Woes of downsizing priceless mementos

Published: 30th September 2013 07:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th September 2013 07:40 AM   |  A+A-

I think this happens to many people. The more I try to downsize, the more things I seem to acquire. Take for instance the gifts presented at functions. Some are very innovative like a bouquet (I like the false flowers which last longer than fresh ones), a basket of fruits or even a potted plant. I dislike souvenirs like the model of a rocket in glass or just a metal plate on a wooden stand — all of which I have no place or inclination to display in my home.

One of my friends told me that at a certain college function, she deliberately left behind a memento given to her — it was large and unwieldy and anyway she didn’t think it was a “piece de resistance”. But after a few days of returning home, she had a parcel by courier which was this souvenir she had tried very hard not to bring back, but which the organisers thought she had forgotten to take with her!

When you start to downsize, you don’t know where to begin. Clothes — you have heaps of them and your sentimental mind does not allow you to part with any, unless you are brutal with your approach. I have inherited some choice clothes from my dear departed sisters and I find it difficult to let go of them even if some of them are not of my size or taste.

Abroad, “junking” comes naturally, even to Indians, as there is no space for anything except the essentials. Once a close relative of ours kept out a good suitcase saying there was no room for it, but it was later promptly brought back by another close relative, saying she would need it to take back stuff to India.

One day I decided to see what to do about the large number of photographs we have gathered over the years. As I went through each album, memories came flooding. I spent the whole day with everything spread out. I had no time to put them back neatly — and that work remains to be done — but the point is that I can’t get rid of any of them.

A similar thing has happened with the many letters received from family, friends and pen friends — some of them are wonderful epistles and I don’t have the heart to burn them — though I know that after me, no one would be as interested in them.

And what about all the handbags collected over the years from different parts of the world—all as good as new but being overtaken by modern styles to suit the needs of the present day such as a special space for the “mobile” (something that keeps it safe but can still be retrieved quickly) and different pockets for different currencies — as everyone is travelling so much.

One room is full of papers gathered from many conferences and meetings — my son tells me to throw them for he says “you can get any information on the computer and all what you have is outdated.”

There are many gadgets (past their prime), and kitchen things furniture and so on. The heart is unwilling. All the seers of the world have said it is the mind which is your enemy and it is the same mind which can be your friend. Today I’m starting to make it my friend.


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