Spice of life | Living with less or living with excess?
I quickly googled ‘minimalism’, which essentially told me the same thing. It is described as ‘a tool to rid yourself of material excesses and superfluous possessions, in lieu of discovering what is significant and meaningful in life.punjab Updated: Jun 26, 2017 13:51 IST
My son came home for the weekend and before leaving, he handed me the contents of his cupboard. He said, “Ma, please give these away. I don’t need these clothes and shoes.”
My hyperactive mind, fearing the worst, went on two diverse tangents. Is he taking off for the Himalayas in quest of the elusive connect with his inner self as is fashionable these days? Or more plausibly, a mischievous genie, like a little ticker in my brain, warned me of another announcement regarding an impending astronomical expenditure, whereby he’s to splurge on a new wardrobe and thus the crazy decision to throw out a perfectly decent one?
I went through extreme reactions, ranging from wonder, dismay, anger to frustration when he continued in utmost seriousness. “Please Ma, don’t go ballistic. Let me explain.” As I stared open mouthed at him, he firmly closed the bulging suitcase with one heave and handing it to me, continued sagely, “From now on, I am going to make a conscious effort to live a minimalistic life. I have decided to start with my personal belongings so henceforth seven shirts, half a dozen boxers and three pairs of shoes are all I am going to keep. We need to learn that less is more. We should lead by example.”
Reeling from the shock at this sea change in him, from a passionate, consumer driven to suddenly frugal and prudent boy, I quickly googled ‘minimalism’, which essentially told me the same thing. It is described as ‘a tool to rid yourself of material excesses and superfluous possessions, in lieu of discovering what is significant and meaningful in life, so one can focus on pursuing happiness, freedom and fulfillment, without the distractions of ownership and control.”
Impressed with his sensible outlook and determination, I turned guiltily towards my own wardrobe, his words ringing uncomfortably in my ears. The numerous hangers packed tightly one against each other, bent under the weight of dresses, the shelves spilling with clothes and the shoes piled up in the drawers, all stared at me reproachfully. But the woman that I am, minimalism will take a little more convincing.
Refraining from making a similar, hasty decision, I promised to give it serious thought and followed him out quietly, a little rebuked and sombre.
Piling his clothes for distribution, my mind went back to our childhood and I remembered my nani’s and mother’s trunks. They were only opened at propitious times, before an impending family wedding or special occasion and we children would crowd around for the visual treat, completely enthralled! Goggle-eyed ,we would stare at the veritable treasure trove, from shimmering Banaras and gossamer Kota sarees woven with pure gold thread, silver belts with beautiful links and chains, old fashioned bell-bottoms which fit perfectly, Japanese paintings on painstakingly rolled parchment, cracked and yellowing, exquisite party bags made from genuine crocodile and lizard skin, their brassware a little tarnished, a breathtaking Royal Doulton teapot with a missing lid, imported hair rollers, dogeared encyclopedias and first edition books without binding, to a coffee grinder and even a cocktail mixer. There would be gleeful exclamations and maybe regretful sighs, a little story or incident narrated as each piece was brought up and decisions made as how best to use it at present. Relics of times and dear ones gone by, they evoked precious memories and stoked golden remembrances. How could they have even considered giving them away, so nonchalantly and casually?
So, not completely convinced with this new jargon and fad, perched that I am, midway between a generation that cares, frowns upon waste and disregard and one that is able to coldly detach and with complete indifference part with objects and bits and pieces on a whim. Minimalism will take some persuading!
(The writer is a Jalandhar-based freelance contributor)
First Published: Jun 26, 2017 13:06 IST