The War Of The Living Room

Do you have a living room in your house? What an idiotic question, you murmur? Let me explain.

So you have a comfortable sofa/couch with bright soft cushions, some great paintings on the wall, a corner table strewn with knick-knacks and artefacts, a colourful foot rug thrown casually, a low table with a couple of books and a lovely bookshelf with rows upon rows of books. You entertain your guests in this room and relax with a book on the sofa. But do you LIVE in it? No? Then you don’t have a LIVING room. So there!

Ask the L&M. He will tell you that the living room is meant to be lived in. He has been doing it for the past two decades, no less! That was when he quit his corporate job and decided to work as a consultant, operating from home. And that is when I began losing ground…er…the living room. I fought tooth and nail to hold on to it but it was a losing battle till I had to beat a hasty retreat to the inner rooms if I even wanted to sit down. You see, there was no vacant area on any of the surfaces – including the floor in the living room (LR).

It began innocuously enough as all such calamitous things begin. Since he had to work from home, the L&M needed a home ‘office’ and the living-cum-dining room was commandeered for the purpose. When it came to the actual acquisition, it included everything in the room, as happens in all acquisitions.

My idea of a living room

My idea of a living room

He had figured out everything –the room was large enough to accommodate a big computer table (remember the huge CPU, the bulky monitor, the printer, not to forget the UPS — that computers consisted of in those days?), the dining table could be used to sit and work at, the five seater sofa was a bonanza for someone who loved surfaces to store things instead of shelves. Then his eyes went to the showcase-cum-bookshelf that held artefacts from many countries he had travelled to and stacks of books.

‘No!’ I screamed. There was no way he was going to get that one!

He shrugged. I knew then that I had a battle on my hands.

It is thanks to him that I have been able to really understand all those words and terms from history books that I remember reading in school. In fact, it was a practical lesson this time round. Words like conquest, surrender, defeat, war, secession, ceding, victory,  coup, encroachment, territory, occupation, stealth warfare, etc. etc. have all been played out in real time in that kingdom/battlefield called the Living Room!

The L&M's idea of a living room!

The L&M’s idea of a living room!

Of all the words ‘cede’ kept popping into my head most frequently and unbidden and along with it the name of C P & Berar. Why? Perhaps because Berar was the most mentioned ceded territory in middle school history books of my time. From Mughal reign to British rule, Berar was ceded God knows how many times! Anyone who is interested in finding out can check the wiki link here.

After that small aside, let me come back to my own kingdom, which was in dire danger of being conquered.

He practically began ‘living’ in the room — his clothes strung over chairs, doors, sofa….his assorted footwear thrown casually around the room, the TV set placed strategically so that if he  even fractionally turned his head from the computer monitor he could watch a programme on the TV. I looked on apprehensively, and feared the worst.

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.

The scene has been played out in the many big and small LRs we have had in the numerous houses since. I tried all ruses, even pretending that that the bedroom was actually the living room, but no! He wanted the room in the front, please! I almost became bald pulling out fistful of hair over the years. The room had nothing – no art, no artifacts, no bookshelf – nothing except his clutter.

So when we moved back to Mumbai a few years ago, I thought I would make it fairly clear to the L&M that this time round I would brook no nonsense of the literal living room. For one, the living room was too small, just about the size of the bedroom and if he began ‘living’ in it, I would have to ‘leave.’  For another, his work had reduced a great deal. Big or small, I was not about to ‘cede’ it this time around. I gave him one of the bedrooms for his office and all his mess and told him to stay there. He eyed the TV in the living room longingly, but I was firm!

I drew up an agreement carefully, listing all the stuff that I knew from experience over the years that would sooner than later come into the living room. I added more and more items till it was longer than the finance bill with its clauses and sub clauses. He nodded most solemnly, promising to abide by the agreement to the letter.

For the first few weeks it was unbelievably clean and I had sore arms from pinching myself through the day. The L&M still ‘lived’ there sans his paraphernalia. I had gloated too soon, alas!

Years of battle had still not taught me anything at all. This time it was not encroachment but stealth warfare that I had to deal with. So first one homeo medicine bottle came out, hiding behind a cushion on the sofa. He must have seen me spy it, for he surreptitiously (or so he believed) extracted it and took it out of the room. Two days later a garden chair sat in front of the TV with the L&M resplendent on it.

‘I need a hard-backed chair for my back; it hurts on the sofa. Don’t worry, I will remove it when I switch off the TV!’ he hurriedly assured me. I rolled my eyes.

