ive in a house long enough, and you’re bound to stash things in places. This is even more real when you’ve lived in the same house for generations, as is the case with me.
My grandfather built our house in the 1980s, and you can only imagine the memories it has witnessed and garnered over the course of 43 years. Only if these walls could speak, they would tell you many a tale about him.
One of my favourite memories is that of him sitting in the lawn, wearing his golfer’s cap and a cardigan on a sunny winter afternoon and eating blood oranges (the ones that are red inside). Had I read the story of Count Dracula early in my youth, I would’ve for sure suspected my grandfather to be that.
I had a similar theory about those oranges; they seemed weird to me back then. Why must an orange be red? Isn’t that self-contradictory, by definition?
As I was saying, four decades and three years, and you know which place gathers the most memories in the house? The stores and closets. Especially the ones that had been used not for storing clothes, but items that ‘could’ come into use, God knows when.
But such was the habit of people of that age. And I completely understand why they did it. They worked long and hard, and assets didn’t come easy, regardless of how little they might be. So they kept on stashing things, from all those colours of threads that my grandmother would stop using as she aged, to the small nuts and bolts that were kept in a box to be brought out whenever you needed to fix something.
Both my grandparents (may God bless them) have passed away, and these closets and stores have become a leave-it-as-it-is zone. It’s hard to throw away things that were kept by one’s parents for a long, long time. But we moved on in life, and as our world is gripped by fast-changing fashions, I needed more closet space. Seems like the only assets I’m making are my clothes.
So last weekend, my father took up this herculean task of cleaning one of the cupboards. That one cupboard had every mechanical/ electrical equipment that had been hoarded over the years. This wasn’t an easy target. As a person who lives by the motto “I’ll-fix-it-myself,” my dad has always managed to fix what we gave up hope on. And that closet has many a time acted as a facilitator, spouting out the exact things needed for that fix.
It’s hard to throw away things that were kept by one’s parents for a long, long time. But we moved on in life, and as our world is gripped by fast-changing fashions, I needed more closet space.
Explains why we needed it, but I’ll feel more guilt-free if I tell myself that we don’t any longer.
Once that closet was cleared up, the condition inside was exactly how you can imagine it. All that robust, rusty, greasy stuff lying around doesn’t leave a good face on those cupboard shelves. So I went out to get paint to give the inside a fresh look. After all, I am going to use it for my clothes now.
Mind you, this was the first time I was purchasing paint, so I asked the salesperson how much would be enough and what was the procedure. I opened the paint can, and it was NOT white (the colour I purchased). It was a brownish hue. The salesperson told me that I had to mix the paint with kerosene, and when I did so, it turned white. I felt like I was playing with magic potions.
I had two choices for the application method: a brush or a roller. I bought both at the shop. The brush because I had always seen it, and the roller because I had always seen satisfaction videos of it. At first, I was going to ask the house help to do it, but something inside me just didn’t let it be. I guess, like father like son, I’ll-fix-it-myself travels in the genes.
The truth is, after the first stroke, I just couldn’t stop. It was such a soothing feeling to paint over the discoloured walls and shelves, almost as if I was breathing new life into the cupboard. I told myself I’d do the first coat and let the help do the second, but that ‘gene’ took over again, and a couple of hours later, I was doing the second coat myself.
What I loved most about this activity was the realisation that even the simplest of things have been outsourced by our generation. It’s finding purpose in these little acts of your life that makes it worthwhile.
As I completed my day, the walls of this house had yet another story to tell — of how, after decades, this cupboard had taken a fresh start, just like I once did. But that’s a story for another time.
The writer is an ex-serviceman and a freelancer. He can be reached at shaafayziagmail.com