The day I climbed the wall

The L&M and the brats had just left for office and school respectively. There was calm after the storm and I was preparing to close the front door. Just then my neighbour walked in.

“Hi, come in!” I called out cheerfully.

She looked around wondering where the voice was coming from and………screamed. I can see you impatiently asking, why.  Well, wouldn’t you scream if you had seen a woman walking upside down on the ceiling?

I nimbly walked down to greet her, but by the time I  touched the floor, she had disappeared. I sighed, closed the door and began climbing up the wall again.

I don’t know exactly how or when it had happened. Perhaps it was the day I couldn’t find a place to put even one foot on the floor.  Ah, yes! Now, I remember.

It had all started the day I threw my kitchen towel on the sofa as I hurried out to get some onions. I didn’t notice that the towel had missed the sofa and fallen beside it on the floor. I returned a little while later, and got busy with my cooking. I used a fresh towel since I couldn’t find the one I had taken out in the morning and which now was lying near the sofa, in case you forgot. That simple lapse had been my undoing, alas! Let me tell you how.

By evening, there was a small mound near the sofa — the discarded uniforms of the two brats, the soiled handkerchief and socks of the L&M and and sundry other things. I absentmindedly picked them up and tossed them into the washing machine, retrieving the kitchen towel from under the mound, scarcely giving the whole thing a second thought, the fool that I was! Little did I know that it was the beginning of the end — of my clean home, that is.

Thereafter the mound kept appearing at all odd and unlikely places. One day it was on the sofa, the next day it appeared on the bed; another day it even sat on the dining table. Soon other things joined the contents of the ubiquitous mound. School books, office papers, letters and bills. Almost all appliances in the house held small/big piles of assorted items that teetered precariously on them.

The television set resembled a badly constructed church steeple, ready to keel over, with all sorts of things piled on it. Sometimes we had to peer at the screen through a dirty T shirt or hand towel that hung over it. What? Why can’t we remove it? Ha, ha. The brats would pretend not to notice anything amiss and the L&M would act as if it was the most natural thing to watch TV through the obstruction. Me? I don’t watch TV, remember? (The Idiots and the box) The telephone table groaned under the weight of an assortment of magazines and books and one could locate the instrument only by its muffled ring.

Coming back to my story, I tried to clear the clutter as it appeared at different places, but soon realised that it was a losing battle. It was a race against sloppiness for me. After sending the messy trio out of the house that looked like a war zone in the morning, I picked up and picked up and picked up some more — of the clutter they had left behind. Arms aching and back breaking with all the bending, I soon started cheating. I only cleared spaces that were absolutely at a premium and let the rest be.  I figured that I had to join them since I couldn’t beat them.

Dinner times were tense: we had to hold our glasses of water— we would never have been able to find them again had we put them down by mistake. As it was, we had to actively search for the various dishes — the bowl of dal, the roti casserole and the kadai with the subzi among the clutter. We are masters at it of course (Hide and seek) Tempers would be frayed understandably as we would all be sitting on various sharp/blunt objectson the chairs and be poked if we moved even a little.

There was no point clearing the table after breakfast/lunch/dinner. The dishes were washed of course, but no more. Ditto for the beds. The trio argued that it was a waste of time to make the beds when they had to be slept in again, anyway. So they devised the ingenious method of making beds — dump everything on the floor at night and throw things on the bed during the day. Simple, see? Who needed to fold clothes? There was a spare bed for the washed clothes. Everyone rummaged through the pile and pulled out their stuff. A simple rule for washing was followed: when the pile had shrunk to insignificant proportions, it was wash day!

The space on my kitchen platform began shrinking at an alarming pace too but I learnt to cook in the tiny space that was still available. The sitting area became just that — sitting area. One had to sit ramrod stiff on the sofa for the back rest held loads of discarded clothes and one could stretch one’s foot only if one was prepared for it to land in a half-eaten plate of omelette or knock over a glass of water or a cup of half-drunk tea.

When we had someone visiting, an alert went up: ‘Guests!’ The L&M or I kept them engaged in conversation in a slightly hysterical sounding voice in the living room while the other rooms got cleared by the brats! They specialized in this. The older one got the clutter cleared by pushing them out of sight and the younger one did a ‘cover-up’ job.

