Everyone needs a place for junk in their homes — even if, as we all know, we are not supposed to collect junk in the first place!
For most of our lives, we have had convenient garages where we were hard-pressed to squeeze in a car but we could park all manner of other items: cartons, trunks, crates, terracotta pots and even stuffed jute sacks. It was understood that if something was dumped into the garage, it was not needed for everyday life — although we also stored our air-coolers and room-heaters there, and depending on the weather, dusted and serviced them and brought them indoors.
Most often, however, we used the garage for “goods in transit”. That is, we had every intention of getting rid of whatever we relegated to that halfway house, but we could not make a clean break at that point in time … Perhaps, we promised ourselves, with another think in another few months, we would be able to let it go.
Of course, that rarely happened. There were two reasons for this. One, because once it was out of sight, it was out of mind, and we never got down to thinking about whether we had any use for that particular “something” at any time in our foreseeable future. If anything, we dumped a few more items into the garage with a similar resolve to assess their use at a later date!
Two, when it was time to pack up and leave town — and we did this all through our childhood and our working lives — we somehow always had space in the transport van/truck/lorry for all our worldly and worthy possessions plus all the junk: and another garage in another town became the repository of things we hadn’t looked at in years!
Thus, Father stored his precious fishing rods there and brought them out reverently along with his reels, hooks, flies and feathers whenever he went for a picnic or a fishing expedition. There was no way he would get rid of his fishing tackle although it was something of an eyesore for the rest of us! So, instead of grumbling about how he was taking up space in the garage, we quietly hid a tool kit, a case of wool, paints and canvas, a Bullworker, badminton racquets: and thus each of us had a vested interest in never sorting out our garage full of junk!
In our adult lives our “junk space” was not very different. Perhaps the fishing tackle was replaced by a golf set, the paints with bits of tiles and coloured stones for the mosaic that never got made … It didn’t matter that no one in the family had ever teed off on any green or that there was no real design for a mosaic in anyone’s imagination. When the possibilities from our junk were endless, who cared about the probabilities?
When we first visited Dubai, we admired our relatives’ spotless apartments and all the amenities in the high-rise buildings where they lived, but once our suitcases were unpacked, we began to wonder where all their “junk” went.
A sister’s home, thankfully, had a large cupboard-under-the-stairs where her “extras” went — and so did ours for the time we were there.
Our son’s home, however, was neat and minimalistic — not because we had not passed on our messy genes to him but because all his junk filled up our home in India! Even more galling, he had little patience with our inability to toss away the single-use but attractive plastic bags, containers and cutlery we brought back from our daily jaunts to eateries, supermarkets and souks — and it took all our inventiveness to stash this “junk” out of his sight until we returned home to the familiar and comfortable feel of our own private junk-filled garage!
— Cheryl Rao is a writer based in India