Saturday, 14 May 2011

Just cardboard?

My boxes have arrived from London.

Zafar has to share his territory for a few days
I thought that this moment would bring me Sadness; now that the last pieces of my life in London have left and come to join me here. Everything of mine would be at this end of the world, and London would become a stranger’s land (although the weekly ‘Planned Engineering Works’ emails from TfL do keep me updated on disruptions to the Central Line – no service between Newbury Park and Grange Hill this weekend!).

Luckily for me, a love-connection is not so easily lost, or broken. You do not love a place because your belongings are there; you love it because it holds people and experiences that are dear to you (and maybe because you miss the walking and the food – Malaysia is neither walker- nor vegetarian-friendly).

Thankfully, memories and moments I have plenty of. Of course there is also my other reality: that I am happy, grateful and oh-so blessed to be in my family’s home too (my favourite part of the day is when we all crowd around the breakfast table in the evening, Zafar included!) – therefore the emotion of sadness would be misplaced.

Maybe I should feel Relief? That my boxes survived their 2-month journey across seas, canals, oceans and straits, left the Suez unscathed, were ignored by pirates, and passed customs officers without hassle (or pilferage). I am of course highly envious of their expedition – I’ve only made the trip by air, but a voyage by sea, how thrilling (let’s add it to the list)! I have yet to check for damage, but the boxes were taped at every angle and I have a feeling that when I open them I will be greeted by the scent of my old flat.

Or Disappointment, that it took only 4 boxes to pack up a life and move it. How could everything I own have fit into them and why-oh-why did I not shop more before I left (thinking especially of the amber Portsmouth shoes, new edition of The Prophet, and ILoveLondon kitsch that was left to tease me from shop windows)? God knows when I will be reunited with Amazon or Daunt’s or Monsoon or Paperchase (although Accessorize has been spotted, all cheer!). This thought is short-lived, though – my room is already filled to the brim with KL-junk, and many an evening has been spent by Pitaji and me standing at the doorway to my room, thinking: where are we going to put the rest of it?!?! We are forced to embark on a mission of installing new shelves.

Restlessness. I have had 12 homes in my short life (now moving back to #9) and have come to love my nomadic existence. In my childhood the moves were further apart, but lately I seem to be living out of a suitcase, what with the trips to KL (3 in 2010 alone!), sleepovers at a friend’s in the Far East (Stratford), and a life in audit (there is no place like Burton-on-Trent, really). Moving can be frustrating (what, another box!), but in exchange it is detoxifying. Another opportunity to clear out things I don’t need (usually very few), get things I do (usually very many), reconsider my perspective on which items are important and where they should be placed (feng shui of the soul), rearrange my possessions just for the kick of it (yay!), and practice detachment (although admittedly this one is progressing rather slowly given that I now have more stuff than I ever did). Given all this, having everything back in one place is too (physically) grounding. (I think I have root-phobia).

(I have suddenly realised that my love for exclamation marks is surpassed only by my love for parentheses!). I make joke, I am tickled pink.

I love that phrase: tickled pink.

And there is no denying it: the feeling of Resignation looms as well. I have been home for a month now and have been living in sin (read: (1) my table is a frightful mess of files, cables, bags, and whatever-else-is-under-that-pink-scarf; (2) the lounge chair is covered in clothes to be mended/ sorted/ ironed; and (3) the suitcase is still on the floor, unemptied). This is shocking because (1) I like things in order and am an obsessive scrubaholic; (2) Mataji likes things in order and is an obsessive tidyupaholic; and (3) at one (tiny) point in time my brother’s room looked neater than mine. The excuse so far has been that let everything get here, it will be easier to sort it all in one go once I (1) have an estimate of how much in each category I have; (2) figure out what belongs where; and (3) catalogue all my books (Hargobind, it has been noted that Three Cups of Tea and the God Delusion are not on my shelves). And now that the boxes are here, the amnesty period is over.

But for now, let me rest with Wonder. I turn to the far reaches of my memory to look for what could be in the boxes, but because I packed everything away so quickly it’s all a blur. Bar a few well-used things, a large part of me cannot remember what is in there. I keep trying to picture my old room to recall what would have been packed away, but nothing stands out, except for my bright yellow Argentinean sun (that stayed with me through all my London years), The Lacuna (which apart from the customary open-the-book-and-give-it-a-sniff routine is yet to be read), the 3 beads from Portobello (why 3?), the red carnation worn at Manmeet’s wedding (ironically flown in from Malaysia), the Amalfi teardrop ring(purchased solely for reminding me of boats and the sea), and (how could I possibly forget!) my IFRS bible, complete with multi-coloured tabs for quick access to all my favourite standards (I am currently torn between IAS 16 and IAS 18).

These boxes may just be piles of cardboard to you. But to me, they are a reminder of a wonderful life lived in the past, an opportunity to ramble about them in the present, and exciting days of colour-coding and alphabetising (and maybe some root-growing?) in the future.

Right, better get unpacking then. Chop, chop, all hands on deck, look lively now, etc etc.