The father is in mourning. Why? Because he can’t go on a picnic if he wants to. That’s why.
You see, the parents moved to a new home and an unnamed fear gripped me – that would mean that all the junk stored in the lofts of the current home would just move to the new home. That has been the modus operandi for years. This is also the reason the house looks like this:
Obviously, the siblings had been harboring the same misgivings for they swooped in and convinced them that they would help out with the move.
The parents’ home has clutter mostly of the educational variety. There is enough material for anyone wanting to give a speech on any topic. Do you want to refer to a newspaper article that appeared in 1983 where the education minister’s credentials were questioned? No problem. The Father has it cut and stored somewhere. Do you want to know the speech that Jawaharlal Nehru gave in 1952? No problem, the cuttings are there in one of the 53 boxes with boxed clippings on the loft behind the typewriter somewhere. When questioned, he claims that that is the secret behind his stellar speeches, and also why schools still come to him to deliver speeches long after he has retired. That is also how the clutter built up over the years.
The problem during the shifting arose due to the differences in philosophy between the children and the parents. If the Father’s mantra was ‘When in doubt, store it in the loft’, ours was ‘When in doubt, throw it away!’
I called a few days later and the father moaned into the phone. I asked him what the matter was, and he said, “What is the point? Everything is gone ma! Your brother and sister threw everything away!”
We had expected a certain heartache for his missing collectables.”Yes appa I know! Enjoy a clutter free house!” I said with a trifle too much optimism.
“You don’t know ma! I can’t even go on a picnic.”
I had no idea that de-cluttering could derail picnicking plans like this.
“They threw away a fantastic tiffin carrier. A stainless steel one. It had 7 compartments and could hold sambhar, rasam, curry, kootu, appalam, rice and payasam!”
Why one would carry a full fledged South Indian meal full of diluted curries that run all over your plate on a picnic was beyond me, but I shelved the q for a moment and asked him to tell me more. I remember the ghastly thing – it was the height of a small tree and had 7 boxes placed one on top of the other.
“When was the last time you took the tiffin carrier on a picnic appa?”
“That is the not the point, I could have.”
“Yes appa – are you planning on going on a picnic?”
“That is not the point! And why would I go for a picnic with your mother now?”
“But the tiffin carrier was a solid one.”
I felt sorry for the man. We had, after all, thrown out all but a few of his shirts and pants. So, I told him, “You know what? If you really need a tiffin carrier, go and buy yourself one and go on a picnic.”
“That is not the point!”
When a phrase like that pops up 3 times in 4 sentences, one questions the point.
“Okay – what is the point then?”
“The point is, if I had that tiffin carrier, I could have gone on a picnic with a splendid meal! And now, I can’t.”
I had to agree with his impeccable logic.
“Yes appa and you could have sat by the shade of a tree and listened to that old Gramaphone record while reading ‘Discovery of India’ by Jawaharlal Nehru”
“Discovery of India -ooooh!” and he went off to moan about the loss of the splendid book.