Four Boxes and a Scrapbook
I desperately want to sneeze. I am not sick or anything. I am sitting amidst a lot of dusty old stuff and I had an inspiration to write. I am supposed to be packing and in true procrastinator fashion, now I feel like writing something. I happily oblige because you can’t argue with procrastinator brain. Any procrastinator worth their salt will know this.
Packing. Boring noun that not only sounds like a pain in the rear end, but also involves a lot of work, including weightlifting. I am not worried about not having enough time to pack though. I am sort of an expert when it comes to packing. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a hosteler. School boarding to college hostels to working womens hostel. So it comes as no surprise that I can pack well. By well I mean messily, but really really fast. Going home for the Onam holidays? Quick packing, but make sure to lock everything that you leave behind. Christmas holidays? Make sure to pack a church appropriate outfit or Grandmother will find one, which is a nightmare to be honest. Last day of school packing? Pack all the story books, it’s gonna be a long vacation. Last ever day of school, never coming back packing? Better start right away and leave nothing behind or your junior roommates won’t hear the end of it. Packing for college? Get locks on every trunk and bag, your roommates maybe kleptomaniacs. Packing when leaving college? Leave those assignment books and record books, they are probably going to collect dust in the farthest corner of your room. Packing when you get your first job? Take all the things you can find at home, because you won’t have enough money to spend on things that were lying around in your house. Packing when you are moving away from your childhood home forever? You might want to take some stupid stuff from your childhood bedroom to remember it all. Trust me. Packing when you are leaving because there is uncertainity about when you have to return to offices due to an ongoing pandemic? That’s what I am doing.
Yet packing is so much more than just putting everything into a box. Atleast it is for me. Making a list, checking it twice and crossing off the ones I’ve already packed. As I go to check if I’ve left any clothes on the clothes-line I am invariably reminded of all the times I’ve been there, more importantly that I won’t be going there again. As I fill water from the cooler I am reminded of all the fun me and my roommate used to have as we filled the bottles. Putting away my beloved books into a box, takes me back in time to when I bought them. The second hand book shops, crammed with dusty books, how excited I was about getting back to the room to finally read them. These clothes that I don’t wear anymore? They remind me of the crazy shopping sprees I’ve had. Folded neatly on my bed they sat now a reminder to start exercising. My bed. I remember how I used to sit here on this very bed and cry because I was jobless. This room has seen so much of my drama. My room which is really dark even at twelve noon. The comforting blanket that the darkness provided. How I jumped up and down with joy when I finally got a job! It was here in this very room. These corridors have seen me at my worst. I am packing these memories along with everything else. I do that all the time. When I was moving from my childhood home forever I was packing and I didn’t feel emotional at all, atleast not in the beginning. Yet when I started removing the funny stickers I had put up on my bedroom door I started choking up. I always say I am a logical person, not an emotional person but those stickers are now inside my cupboard door where I can see them daily.
Packing is also leaving behind stuff. Like those earrings I never wear but didn’t throw out until now. Those forsaken pair of shoes, that no longer seems cool? Yeah they are getting left behind. Lack of space and difficulty to carry around useless stuff is often the reason for this behaviour. It’s like finally deleting those songs on your playlist that you never listen to. That’s not all I am leaving here. I am also leaving a bit of me here. My roommates and all the fun we had? Leaving that life here. Late night talks and scary movies? None of that can come. Take out and romcom nights? I’ve got to leave it here. Cornflakes for breakfast and ice-cream for lunch? Can’t take that with me. Watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S on repeat to forget about my real life problems? Bye-bye binge watching. Talking to my friends for hours on end because I was bored? Probably not again. But I am packing the memories of course.
Leaving behind all this, unlike packing does not get easier with experience. I don’t feel any better after all these years of practice, quite the opposite actually, it is becoming harder each time. Its one more place to forget, its one more place that I won’t see ever again, one more bitter sweet memory to add to the collection. For someone who has moved almost every two years I am quite bad at leaving behind emotional attachment.
At the end of the packing procedure I have ended up with four boxes and a scrapbook. Two years I have spend here and I have these four boxes to show for it. It seems a little underwhelming, at the end of it all this is all I have. Two of those boxes are just all the books I brought! Everything that matters is not in there though. They are in the scrapbook, memories, unforgettable moments, those happy days when my face hurt from smiling, those sad nights when I cried myself to sleep, it’s what matters in the end. I am done packing. Here I have it! Four boxes and a scrapbook.