When the madness in my methods (putting newspapers and magazines on chairs, stacking books in the crockery shelf, shoes on book racks, strewing ball pens on the floor, etc.) crossed the tolerance level, the Home Minister issued a warning that she would soon teach me a lesson or two. A teacher herself, she, I knew, would not stop with mere words. I tried to improve myself with religious zeal, this lasting for a few days, and then, like the dog’s tail, it was all back to square one.
I revel in chaos not cosmos, disorder not order. If my table is in apple-pie order, I go mad. Psychologists and psychiatrists might be able to explain this aberration, but I am happy the way I am. I resent Nosy Parkers trying to reform me.
While in service, my office desk was an extension of my table at home. The reverse also held true. It was a lasting joke, tinged with truth, that crucial office papers apparently missing could be fished out from my personal folders and missives from close relations from office folders. I was an adept at misplacing my papers, which once led my boss (who had given me Excellent ratings consistently for years in the performance appraisal reports) to remark: “Your disposals are perfect, but your post-mortem work (putting papers in proper files, cross indexing them and so on) is lousy.” Once he even wrote in a file I handled, “For heaven’s sake, please do not delay the disposal of inspection reports”, little knowing the delay was an act of God, the very report to work on having made the vanishing trick. It required three able-bodied men and 10 hours to recover it from my daughter’s leather bag I’d taken to office with her notes for correction in spare hours.
One extremely enjoyable thing about misplacing things is that you search everywhere in your attempts to retrieve them. Then, lo and behold: things whose existence you had forgotten all along jump up—your favourite pen over the loss of which you shed tears for months, the sharpeners that gave you immense pleasure when, during your idle hours, you went on disposing of pencils in quick succession, the glass paperweight you used to keep by the side of your pillow as you went to sleep, the unopened box of stapler pins you feared you had kissed goodbye. Imagine my ecstasy when I found a `100 note between the moth-eaten pages of a Wodehouse novel I’d bought 55 years ago! I have come across many yellowed letters written by friends, not to mention some highly inflammatory, incriminatory ones from girlfriends, promptly destroyed by burning.
While trying to lay hands on things, if you knew where precisely to look for them, would this kind of unseen world have opened up, this unfelt pleasure? I was born this way, I continued this way and I’d like the epitaph on my tomb to be: Here lies one who was mad in his methods but never allowed methods to creep into his madness.