Out of bounds


When we were kids, there were certain things and areas in our home that were out of bounds to us – our Dad’s bookshelf, his stationery cupboard and his files; our mom’s wardrobe and steel almirah, and our aunt’s knitting basket!

My Dad could sense if his files and papers had moved even an inch, and I don’t need to even talk about my mom’s antennae.

On rare occasions, we were given the privilege of peeking into my mom’s wardrobe or seeing my dad’s important papers and stationery.

These treats usually happened on long weekends or holidays, when my Dad would decide to clean his cupboard, or when my mom decided to clean hers.

We were allowed to watch and help as long as we were careful and didn’t behave irresponsibly.

We could barely contain our excitement, when we saw the creamy white paper or pens and lovely paper clips that our father had. My hands wanted to possess one of those notepads – to write (not sure what??).

If our Dad was happy with us, we would usually get something from his treasure trove. He would sometimes read out quotations from his notebook, or show us pencil sketches from his college days.

The things we collected thus were so precious, if only because our father had kept them so beautifully. We felt honoured to receive an old notepad or empty diary or a fountain pen.

When our mom opened her almirah, we would gaze in wonder at her beautiful silk sarees, neatly hanging in a line. There was the beautiful fragrance of sandalwood that gushed out of the wardrobe from the fragrance pouches she used.

Image courtesy – Dreamstime.com

Shiny sarees, the occasional sequinned saree, ornate jewelry boxes – we got glimpses of these as mom took out stuff, cleaned her cupboards and put them back in.

There was also a small, square, metal piggy bank that our mom had. It had the picture of a happy family on one side, and for the longest time I thought that it was ‘our family picture’. The piggy bank had a complicated locking mechanism, and we watched our mom pick out the key from a bunch of other important-looking keys to unlock the piggy bank.

When the cleaning was done, we usually went back to play or to study; knowing that those areas were out of bounds to us again….till the next time.

Are you a collector?


I happened to read an article about a philatelist, who had bought a rare stamp for a whopping amount, to add to his collection.

I don’t remember the amount, but I do remember that my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets!!!

This got me thinking. Why did that philatelist pay so much for that stamp?

I pondered about this for a few days and then realized that it was not about the money as much as it was about the ‘why he collected’.

Then it struck me that we are all collectors. Most people I know collect something. I know friends who collect refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, handbags, watches, and many more.

In my own family, my Dad collected pens. He bought every pen with love and joy. He had many different ones.
After his death, I sobbed my heart out when I saw his collection of pens – because it was one of those important things that defined who he was – it was easy to pick out a gift for him. He was very happy when he received pens as gifts.

My uncle collects shoes – sports shoes, formal shoes, boots, slip-ons; and he cares for each one of them like his own babies.

I know a friend, who doesn’t throw away old perfume bottles.

As for me, I love empty notebooks. I can’t seem to have enough of them with me. I have a whole drawer filled with different types of notebooks. Some made of handmade paper, some with pure creamy pages, some odd-sized and odd-shaped…I can never have enough. Visiting stationery shops is in my list of top 10 things to do!

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    Picture courtesy – http://www.inhabitat.com

So, back to the question. Why do most people collect something, and keep adding to their collection?

I asked myself this. After deep thought I realized that, to me, each time I open a new notebook to the first empty page, I feel hope and the thrill of writing. I want to fill these notebooks with writing – not necessarily fiction or stories, but even mundane things like ‘things to do’, ‘shopping lists’, ‘song lyrics’ and of course the book that I eventually want to write. These small notebooks fill me with joy.

I have seen the same joy in my Dad’s eyes when he searched for new pens to add to his collection. I see it in my son’s eyes when he collects fact books on animals.

The things we collect give us great happiness, from stamps to bookmarks to magnets to plants to coffee mugs to shoes to very expensive pieces of art, they give us repeated pleasure and happiness. To some extent, they define who we are! It is not about the money at all.

So, what do you collect and what does it mean to you? Would love to know.