A Lifetime in my Drawers

Posted on July 26, 2009


Every time I have moved back home in the last few years, I have returned beaten. More cynical – wiser, of course – but cynical nevertheless.

I opened my drawers for the first time in three years to clean. In the past 3 years, I have often opened them only to stash stuff in them. But today, I was compelled to open them and clean. I knew it would be like opening Pandora’s box – Pandora being me, naturally. But it needed to be done. I couldn’t find anything I needed. And yes, it was time to make place for new people, new memorabilia, new pain.

Trying to list down all the things I found and the associations I have with them.

1. 2 broken cell phones – rage, poor quality, remember throwing one against the wall, the other taking 45 minutes to boot (not thrown against the wall, phir bhi).

2. A broken Fastrack watch – My pappa gifted it to me when I got 5 As at TISS in the 3rd semester. The glass broke twice. Once V repaired it for me, the second time I couldn’t bear to repair it. It’s been in the drawer for 3 years now. I have kept this watch. It reminds me of me of my serious academic promise of bagging a PhD.

3. A belt with mirrors on it – gifted to me by my once-best friend’s mom – Never having worn the belt even once, I kept it in honour of all that they meant to me. Not spoken to either of them in years. No reason, time makes us all drift, sometimes away from each other. I guess I can say good bye to the past. I let it go.

4. A birthday card – From Roberto. The only card he’s ever given me. It’s a boring Hallmark card, we were just getting to know each other – it has this innocence, of friendship, of an era gone. I wiped the dust off it, and kept it aside, I was going to keep it. Roberto is not the past. He is the present. May be the future even.

5. A bangle box – bangles of all shapes and colours…that’s for one of the girly twins in my Gemini personality…It cheers me up to look these bangles, I cleaned the box, added a few more loose bangles that hung around the dressing table to it. It goes back into the drawers, this time with a more respectable position inside. Funny, how this three-dimensional piece of functional cardboard holds captive the most feminine parts of me.

6. Picture with an ex-flame: I had forgotten about this. Hyderabad 2006. It should have brought some emotion, but it did not. I should have smiled. Did not. I should have felt a pang. I did not. I should have torn it. I did not. It went back into the envelope and into the drawer with other “official” stuff that I will not need, but must keep.

7. Junk jewellery: Ah! This I love. I have a penchant for collecting large, audacious neck pieces to wear. But I have so much of it that sometimes I tend to forget I have some of them. Found single earrings, broken necklaces, faded threaded pieces. I got rid of them all, I hadn’t worn them in years, and I wouldn’t wear them ever again. But I gave them a worthy farewell. I held them against my ears, my neck, my nose – smiled, sighed theatrically, before dumping them into the waiting polythene. The newer ones, the precious silver ones, I kept them back safely into silken covers, and slid them back inside the drawer.

8. Cheque books and a floppy drive: These reminded me that the world is constantly making itself redundant! I haven’t written a cheque in ages. The last one I wrote was in June 2008, and that was after 2 years in the first place! With online banking and debit cards and credit cards, I haven’t felt the need to write a cheque! And a floppy drive! WOW…I mean WOW…an IBM floppy drive bought way back in 2004, it’s almost new! It had cost me Rs. 1600 then, and I had gotten it because at TISS, we still used the damned unreliable things – floppies! Haven’t touched it since! And now, I know I won’t get even Rs. 16/- for it. But it made me laugh. It now lies near the kitchen, with all the stuff that dad is in charge of disposing. He paid for it. And now, he gets rid of it. A full circle, I say.

9. Post cards and travel brochures from Egypt: In 2006, I met Mary, Yasser, Shaima and Noheirr – 4 wonderful people from Egypt – they gave me a dream…to visit their beautiful country. But since 2006, all these wonderful plans have been closeted into a drawer. I ran my hands over them. They’re now going to my office and ending up in the ASSET papers.

10. Memorabilia from Dream A Dream: A folder for being a good “volunteer” – A diary that Vishal had given when I was still “staff” and bookmarks. I threw the bookmarks. I don’t know why. Just couldn’t keep them anymore. I wiped the folder, put in all my medical reports and shoved it back into to the drawer. The diary, I did not even open it, it went to the laden plastic bag.

11. A black-n-white sketch with an old friend: A wonderful memory of me and this young man who called me “Babs” – we went into the “studio” outside The Bombay Store on M.G. Road and got ourselves clicked and then “special-effected”. I hadn’t seen this picture in a long time. Heck, I haven’t seen this “good friend” in years. We lived in the same city, but for the last many years neither of us really tried to keep in touch..I put the sketch in the Dream A Dream folder.

12. Pictures from TISS: Tanu, Meenu, Panchali, my entire MPSW class – some fantastic memories of all of us at our farewell, the hostel corridors, the study tour to Goa, the beach-lounging, the shack dinners, the chocolate liqueurs at quaint joints…I hadn’t felt so young and energetic in a long time. I have kept the pictures at the top of the drawer, gonna get them scanned and then share them with each and every person in those pictures.

What I Did With Other things
I threw away: Make-up, cards from friends, wrapping paper that had covered stupid little gifts, tacky plastic bracelets that people gave me because I like junk jewellery (but forgot that it had to be jewellery, simply junk won’t do!!!), medicines, old prescriptions, empty spectacle cases, calendars, broken hair clips, empty perfume bottles, half empty body sprays, hairdryer accessories, airplane goodies, small Chinese locks and keys.

I kept: empty photo frames, small silk batwaas, an old blue beads and rudraksh necklace and earrings that Nam bought me from Colaba Causeway, an eye-blinder for journeys which says “Stop talking, I’m not listening.”, a CD with Morrison’s An American Prayer, my colourful fountain pens and an old Parker which is beyond repair.

I needed to clean today. My cluttered room was a result of my cluttered mind. My next mission is to give away every single book I own. I want to be free. Of myself and of my possessions. I want to be able to take off whenever I please and the less burden I have, the easier it is likely to be.

My room, bereft of all the junk I had collected over the years in fear of losing a memory, suddenly seems my own again. It is liveable, and I like it. As much, if not more. My soul is purged. Amen.