Things

So Ireland has defeated England and this World Cup is turning like its own wickets. We thrive so much on heroics. I have thrived on my own heroics of last year. I have thrived so much on my heroics that I totally missed the mundane.

This blog post – pressed, repressed, depressed and super-pressed after finishing the 32nd year of my life – is about the mundane.

About more than a month ago, in some fit of craziness, I decided to auction some of the things that I was owning, to complete my 10k donation for SPARROW. One of the few people who wrote back to me on this initiative was Prem Sagar. He mentioned something to the effect that he was touched by my selflessness in giving away the things I owned for SPARROW. Quite honestly, when Prem wrote this of me to me, I was pretty dismissive of myself and I thought this guy was reading too much meaning in my fund raising efforts.

Things: I have never thought so much about things – books, cameras, tables, chairs, guitars, and what have you. But events have turned out to be such that I have had to think of things.

Sometime last year, Francesca and myself were discussing how it would be very tough on us to give our books away to people. We loved our books so much. But Francesca mentioned that she had made a beginning by giving away couple of the books she was carrying in her pack while traveling in India. I really never thought then that I could give up my books. They mean so much to me and as I have mentioned in my earlier post, my books are like my children – I am so attached to them!

This year, 2011, began in a crazy way for me. 2010 ended with an ovarian cyst. At the beginning of 2011, I started giving up on things which I thought would have a life beyond the confines of where I live. I began by announcing things to give away on the Bangalore Free Cycle group. The first thing to go was my old guitar which I had bought and started learning at a phase in my life where I discovered what magics romantic love could do to a person. Someone came and picked it up for their daughter who was beginning to learn how to play. Sometimes I matched things with people and gave them up. A thing that went in this manner was my scanner which was one of the few electronic items that I had managed to buy from one of my earliest research grants. Santhosh took it for the lab he is trying to set up at Ananya school. Among the last to go was my digital camera which I had bought of my first research fellowship that is responsible for the fame and credibility I presently have as a researcher.

The first few efforts at giving away things were simply from a desire to de-clutter my surroundings and therefore my own life. In the past, I have written endlessly about space and how physical space i.e., surroundings, have such an enormous impact on our mental and emotional imaginations of space and therefore our relationships. Living in a 6,000 square feet house, I realized suddenly how I was living in the midst of enormous clutter which had accumulated over years and years. A number of things which are owned by my in-laws, husband and his brother, which have several memories and emotions attached to them. And they are preserved also, exactly, for the reasons of memories and emotions. Over time, not only does the dust of the city collect on them, all sorts of dusts of emotions settle too, to an extent that giving up on these things becomes highly difficult. For instance, my father-in-law still remains attached to the old sound system which he first purchased in some decade of the 1900. He is proud of the wood that the system is made of, the kind of wood that will not be seen around much these days. He refuses to give up the sound system. My mother-in-law has used the one of the wooden sound boxes of the system as a support structure for the sofa in the living room and she is afraid that giving up the sound system would mean giving up the support structure for the sofa set. So the sound system stays for all the emotional and pragmatic reasons. And dust collects …

De-cluttering became highly important for me because I have been living in the present house cluttered with several emotions. Somehow, it seemed to me that making space by giving up things would also help me to de-clutter my own emotions and memories and make way for some introspective space inside my person.

From de-cluttering, the giving up of things in the month of February gathered another meaning altogether. By now, I had started removing books from my personal collection and putting them up for sale. Many times, I would cringe when I gave up each book, but the act of giving seemed to create an empty space which was now open for something new to take over. On one occasion, Prem and I got chatting on gtalk when I suddenly found myself telling him that if I were able to give up these things which had so many emotions, memories and meanings attached to them, the act of giving up held the opportunity for me to become a better person. In retrospect, I find that giving things made me a more lighter person in some aspects. I am not completely free of all emotions and clutter, but at least my perspective has changed.

I have faced conflicts in the same month of February about things – asking people to move their things around has evoked strong reactions; hearing from people about things occupying much space and the building up of conflicts thereafter has made me wonder about relationships that we share with things; strong feelings of possession of some things than others has made me ask questions about ownership and authorship in retrospects.

The 32nd year has ended on the note of things. I hope that the 33rd year continues to shower the wisdom of things, in addition to helping me attain equilibrium by realigning my breathing patterns that remain fundamental to all my health problems and to my running pace. I don’t have a plan of action for things in this 33rd year. For breath, my plan of action is to run that half marathon in Ladakh and push the boundaries of grit, strength and spirit further.

I am not sure how to end this post. I don’t even know whether the meanderings of my thoughts are making any sense any more because the things have moved on as much as the corresponding experiences and emotions have …

Dedicated to Ravi Rao, for reasons unknown …

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About writerruns

I am lost in life. I now run to lose myself and to lose the handles I have been holding on to.
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3 Responses to Things

  1. Pooja Sudhir says:

    I simply loved this post…and the ideas/learning it contained…seldom do we realize how much more space we would be making for thoughts and ideas and experiences if we get out of the consoling trap of things….which are there to full you into believing- ‘you’ve had enough’

  2. Prakash says:

    the ardent wish to ‘travel light’ in many more ways than one, was a near obsession with me for the past 3 years. remember the practical and moreso the sheer ‘desire’ to possess things just doesnt go away completely, but i try. but life in its myriad ways keeps bringing so much more to my plate than i would even have had nightmares about, leave alone wished even a few years back. am almost back to square one with an obnoxiously big house i find myself living alone in and hence coming with the paraphernalia…emotional and otherwise…

    connected so strongly with your post…am going to start all over again.

    • francesca says:

      this is for me a never ending process, a constant decision, choice and deliberation.
      a state of mind that i continue to unlearn and hence i have to re-learn every time i realise i have forgotten.
      so, dear zainab, thanks for the reminder!

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