Closet cleaning is tiring work. In spite of a conscious effort to live lightly, life clings. Things too pretty to be thrown away, old business cards belonging to people I can’t put faces to, contacts that were once important, now mercifully not. I unearthed this morning one card that says Sundeep Sikand! Could this really be the TV honcho? I had no idea I had ever met the man.
I found a bundle of letters, one from a friend telling me she’d fallen in love – she sounds ecstatic, borderline disbelief that she should be so lucky. I was about to remind her of it: ‘Hey, look! A slice of your life recorded, a leaf still fluttering in my shelf,’ and then drew back, hesitating. Would it be tactful? She could hardly be in the same state of mind, and if she saw this now, would she be indulgent, or cynical, or wistful? Second thoughts, as always, blunting that first exuberant impulse.
From another letter, I remembered with a start, a forgotten nickname; I’d forgotten school-friends used to called me Shells. All of us dispersed and adrift now, we have carelessly let go of threads that held us loosely together.
Recipes! Always gathered, hardly ever used. Credit card statements – a few years’ worth. Notepads full of notes for stories long done. Notes with more detail than I put into the articles – I can’t bear to burn those. Phone numbers are a journalist’s lifeline, but am I a journalist? I find the tag burdensome, and shrug it off, with the numbers. They’re probably too old to be of use anyway.
Then considerably more grimy than when I started, I open a fresh bar of rose soap and bathe away the past. What washes away goes, and the rest, I carry anyway.