Before my sister and I went about cleaning out our house, I visualized myself writing a sentimental blog entry, an entry of remorse, of faded memories that came to life, of regret of a life that turned out different from what I’d imagined. We were after all going to rid the house of all the furniture, the vessels, the books, the photographs, the electronics, the clocks, the clothes, the curtains, the puja room pictures and the idols. We would spend two days getting rid of twenty years worth of possessions. At the end we would give it out for rent so that strangers could occupy the rooms we grew up in. We would trade our personal museum for convenience and cold hard cash.
The horrible truth is we did it with clinical efficiency. I spent most of my time standing on a stool, clad in a baniyan and a pair of shorts as I systematically pulled out box after box from the loft and passed them down to my sister after which we decided the their fate: Stuff to keep, Stuff for charity and Stuff to trash. We hardly spent time agonizing over individual items. I would take some vessels, some books, a small cupboard, a study table and a Godrej Bero. My sister would take a couple of cupboards and some books. My uncle would take the computer table and the fridge. Everything else would be given to charity. We surprised ourselves with our practicality.
While a sense of sadness did prevail, we all had terrible limitations. We lived far away in Bangalore. I shared a fully furnished flat with two other guys and I hardly had any space to spare. My sister and uncle had full houses as well. Where was the room to keep all the stuff?
“You should keep it all” my grandmother said. “It will be useful for you when you get married”. She was right but marriage seemed too distant a possibility to consider seriously now. I was in no mood to have so many possessions. It didn’t seem right for someone my age.
“I don’t want to be weighed down by a dining table.” I complained to my uncle,. “And all those vessels! I don’t even cook!” My uncle however didn’t appreciate the flippancy.
“Dinesh, you’ll have to remember that those items were bought by your parents when their income was very meager.” He said gently. “They didn’t just pick those items up because they fancied them. They worked hard, saved money gradually and bought them because they really needed them. It took them over two decades to acquire these items.” You can’t dismiss them just like that.”
I felt guilty, but I still didn’t want the dining table.