Strings of memories

Strings of memories

Diwali was around the corner.  As a ritual of the festival, cleaning has the utmost priority. Even though the home is generally clean, Deepawali had innately and probably undue demand for excessive cleaning. Rama had to go to university and plan the upcoming classes as well. There were a lot of unfinished works on the list.  The university’s holiday was only for three days, and she was unable to come to the term about how to arrange the house. Rama was not a very organized lady, anyway and at the same time, she was not much interested in arranging the clothes and other accessories neatly. Now, she started to feel tired even in the university work. This time, her son, daughter-in-law, and two younger granddaughters were also coming to celebrate Diwali. Rama was very excited. She was counting down the days of their arrival. Whenever they came, she did not even know when the time had passed while playing, chattering, and chuckling with them.

This time, they were going to stay for two weeks. She had to vacate a room. She also recalled buying groceries of their choice. The thought about the work was making her tired more than the work itself. Her husband was always busy with himself. He was usually annoyed with Rama’s clothes and sandals which were lying all over the place. Probably all men may be having similar thoughts! It is fine for men to be in that way. Jeans, Pant-shirt, coat, and a watch, but Rama’s shelves were full of Punjabi suits, sarees, apart from gowns, jeans, pant-shirts, and other paraphernalia. Yet, whenever she planned to go outside, she was always hounded with the thoughts—there is nothing to wear.

Rama had tonnes of sarees, woolen clothes, shawls, and coats. The wind started becoming colder as well. She had to take out the winter clothes from the bed box. Despite having helping hands at home, she preferred to organize her books, paper, pens, rubber, highlighter in the study room herself. For the first time, Rama looked at her belongings so closely. Her husband often said while staring at piles of items, “it is time to reduce” He would go on jokingly, your time to meet God may come anytime. Rama smiles but nothing changed. The children will be stunned to see everything.  In the kitchen, more than half of the crockery is taken out during the festival and then washed and kept again. “Use it or give it to someone.” Husband’s advice seems right to her for the first time. She decided that tomorrow she would spend the whole day packing up the things of the house. It was evening, after having dinner, Rama went to bed and lay down while staring at the book. In few minutes, she started to yawn. She fell asleep keeping the book under the pillow.

A few days ago, Rama had seen the video of Japanese lady Marie Kondo on Netflix. Suddenly, she remembered that video. According to Marie Kondo, talk to these things and ask, do I need them? She thought to use Marie Kondo’s method. The moment started in the morning. Three shelves were filled with clothes, some properly and some just piled on top of others. She lent her ears to these clothes. She heard the mild whisper, “we also want to breathe, we are suffocating here….”

In fact, she had not seen at least one-quarter of them from last year. Then she heard another murmur, “Give us to someone to whom I can serve my purpose.” Eventually, she put the bundle of clothes in five different bags and made up her mind to give them to the workers. Now it’s the turn of the shoe rack. She observed her shoe and high heel sandals, which she could not bear due to her prolonged knee pain as if they were waiting for their chance. Few got crumbled and few were covered with dust, and few were covered with white fungus. She tossed them in the bin and gave a thought to give the good one to her cousin.

What we are losing in the shadow of women-empowerment

Now, it’s the turn of purses and clutches… when they opened them, Rama felt as if each purse was dancing with joy. It seemed to them that now it was their turn to be used. She places it all in a bag which she was packing for her cousin. The non-essential utensils in the kitchen, especially the broken cooker, steel plates cracked on the sides, she took them all out and put them aside. Eventually, the storeroom of the house was filled with bundles of non-essential items which were now going to be of any use. The mind was getting happier. Rama was feeling lighter at heart – these threads of infatuation… finally snapping away to have their own purpose.

While piling those items in one corner, Rama picked up some things out of fascination and kept them again on her shelf.  This time, her heart came forward, “String of memory would snap slowly.” What matters if I have taken something back?  Rama recalled her grandmother used to say the same thing about such items, “Diwali, is for the happiness of the house – empty the non-essential items.” Over time, she forgot that saying. Earlier the houses used to be big. There was ample place for anything and everything.  A cupboard was always empty for the guests. Especially for Buaji and Mama-Mami. We wait for their arrival during the school holidays. Now, the houses have become smaller. Due to being a nuclear family, people have reduced but our accessories have increased. After I’m gone, her kids will throw everything. I have habits of collecting items and due to that, I will remain indelible in their memories. Rama was thinking…

Chitra Gupta

Chitra Gupta is a poet, writer, and educator. She consistently pens her thoughts and her recent creations are published in Singapore Navras in association with Global Hindi Foundation, Singapore.