‘I want the chair out of here when I am awake, not asleep,’ I said sarcastically, for the damned TV was on all waking hours, even if he wasn’t watching anything! The sarcasm was completely lost on him as he was deep into one of the shouting matches on TV. Suffice to say that I hop-skipped-jumped my way around the chair through the day, giving him looks that would have scorched him had he been aware of anything outside the damn TV.

By now he had started violating sub clauses and some main clauses as well at alarming speed. For instance, the clause that stipulated that only that day’s paper should be out on the centre-table was the first casualty. So it was no surprise that the sub-clause ‘the paper should be neatly folded’ went for a toss too. The medicine bottles began appearing in the mornings and went back by mid-morning, but then soon began overstaying their welcome in the LR. I found his sneakers peeking from under the sofa one day. A couple of days later they stood defiantly in the open, near the table.

‘I will put them away, don’t worry. I was too tired,’ he replied to my protest, without taking his eye off the idiot box.

I knew then that I had lost another battle. The encroachment had begun to turn into occupation aided by some stealth warfare and might soon become a siege.

The latest update is that I have ceded yet another living room after another defeat in the latest battle in the War of the Living Rooms.

Damn C P and Berar!

Images Courtesy: Homepage: www.gettyimages.com

This page top: www.homedit.com Bottom: justpict.com

35 comments

  1. What a fun read! Though it is obvious that you have had your not-so-fun moments battling for and defending your territory 🙂 But the way you describe these battles and conquests is just so hilarious. By the way, has your L&M read this post? What was his reaction to it?

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    1. Oh, the L&M loves these stories and even gives me topics to write on sometimes! The boys used to do it too till they got busy with their lives. Psst….sometimes I add some masala…to these stories, but this is not one of them. I really, really don’t have a living room 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading your post was like watching a family movie! Water bottle, snack plates also will be here in the living room! Orange seeds will be on the centre table not inside the plate I keep for the purpose. Veettukku veedu vaasappadi! How are your sons’ habits? My son is a replica of his father! Husband is home all the time, so no time is there to clean the LR. Once son gets out of the house, I clean and it is back to normal from the next early morning when he comes home, reads and watches TV! The centre table is never on a straight line!

    Hmmm….but now, you might not enjoy a clean living room!

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    1. Do you have a centre table?? What is that? 😀 you talk of orange pips. I have to contend with chikoo seeds scattered all over the place 😦 But yes, you are right. So used I am to a cluttered LR that when he is out of town, I find it eerily clean and quiet, as the TV set remains switched off in his absence!

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  3. Your L&M reminds me of my Pa in law. Every time he visits us, our LR looks like it was hit by a hurricane while he snoozes calmly on the sofa, the TV on at full volume.

    SInce it’s a matter of only a few weeks, I surrender quietly and live happily ever after in my bedroom.

    P.S Am i glad I read this post!

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    1. Oh, I forgot about sleeping on the sofa, which means assorted pillows make their way to the LR too 😦 Don’t you think I deserve an award for putting up with it for 20 years???

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  4. Haha!!! You know what – my wife and I’ve had this discussion way too many times; right now, I’ve taken over the guest room and it sort of looks like that; the guest room was originally meant to be Rishi’s room (our 3yo son); Of course, during the initial period of my ‘work-from-home’ cycle, the Living room was certainly my space.

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    1. What is it about the living room that appeals to guys working from home, eh? But I am glad that you have settled in the guest room leaving the LR free for lounging, entertaining and relaxing. BTW, was it just ‘discussion’ between you and your wife or more like the battles we have? 😀

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  5. That’s why come here and live with me. Entire LR is yours and of course, you will have to fight the same battle though 😀 😀 . You should make the other bedroom your LR. Good idea, no? 😉 S is better that way, but no one can beat the kids. The plate with the cake rusk and the crumbles that go along with them are all over the brown sofa. You can find master art pieces by the future Art teacher on the island, dining table, coffee table, (over and under)….sigh the list never ends. Like Rachna said, S takes up the Maa Kaali Avatar on the weekends to get it straight. One day he spilled all the books into a huge pile. I asked the kids, what happened? Rushi was so casual about it, “Well you know, what nanna does when he is mad or wants to clean?” Each of us stomped over them for the next three days until I shoved them to a side for S to come and finish his cleaning up 😛

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    1. Thank you but no! Come all the way to US to only fight with not just one, but four of you?? Kids can be so matter-of-fact about things, can’t they? Like Rushi telling you about now Nana can be when he is in the cleaning mode. As for shoving things to one side, why couldn’t you have put them away? Or does he like doing it himself?

