Being called a loser isn’t nice. Trust me. I’ve been on the receiving end of that particular stick for very long because at any given time, there are at least three things I have misplaced in the house and despite days of searching, have not managed to locate.
One would imagine that a loser like me is careless, tossing things about with no thought to where they belong in any reasonable household.
But I’m not careless. If anything, I’m over-careful.
Always anxious to keep everything fragile out of harm’s way and everything precious out of sight. The problem is that being so careful, okay, I’ll say it again if you insist — “over-careful” — practically everything I own is precious. All my possessions have to be squirrelled away, but cannot be stuffed together in one place marked, “Treasure” or “Secret Cache” or just “Precious” — because there are too many of them.
Those signed copies of Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt series (obtained after standing in a queue for a good two hours); that first step into the world of Harry Potter — unsigned, but equally precious because my son and I read it together; that rainbow-hued crocheted throw rug that my friend brought me from Tasmania and we need for only a week a year since winter isn’t a word we are over-familiar with; the fragile glass angels we carried all the way from Burano and almost sat on when we finally unpacked them ... Can all of these be lumped together and then dumped together on one shelf in a cupboard?
So, after a great deal of reflection over each item, I find a suitably safe place for each. Not a hiding place, mind you. Just a temporary resting place.
But, with the logic of why I chose that nesting spot soon forgotten, it is only natural that all those personal treasures disappear into places so safe and hidden from human hand and eye that it is unlikely that they will ever surface again.
The increasing frequency of my ‘losses’ is getting to be downright depressing — and so, when I find something that was “lost”, I put it to use immediately.
Thus, I take that neat little red and black handbag to a party although it clashes with the other colours I wear. (That sneaky handbag had slyly disguised itself and hidden in the very same cupboard I had unsuccessfully scoured from top to bottom the day I wore a red ensemble and wanted to impress my friends with my colour-coordinating abilities.)
Now, here it is, popping out of the woodwork when what I require is my grey carry-all. So why not just sling it over my shoulder and hope that no one notices that it doesn’t match my clothes or my shoes?
Hopefully, my friends and acquaintances have moved beyond being eagle-eyed and over-critical and I will not hear a scornful, “What were you thinking? Red-and-black with that?”
Surely at that party I will find other losers like me who will: a) give an understanding nod and ignore the glaring mismatch because they sport something as incongruous on their person; or, b) smile and pat me on the shoulder and whisper good-humouredly, paraphrasing Mark Twain’s words, “I empathise. Of all the things I’ve lost, I too miss my mind the most;” or, c) be so completely lost in their own befuddled world that they won’t even notice.
Or, best of all, d) there could be a perennially positive thinker in their midst and I will get a high five and hear, “Go, girl! Think of all the other stuff you’ll unearth when you find your matching bag!”
She’s right. Losing isn’t so bad when you know that eventually you’ll find what you lost!
Cheryl Rao is a journalist based in India.