vain heart. Every night before sleeping, she would clench those just born blisters on her left hand tightly with the fingers of her right hand, hoping that they would somehow grow deeper overnight. And, every morning, the skin would have somehow become smoother than the day before, not causing her disappointment, but an unquenchable thirst to win. The uglier the blisters, the higher her sense of achievement.
Ah! Those were the days. Those were the days she could practice for hours together, despite her tired little hands begging her for mercy. Those were the days when her mom would have to stop her forcibly for fear of seeing her fingers bleed otherwise.
What had happened suddenly? When had she started losing the race to her hands? When had she started ignoring those blisters? When had she abandoned her beloved to a corner, only to be dusted and cleaned by mom, while she herself started to "get on" with life?
Today, as she took the Veena and started practicing again, the unquenchable thirst seemed to be coming back, slowly at first and then like a waterfall, tumbling down a precipice. Perhaps, the blisters would come back again, harsh and rough, bringing with them a deep sense of peace and contentment.
P. S. Thanks V, for the title.