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  6. Hahaha! So, end of the day, that long list only served as a reminder of all the things that he could bring into the ‘living room’? 🙂

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    1. Come to think of it, it was not such a bright idea, was it? I guess I have dug myself in deeper with that list 😀

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  7. Your L&m series are मजेदार enjoyed reading this post,

    Like

    1. Thank you Suman! You have seen some of it, right?

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  8. Ha ha! That was fun to read. At my place, I am the one who owns the LR most of the times but the stuff there is all VT’s. I think it’s a skill they need to pick up – staying organized.

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    1. ‘Need to pick up’ is a utopian dream where the L&M is concerned. I only own the bedroom to which I retreat when I need some space to even just sit down!

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  9. Your L&M series are the best, Zephyr. How I missed reading about them these last couple of years. You know, from time to time, I would sneak into your blog and read an L&M post and go away feeling happy. Some I would read again and again. Yayy ! one more addded to the list of L&M posts. Thank you 🙂

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    1. You have made me so happy, Sudha 🙂 I know I have not written any new one for quite sometime. Actually I need to be sufficiently mad to pen one of these. So now you know 😀

      Like

  10. Beat About The Book · · Reply

    This was too close to the truth to be hilarious Zephyr. It is a raw nerve with me. My husband is away in another city for work but comes home most weekends. I have tried and tried again and yet again to get him to settle in one of the other rooms when he’s home but he J.U.S.T. won’t. And we’ll have his laptop wire strung out from one end of the room to the other, his phone plugged in, his papers all over the place and mugs of tea everywhere. Exactly how you described. He comes home today for a week and I’m yet again beautifying one of the inside rooms because hope, you know, springs eternal! !

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    1. I understand and commiserate, Tulika! But I am in worse straits, as I have had to put up with the encroachment for 20 years now! I turn all shades of red and purple when we have guests. Here’s wishing you all the best for this week when he should hopefully find the inside room irresistibly attractive. Yes, where would we be without hope?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. jaishvats · · Reply

    That was hilarious Zephyr…. I myself was not a very organized child in my early years
    …..now I am much better though and make conscious efforts in keeping everything neat and tidy…. For that aspect, I think hubby and I would be on the same rating 🙂

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    1. Great to know you both are similar in your thinking on matters of clutter! I am not a cleanliness freak myself, but the kind of clutter he has and that too in the living room is beyond me. What is more, he doesn’t even look on them as clutter, but as something that makes it convenient for him to access without moving much 🙂 Talk of saving energy 😀

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  12. Lata Sunil · · Reply

    hehhehe.. i am imagining how the LR will look like..

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    1. Didn’t you see the pic I have put up which gives you a fair idea? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This was howlarious! I was mentally visualizing the whole saga unfold. How you put up with it is amazing! Cedeing and conquest at its best. At my place it is the kids room that has no boundaries, encroachment that has no rules. Enjoyed this a lot 🙂

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    1. I don’t mind the inside rooms being full of clutter, but the front room? That is where he wants to live, so it is full of clutter. I sometimes live in denial, at other times scream my head off, try sarcasm, all to no avail. I guess I need to detach myself from all the chaos and chant Shanti! Shanti! like an ascetic 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. hehehe Hilarious! Thankfully, even when G worked out of home, he converted a part of the children’s bedroom into his home office. The relics from that era still live on. I like working on the laptop in the living room but have no other stuff lying around. And the diktats about non clutter in the living room are sometimes met with amusement and at other times with fear especially when i adopt the Maa Kali avatar. Between a husband and wife, there are some battles you never win. 😀 Enjoyed this thoroughly!

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    1. I guess I have more or less resigned to my fate, as you have rightly mentioned about not winning some battles with spouses. I can just imagine you in your Ma Kaali avatar 🙂

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  15. Home is a place where no two individuals like to do the things the same way:) Best of luck, Zephyr!

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    1. I need all the luck, Rahul! But I know I will be another Berar, ceding more space to the L&M even in the future 😦

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  16. Alas! Looks like you are outwitted!! Would it help if you start piling your stuff before he piles his?!! If you can’t beat them, join them, eh?!! 😀

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    1. You are so right! And I never learn 😦 Seriously though, living without a living room can be a pain, you know. I could scream sometimes with frustration. I have linked the post where I joined them, didn’t you read it? This is a recurring nightmare of a theme in my L&M posts 🙂

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      1. Lol!! Now I remember! You’re very patient! I can imagine the frustration of having no living room! So, what do people who visit do?

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        1. I try to clear space turning shades all the way from red to purple 🙂 Family and close friends go straight to the inside rooms 😀

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