And who cleaned the living room? You see, we lived two flights up and by the time the guests reached the door, we would have it in apple pie order. When the guests were finally released by the hysterical host, they found a home right out of Good Housekeeping!

All we had to remember was not to seat the guests on the neat looking bed for fear of some sharp object poking them from under the bright sheet; and not even DREAM of opening any cupboard lest all the contents stuffed into them came tumbling out.

For all my trying to become one of the clutter bugs, living with three of them was a nerve wracking experience. My yelling only made matters worse. The three began getting even more slovenly if that were possible. Then they began ignoring me altogether. My arm ached from all that picking up and my feet were tired from searching for clear space on the floor to put them down. In desperation, I took to even walking with a broom like the Jain munis, trying to clear a path for myself amidst the clutter. I had to give it up after I broke two brooms — the clutter had become so deep and heavy.

Then one day, I threw up my arms in despair and looked up at the heavens. And I saw light. It was no less a light than what Buddha had seen under the Bodhi tree. For before my eyes lay a vast expanse of clear, white space — the ceiling! It was so inviting that I climbed the wall. And I have stayed there ever since. Oh bliss! The only thing I have to worry about now is to keep the trio from coming up here.

(Firs published in The Times of India on Nov 2, 1996)

27 comments

  1. […] Initially I kept straightening the room as best as I could without touching his papers and letters but soon gave up. And then I went away for a couple of weeks  and when I returned home, I nearly passed out of shock. There was no living room! I mean it. It had simply vanished! There was no sofa, no dining table and no floor! It was a nightmare playing out all over again as the time when I had been forced up the wall. […]

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  2. Hahaha! This is a very funny post 😀

    Of course I had read this post long ago and now when I saw it again, just rummaged through it. Hence missed the bit.

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    1. Fortunately they both have outgrown this habit of cleaning. Psst…I have started doing it now 😀

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  3. That was clever and imaginative. Loved it 🙂

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    1. Thank you AN. Glad you liked it!

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  4. Read this and had a hearty laugh. I like your style 😀

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    1. Thank you for the nice comment Chinkurli. Keep laughing and come again!

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  5. Heehee… Hilarious !! Picking up after the one’s brats and of course the L&M …a never ending exercise, that has been left (in most cases) to our lot ! You sure have devised an ingenious way to escape it girl ! Hats off !
    So enjoy reading your ‘L&M and the brats’ series….

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    1. So glad to see you back Chits. Thanks for the comment too.

      The thing is the male of the species think it is an unnecessary and unproductive exercise to pick up. Why bother when you will need it again?

      I haven’t heard from your brat btw.

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  6. 😀 you and I have so much in common to share . when I read these posts I feel as if I am reliving some part of my life. Two boys ..brats.. I tell you. wonder whatVineet will say to all these revealing posts lol. Glad to see you on indiblogger. will add you.
    awesome read. loved it.

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    1. Thank you Tikuli! The idea of the series is to connect with all of the people out there, who have definitely had similar experiences, whatever category they fall in — L&M, poor me or the brats. As for Vinni, well, I get ideas and encouragement from my loving family all the time. Extrapolating facts I call it!

      I hope you don’t mind my just grabbing the award and not tagging anyone. As I have explained to others, I would like to first start getting as many comments as you do and then I will start tagging in earnest, promise!

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  7. Oh yes..a very very familiar feeling and description 🙂
    Excuse me while i too go and climb the walls 🙂 (yeah–great idea that!)
    But since mine are only 8 and 12, probably one little cry of “mummy” will have me jumping right down to see what they needed 🙂 Old habits die hard 🙂

    Thank you for visiting my blog and thank you for your comment too.

    Cheers
    Preeti

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    1. Thank you for coming here and commenting, Preeti. Old habits die hard indeed, make no mistake. Even when they have have grown up and all, you still will jump down or up as the case may be, to find out what they needed if they called you! 🙂

      Visit again!

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  8. Shilpa · · Reply

    Mami, I have just started picking up things! ..Starts with picking HRH’s clothes after he showers and ends with clearing the putting away Bulbul’s toys in the night. Whole life of picking and piling to follow. Sigh!

