Memoir Monday: The Pack of Cards

by Srinath Somasundaram, Reporter

Srinath Somasundaram
The precisely cut pack of standard bicycle cards rests on the wooden table awaiting its grand opening. Its manufactured, cheap plastic cover balances its clean and untouched edges. Unfortunately, vibrant marketing colors of red, blue and gold draw away from the true, crisp inner nature of a smooth new pack of cards. However, the pack would be nothing but a mere plastic cuboid if it weren’t for its contents: the cards themselves. After marveling at the thought that something completely made by machines could feel so natural, I proceed to open the pack. As I am aware of the frustrating containment sticker that covers the crevice in the pack, I silently grab my trusty swiss-army knife that has helped me open countless of similar packs.. As I slice through the sticker, excitement envelops my body and all my thoughts. Rapidly, I grasp each and every card careful not to miss one in a smooth motion and begin drowning them in a flurry of spreads, springs and flourishes. I finally feel euphoria as the loud noise of silky-smooth cards falling from one hand to the other pollutes my originally silent surroundings. As I continue to play with the rectangular pieces of plastic, I remember my summer in India which would transform my view of these same bicycle playing cards.

Historically, my family has always emphasized playing traditional Indian card games. No matter what the situation was, whether it was a grand occasion with many guests or a regular day with our family, we always played card games. However, one summer, in particular, I was without internet and painfully bored of the same card games that my grandmother and I played endlessly. So, I decided to change this and began to teach myself card tricks knowing the abundance of cards we owned.

I began with simple ones which I could see fooled no one, though my relatives attempted to take pity on me and act amazed, but as the remaining month of my trip progressed so did my skills, primarily through self-learning. I surprised myself with my own creativity as I sometimes woke up with a new idea for a trick. I had found a seemingly endless activity to do. And all this while, I didn’t even think for one second about the internet that I was previously attached to. On the final day of my visit, I put together a full show for all my relatives, and unlike the first time, I was successful in fooling them many times.

Those cards felt like a friend to me, one that I could never risk losing and one that I could count on to always interest me. So now, each time I open a pack of cards, before it takes me to a completely different world, I recall that summer where I found myself my most trusty companion.