Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Spring Cleaning

I managed to inherit the worst family traits from my parents - instead of my mother’s metabolism (at least pre pregnancy), height, skin and patience. As for my Dad, I get his family’s hips, height and complexion and his outspokenness (the last one I don’t have much crib about, though my grandmother does).

Now that my parents have decided to move house, I have to confront what my Dad alleges is my worst mommy–like behaviour - my tendency to hoard.


I took a lot of offence to being compared to my mother on this front. Until I started rummaging through 15 years of accumulated items of varying value.


I was turning into my mother. Seriously this time.


So, welcome to my mess, which could be largely grouped as follows:

1. Usable: Items of stationery etc. which had definite use. Unfortunately “definite use” was limited only to the time at which I had decided they had some use which was about 10 years ago. So I found around 6 different compass sets, lots of (dried up) markers, pens and pencils, cotton balls, rulers which could also be used to trace out stars and moons, erasers (the ones in the shape of fruits, cars and animals which were absolutely useless as erasers but cute as hell), playing cards (useful in the imaginary world where I found the other 51), monopoly…

2. Useless: Let’s not even get into this, but to illustrate, I found 3 decapitated Barbie Dolls.

3. Sentimental value: Ah.


As a young adult, I would meticulously store all letters, cards, chits of significance – basically any written correspondence from ANYONE for reasons that I cannot recollect right now, but which largely have to do with one day looking back fondly at them and sharing them with the original authors. Nearly 10 years down the line, I was presented with the opportunity to go through them and bask in nostalgia. Right?


Not quite. If anything else, my reality was quite distorted.


Sifting through birthday cards, I found a very setting-sun-random-boats-and-palm-trees-having-no-relevance-to-the-theme-of-the-card-but-hey-what-did-you-expect-it’s-hallmark card with “To a Dear Friend” in bold Monotype Corsiva. Besides the usual corny 6 line message, the sender had included a handwritten message:

“Thanks a lot for being there. I never really liked you and the way you handle things but now I know that it was because of what people say about you and really I hope we can be friends. I know you must be surprised with this card because I think (I could be wrong, I hope so) you don’t like me, but still I hope we can be friends. I didn’t want to give anyone a card this year but I found this while shopping for raakhis and thought it was apt for you.”

My first reaction was denial. I couldn’t believe that there was a time where we all thought that life’s emotions can effectively be conveyed by a Greeting Card. This was also the same time that we were setting dance routines to “Backstreet’s Back” and “Five Six Seven Eight” so I suppose we could have been forgiven anything. My second reaction was shock, because lo and behold, the person who wrote this letter (was not a guy who came out of the closet, I know that’s what you were expecting, but ha ha ha) is a girl who I had gone out to dinner with the previous night, one of the few classmates from school who I was actively in touch with, and with whom I had no recollection of ill will whatsoever. I flipped the card around. It was a 25 buck card. 25 bucks for a greeting card was a lot on those times, and this wasn’t even a birthday card. What on earth had gone on between us? I tried to imagine the worst thing 8th standard kids could do to each other. Did I not give her homework to copy? Impossible – I never did my homework until I got to class. Did we have a crush on the same guy? What? What?


I moved onto the next set of cards, best of luck cards for my 10th board exams. I counted 15. Amazing, considering what an insignificant exam it is. A bookmark fell out.

“I’m going to miss you now that you’re leaving.

Have a great time and all the best to achieve whatever you want in life

Above all, NEVER FORGET ME!!!

With love, Fiona”


Cute. Obviously a memento from our farewell party. The only question was, who on earth was Fiona?


More sifting – cards from various admirers, relatives, and friends. A letter from a boy from Chandigarh which accompanied a birthday card, pleading with me to reply to his previous letter and despairing how my silence was making his life a living hell. Definitely not his finest hour. He had managed to contact me on Orkut and is a much more refined individual working for an MNC.


I then stumbled upon (literally, by now there was no place to stand) a pile of carefully preserved chits, letters and cards from a “bestest friend in the whole wide world”, who was the world to me and whose opinion was the only thing that ever mattered and she was such a dear friend that after school, in the five years that we studied in the same city, we met only once, when she wanted to buy food coupons from the cash counter at our annual rock festival.


Trust me, it gets better.


In a Manila envelope, I find mound of cards from one of my oldest friends. Like most close friends between different sexes, we had our period of “uncertainty” long long time ago where I developed a crush on him and where he started seeing an old “friend” and then we got back to being “just friends”. We never really discussed this, and my telling of the story was that I was naïve and really impressed by the guy in a school girlish way and I was on my own trip and got carried way with my own fantasies, while he was all the while in love with his girl back home. I found a lot of the cards (yes, again) and other paraphernalia that he sent me in 1999, just after we had met, all of which were signed off “with love” and “with lots of kisses”. That was alright, I suppose.


I then found a “miss you more and more every day” card from him, typically Archies, full of pining and “waiting to see you again”. Again, a handwritten message (if you have to include a handwritten note anyway why bother with the card?)

“I woke up this morning and realized that I was dreaming of you, and I’ve been missing you ever since. I don’t think I can stay without meeting you for long. So now I’m waiting…”

And others.


My Criminal Lawyer tendencies drew me to check the date of the card and compare it to the time period surrounding our “uncertainty” and when he started seeing the other woman (and of course I managed to remember that he didn’t tell me he was seeing her until 6 months after he actually did) Luckily I managed to check myself just before I drowned in overanalysis.


I shook the dust off me and went for a run along the beach. When I came back, my clearing up speed increased exponentially. Everything was neatly torn up and hopefully will be found on its way to the incinerator in a day’s time.


There’s a reason why the past is the past and that’s exactly where it should stay.


But it was reason good enough to get me to blog again!     




Anonymous said...

Missed you !!!

Cheers and regards.

M said...

welcome back!

Anonymous said...

about time
- L

still ink stained said...

Finally! :)

mem said...

woopie woo hoo

Shoe Girl said...

Ohh! This reminded me so much the time i shifted house...recently.

My friends call me a 'collector'...coz i cant 'let go' of things... from city to city...hostel to hostel... i carried the same stuff over years... cards and dry flowers in empty shoe boxes...

But it was just the last time I decided to discard a lot of it... i guess the old letters and printouts of typed email and chats of my ex added fuel to fire...

i still have a lot of thing i didnt throw but was happy to let go of a few. isnt that what you call spring cleaning...

New to your blog! loved the post

Journey to Home.... said...

First time here..... good post.
I am reminded of my parting with my old stuffs though not for shifting purpose. But due to fear that my mom wil through me out if i dont through away my old stuffs.