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This, that and everything else

Anjana Jha on why we attach sentimental value to inanimate objects and end up hoarding them.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 22, 2013 12:17 IST
Anjana Jha
Anjana Jha
Hindustan Times

It's always been difficult. Perhaps even hopeless. Every attempt to let go requires enormous will power. Attachment to animate or inanimate objects is a complex human emotion. It's a trait inherent in all of us.

Yet for some reason difficult to fathom, most men have a tendency to go into complete denial, conveniently attributing the tendency to acquire and preserve things as being a typical feminine characteristic.

And of course, ungenerously refer to it as hoarding.

Everyone is afflicted Granted that there have been instances that can lend considerable weight to their argument. Quoting former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos' alleged collection of 15 mink coats, 508 gowns, 888 handbags and over a thousand pairs of shoes as example though is somewhat unfair.

One can't generalise on the strength of such remarkable cases to prove that men are impervious to similar failings! Wasn't it our very own star coffee drinker

Karan Johar who recently admitted to being a clothes aficionado, indulging in new outfits without bothering about occasions or excuses?

Closer home, my son is certainly no KJo but the number of clothes he has is ridiculous. With his wardrobe literally bulging at the seams, garments in use hang in disarray from every available hook in his room and bathroom.

Not a result of compulsive shopping as one would imagine but the total inability to discard anything, be it frayed, faded or of the wrong size.

It's a similar story with his books and music. But then, why fault's an inherited genetic disorder!

In his genes The symptoms were discovered soon after marriage. Still under training, my husband was leading a nomadic life with all his worldly goods packed in a couple of suitcases, a trunk and an archaic hold-all.

After setting up our first home, wifely duties made it mandatory for me to inspect his possessions. That's when his handicap was discovered - the almost umbilical attachment to illogical things!

The variety of books, journals and papers that the trunk disgorged was nothing short of impressive.

But what flummoxed me completely was the mound of exercise books filled to the last inch with his tidy illegible calligraphy.

From MSc notes preserved for reasons completely beyond my comprehension to copious notes of innumerable lectures attended during the training period.

Though I did eventually succeed in making him donate the former lot to some hapless recipient a few years later, the latter continue to travel with us even today.

Problem of multiplicity And so do a lot more memorabilia accumulated over the years. With equations changing and the family growing, possessions have multiplied.

And correspondingly, so have items with the sentiment factor. Baby clothes worn by the children, diaries and notebooks filled with squiggles and doodles, report cards from nursery to date, soft toys and dinky cars.

All zero utility but definitely in the not-to-be-discarded category.

Now every time there is a transfer and we move base, packing gives me an update of all that has accrued since the last posting.

And as the number of boxes and cartons multiply alarmingly, I renew my resolve to make detachment my new mantra, get rid of things and drastically decrease our luggage. The intention continues to be there - it just needs to be put into action more forcefully.

First Published: Jun 11, 2007 12:23 IST