JournalismPakistan.com Aug 12, 2013
Every now and then I decide to clean up my act. Sort of get down to it and throw out all the stuff I do not need. You know, drawers full of meaningless and useless pieces of paper that have absolutely no redeeming value.
Get up in the morning sloshing about with resolve, determined to have this merry bonfire of the vanities by afternoon except that the vanities don't let you get a big enough pile together.
Here is what happens. You come across invitations to parties long over but, in some way they are evidence of your having been there, splinters of history, evidence that you played eyewitness to the VIP wedding, the live performance of a star, the sports event, the party of the decade, can't get rid of it. So, you iron out the wrinkles and then preserve it.
Matchboxes from famous restaurants with one stick unspent, post it yellow notes with an indecipherable Reccegrthee 5464545 written on it, the meaning of which is a complete mystery but who knows what the solution might bring so keep it.
Old bills salted away like jerky, no one knows why but it seems a shame to let the skeins of the past slip away.
Letters. That's a whole ball game in itself. You need to be especially hard hearted to tear up letters and their cute little offspring, the greeting cards. How can you tear up cards sent to you even if they are three years old...memories are made of such things, especially when you don’t get sent cards anymore?
By now, you have gone about half way through your spring cleaning but there isn't much spring in the cleaning. So far, all you have placed in the discarded bin is an old credit card bill and it sits there in solitary splendor condemned by your ruthlessness.
All of us have certain blind spots. Mine is boarding passes and used up air ticket foils.
There seems no reason whatsoever to keep them but even less reason to throw them. You feel that some of the past is going down the tube if you tear up these cards. Leastways, I do.
My friend has a different hang up. He can't destroy wedding invitations. He has chests crammed with cards to weddings where the bride and groom are now battling teenage children. I know of a lot of people who can't ever get rid of New Year cards and birthday cards and anniversary cards and they hoard them even when they are ten years old. Not to forget half written letters that never got posted...who knows, one day they might find the recipient.
It is now phase two of the clean-up exercise, having bravely added one visitor's card to the discard bin from about 133 discovered in various crevices and folds and pockets of which 123 are absolutely unrecognizable. After all, who is PS Tugnait, Vice President Securicore and when did I meet him first and how come we never met again. So what do you do, you put them together with a rubber band because you can't really throw them away. People have hundreds of these name cards they will never use but can't dump.
They also have half used sticky tape, dried up tube of superglue, a strip of staples but no gun, pencil stubs, mini-diaries outdated by five years, an invitation to a show from 2004, a letter of thanks from the principal of a school for your attendance last summer to their annual day and bent out of shape paper clips half frosted with rust.
Can you throw them? Do you have the courage? The 'keep' pile increases as you add on seven keys to locks you haven't a clue about but no one can throw away a key, it is uncivilized, so you retain all seven.
Finally, you take your throw away collection of one bill, one card, three pieces of post it yellow scrap and a cutting from the paper for making caramel custard plus a broken keychain given to you by an old friend. Which, at the last minute you rescue for sentimental reasons.
Good job done.
(Published under my name in Times of India so courtesy TOI)
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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