- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
The Holiday Saga Continues
- 21 Oct - 27 Oct, 2017
Not a very ordinary morning in the life of quite an ordinary couple. Faiza and Sohail face life’s challenges head-on. A mutual bond gelled well together by mutual discussion. Life is easier when you share and communicate. Or is it?
And thus began my difficult uphill job of cleaning the house; now don’t get me wrong, we were not slobs, but there were some quirky habits that needed fixing.
So while we were still on vacation (actually I was on vacation, he still had to go full-time to work), Sohail and I decided to clean up the house, like I already said. We really needed to get at it because we both realised that for years we had let the collectibles accumulate, as storage was overflowing and all possible spaces under the bed filled up to the rim; yes, the edge of the bed posts and more.
Now anyone would think that we were some kind of hoarders, and to a certain extent I think we were. However, if one knew us closely they would realise that I was not the sentimental type at all. I could throw things away at a whim. I never truly got attached to any material or personal object at any given point in my life. I, quite emphatically was not a hoarder.
Sohail on the other hand, still had his first grade report card. Now I am mentioning only one thing; to put it bluntly, our house was overflowing. There was no room for new things because we had no space.
I couldn’t even buy the things I really wanted or needed because of the shortage of physical space. Our pantry was even filling up now and I had to put my foot down – I just had to. I knew and fully realised that this decision might even affect my marriage. It would definitely put a dent. I would ask him to throw away prized possessions collected over a period of so many years.
For years I thought that maybe he is suffering from a disorder. Don’t worry I didn’t ask, of course. I’m not crazy. Newly wed and all that, but I really thought he might have a condition; I even looked it up. But all the signs and symptoms did not match. I think my husband was a cross between a hoarder and a collector, a person who likes to collect the finer things in life – in his case old memories attached to old things.
In fact, back then it seemed like a romantic notion. He always remembered everything. He had kept all the ‘little things that mattered’ as he put it; the balloons from my first birthday party, the pieces of our first broken plate. I mean who wouldn’t find that romantic? Right?
Fast forward many years later and think about it. It seems like he is a forensic expert and has all the evidence kept neatly in its proper place.
So I had to intervene and that too fast. If I didn’t, then very soon we would have to get another house because except for our physical being there was no more space for much about anything else. (I was always accused of exaggerating so don’t take me literally. But I hope you understand the enormity of the situation.)
Thus came that dreaded Sunday. I cooked a hearty breakfast and prayed that he wouldn’t back out. I was nice and cheerful. I knew which side my toast was buttered and I didn’t want this opportunity to pass us by.
I began to speak, first gently then persuasively. I made it clear that the pantry for a start was not a good place to store his stuff. I needed the pantry for food products and I couldn’t store all the stuff in the kitchen cabinets.
Hmm. It isn’t going too well I noticed. But I kept at it. I put out all my guns, all my ammunition. I had to fight for this. Our survival depended on it. I mean like the world is running out of clean air and water; what would happen when we would run out of food? We would die! I needed my pantry back! I just put it like that. That’s that.
He acquiesced and agreed to move the stuff into the bedroom.
What? What just happened? I didn’t ask for the stuff to be moved. I asked for the stuff to be thrown away!
Abort mission! Abort mission!
This was more serious than I thought.
Years ago when I had the chance, I should have made it clear that there is a place for unnecessary stuff and that place is the trash can. But I never realised that this situation would become so humongous when you are working on a marriage and catering to all angles and sides of it, it is a detail that does not take priority.
But when you swing your feet off the bed in the morning and instead of touching the ground it gets tangled in the strap of a rucksack, then you know you have a problem. If his feet got tangled then maybe he would know. I felt so confused.
I thought of therapy then a voice inside said, “This is Pakistan, Faiza. People do not get therapy for hoarding or collecting random stuff. End of discussion.”
Besides, I knew he wouldn’t be open to it anyway. Typical desi male. I’m not being mean. I am just frustrated.
Now I didn’t have a plan B, but I needed to be creative. Just moving things around was not the agenda. I needed to get rid of stuff.
“Oh my God, he is a hoarder.” A loud voice resonated in my ears. It was not a doubt now, it was a confirmed truth. Yes, a reality that I could not shy away from.
I had read about this in many places. I never thought it would happen to me. Why me? This was tragic. Now I not only have to love and live with a man who I really cared about (okay, I was crazy about him,) but I would have to live with all this stuff that he is not ready to part with.
“Google it!” my mind said. I could give it a try. I mean talk to him rationally. Woman to man. Now even that equation seems beset with pitfalls. A woman is never rational when she talks to a man. Especially with the man she is married to.
Plan B girl! Give me plan B! I had run out of ideas. I felt helpless.
I was sitting at the edge of the dining table sulking. My face contorted in intense pain. I could see myself getting really sick over this. I didn’t realise that Sohail had come and quietly sat next to me.
“If we throw things away, we throw away parts of us, our lives and our memories,” he said quietly.
“If we do not declutter, our lives will entangle into a huge colossal mess,” I pleaded in a whisper.
There was a long, strained silence. I could sense he was about to get up and walk away.
“New things need to replace the old to keep it fresh.” I only had a few logical arguments left in my weakened mental and physical state.
“Then what are you waiting for?”
Sigh. There was laughter in the air and the sun was shining beautifully through the Chantilly lace in the drawing room. •