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    1. Hey Shilps, welcome to the club! I like the title you have given your L&M too! don’t give up so easily. Bulbul is still a baby. You have hope yet! mail me some snaps of her, won’t you?

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  9. How I remember the times when I was organized – Ram can attest to that…

    It went to the extent that my roommates labelled me ‘Control Freak’, a nick I was ok with – since I was.

    Who cares, anyways? Real estate is at a premium – the latest price was, I gather, nearly 37.5 lac per square foot. Why keep it unused? Utilize it in the best way you can.

    Regards,
    Grondmaster

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    1. Thanks for the response Grond. 37.5 lac per sq foot?? where, Manhattan, Tokyo???
      You are right. why waste precious space?

      Btw, you sound nostalgic about the times you were organised. does that mean what I think it means? if yes, welcome to the club!

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      1. Siddharth · · Reply

        Ma’am the 37.5 l p sft that grond talks about was in “Aamchi Mumbai” (Our Mumbai in marathi ;))

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      2. Its a question of scale. Standing next to a 4 foot high guy makes me taller, next to a 7 foot guy I’m shorter.

        All I can say is that benchmarks in Pune were set quite low across the board… Back in Mumbai, I’m second best – my mom beats me hands down in organizing the house.

        Apropos our previous conversation on anger management – some people wonder why I’m impervious to everyone’s shouts. That’s because I’ve grown up with Mom’s every morning shouting at us to organize our stuff… Which we have to, coz.. well, she’s the Home Minister…

        Regards,
        Grondmaster

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        1. 🙂 Moms are famous for exercising their vocal chords where children are concerned. But hasn’t some good come out ot it? your orderliness for instance.

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  10. ha ha ha… i seriously tot u wr abt to say that you are a secret spy and had those ultra cool gadgets to climb walls, my bad.. 😛 i did the summer cleaning yday.. sister cribbed about it, a whack in the head set her right.. the house is sparkling clean now 🙂

    and yesh!! i ll totally love your home, especially the spare bed with all the clothes.. *cozy heaven* 😎

    P.S : Sorry abt the name mess up.. working long hrs and thats seriously taking toll.. will clear the mess once i get done with today’s work…

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    1. Thanks Ratzzzzzzz. Glad you like our home. Didn’t I tell you so? House is sparkling clean, for how long may I ask? 🙂 Don’t bother about name. A rose is a rose is a rose, right?

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  11. That was fast Siddharth and thank you so much for the great feedback. I now believe you when you say that you are inseparable from your laptop, for no matter what time I post the L&M piece, I get your comment even before I leave the page! and what can be more encouraging for a blogger? Thanks pal.

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    1. Siddharth · · Reply

      I love reading your posts cos i can relate with them…. and I hate it when people visit my post and leave without commenting so I make it a point now to always comment on a post I have read. anyway, expect a new piece on brownian motion soon… though i don’t know if it would interest you… its on lions 🙂

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      1. Thank you for that Siddharth. I might borrow some of your own experiences in the L&M section, if I do publish a collection, with your permission of course. You have a nice turn of phrase too. Write more.I am interested in all kinds of things, but not sports. I used to be a big sports buff once, even wrote articles and all, but no more.

        I have been tutored by Vinni to always post a comment on other blogs I visit. And so i do too:)

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        1. Siddharth · · Reply

          sure ma’am! go right ahead and use my comments if you ever publish a collection looking at that I myself won’t ever be writing a book…. 🙂
          i am kinda a sports buff though I don’t follow cricket a lot…. Cronjegate killed cricket for me…. and the final nail in the coffin would probably be the retirement of Sachin… I write more about ManU (as obvious from my blog and from the seven random things post) since I love the team for their attitude…

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  12. Siddharth · · Reply

    hehe… hilarious read… resembles to a very large extent our hostel strategy… i loved the line “who needed to fold the clothes?” exactly what we would do…. throw all the clothes on the bed in the day and throw them all on the ground to sleep… or occasionally sleep yourself on the ground 😉 shirts were ironed one at a time in the laundry since there was only enough place to keep a clean shirt for the next day for if you did attempt to put more shirts in they would all join the heap (on the floor or the bed… or even both) even without being worn….

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