Baggage of Memories

by Chandrika R Krishnan


Is it easy to pack all your memories in a suitcase?  It is not easy, but that is what we expected our mother to do; to pack up 60 years of memories with my father and the family that they had made together into a bag.  We asked her to pack up whatever she had accumulated playing the role of a wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother into a bag to carry it wherever she needed to go.

For the last few years, we, my siblings and I (all girls) were exhorting our parents to stay with us considering their advancing age and they did comply, yet, they had the opportunity to go back to their own house to spend a few months in a year, more so at my mother’s insistence.

We lost our father recently and selling the house is the only option in front of us; we too like Hamlet are oscillating between what objects to keep and what to dispose.

My mother is one of the most practical of the women we ever knew. She always was clearing the house of its clutter and truth be told, our houses are far more cluttered than hers.  Despite that, as we are emptying our parent’s house, each and every object causes us untold misery to part with more so for my mother who feels the tide of life slipping away from her.  She frequently balks at throwing away some faded handiwork that she had done for we can see her holding the same with a far off look in her eyes. More than the object per se, it is the life that was woven around the same that is making her feel so nostalgic and melancholic.

Alexander the Great purportedly told, “I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed.”

Despite that profound thought; it did not desist him from conquering an empire that stretched from the Balkans to modern-day Pakistan. I am not too aware of the war spoils he had collected!

Closer home, our Bhagwad Gita tries to blunt our need for acquisition and preservation.  Most of us human beings are pack rat at best.  Long back I had come across a quote, ““Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”  The quote hits home too close, but despite that I know that clearing up memories is easier said than done. The old letters from loved ones, the birthday cards, the photo albums ( before the advent of the digital camera), the various handicraft that we had attempted to do, the faded recipe book and most of all the favourite reads are some of the things that we hate parting with.

Strange is the mind-set of human beings. We create memories in our mind but we need a trigger to make the same come to the forefront and that is what is hampering my octogenarian mother from being more practical. I wish we had more room for her and her memories.
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Photo by Kasturi Roy on Unsplash



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