Storage Issues

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

One of the nagging thoughts that haunted me for weeks after my grandfather died was the immediacy of separation between him and the material objects. Of course, it's a tale as old as time; material objects as we are constantly reminded, don't accompany us in our afterlives and yet we make all our lives around them. 

By material objects here and the separation, I mean day-to-day items and the memories or associations we have with each of those. I found myself thinking about the most benign things, from how he held my hand when I last met him and the nail paint I wore, and for weeks following, I couldn't remove that off because that carried the last remains of his touch on my life. Even when he was hospitalized for weeks and we were all trying to make sense of our lives without him among us physically, I often wondered if this immediate material world we are surrounded within is the last of what we shared mutually. My mind wandered to the most basic items at home- plastic water bottles, cell phone devices, souvenirs, television, even the news, and the current affairs on the television; everything at home had his touch or remarks and yet, we were aware of how it was a matter of time before change sweeps over. 

A few weeks ago, I had to coerce my mother into changing the water bottles we use at home. I think, as far as I know, plastic bottles have a certain life and we've exhausted them out. It is not to say that she had to go out and buy new ones, just replace the new stock she had at home with the old ones in circulation for 3-4 years now. To my mind, it was a change in tide, an indicator of a new life we are all trying to make in the absence of my grandfather. The new bottles have not been used by him or seen by him. They don't carry the scratches or the bumps and the wear and tear that he was a part of when we all used them. In a way, it was an act of strengthening my heart, I am trying to move on with the people left, the cards dealt, and make the best of it. 

Surprisingly, it hurt me the most when I saw the old bottles were disposed of and donated despite initiating the much-needed order of change. These bottles had seen the hospital rooms far too many times. Who's to say the new ones won't but with these, there was a pre-pandemic life, pandemic life and the life that was taken away- all the transition lived through one. I've been working towards cutting people and things off but I found myself upset at the idea of retiring reusable plastic so clearly, I'm struggling within. 

If that's enough, I took the plunge towards a new phone. Unlike the water bottles, the phone has almost been an extension of my body (barring Covid), pretty much every living moment since 2018. It has travelled to countries, seen me hurt and seen me through many many things and trying times. It carries my life of a desk job, then another, then trying to make sense of the pandemic world, then finding myself hopelessly glued to begging for my grandfather's life via each telephonic update and finally, cutting contact from everyone when I thought it was it for me. I don't come from the school of thought where I replace a phone when the device is working fine and hasn't broken in smithereens and I did that, earlier this evening. 

I waited for my dad to be seated around, an excuse I told myself to delay the process. Truth be told, my old phone has given up and I can see it crashing every hour with heavy usage and yet, I needed someone to take the onus and say no. Maybe, I'm nervous cause the Mercury is in retrograde and they especially advise you to steer clear from new purchases but also maybe, I am nervous cause I don't want to let go of the device that initiated the last video call between my grandfather and me when he was conscious at the hospital or seen me cry to my friends when I realized the man who I loved did not love me back or even when I knew I'm losing my job but tried my best to keep a straight face with a dozen whiskeys. This phone has seen the most amount of growing up I had to do and it's not to say that the next one won't, but some objects live with you while you grow up and travel the world and remain your confidant through them all. This was it. 

Perhaps, there are few things as valuable as the device and the connection between the living and the dead. Somehow giving the most important part away doesn't sit right with me but life moves on. Re-sale value depreciates and you realize the world doesn't pause and mope with you. It's a lot to process and in other ways, it isn't much. 

Hindus have a process of immersing the remains of the cremated body into a flowing river. The details include heavy rituals and customs but the idea itself has appealed to me over the years. Of letting things go, and make the parting a symbolic process of bidding your byes and telling them you love them but it's time to move on. Perhaps, the dumb sale and returning my device is a bit like immersing the ashes in the holy river. It's time for us to let you go, whether we like it or not. 

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