At last count, there are two cameras, one VCR, one GPS, one music system, three mobile phones, two fixed line phones (one even with the primordial message recording facility with a cassette and a broken tape), and dozens of audio cassettes — all in excellent nick and ready to run a race. They all tumbled out of their hiding places recently, one after the other, when we did some spring cleaning in summer, and gave us that silly grin of a child who is caught behind a cupboard in a hide and seek game.

 There was enough stuff to open a garage sale, but a dingy basement parking can barely be dubbed a flea market. Further, the risk of getting our ‘antiques’ mixed with the old, broken furniture and other junk dumped by fellow residents was high, and we couldn’t let the valuables that we have been preserving for so long be trashed as if they were worthless scrap! After all, we had spent time and money on them and at some point of time, they were our coveted possessions.

 A majority of the above items have been through one round of auction and they have had no takers. Now, who would want a VCR when movie watching has moved to Ipads and smart phones? I remember how once, another old VCR of ours in India was paid for its weight by a scrap dealer. The GPS, except for the fact that it gets a bit perplexed with Dubai’s roads and has little clue about Sharjah, is a pricey thing that even has roadmaps of Europe and other GCC, but it remains unsold. People are probably taking their road and geographic sense a bit too seriously, and giving the GPS the place it truly deserves as a vain accessory. Yet I would hate to call it a white elephant in our closet.

 Then the cameras! Do they even make film rolls now? The Advantix, with its odd specifications was a dud that we discarded from day two, but the Kodak  has captured so many moments of our life, and with such unmatched clarity. How can something that has recorded the happy nuances of our life be dropped in the e-waste box so stoically? Just because it has no practical use now, and there are smarter things on the shelves, you can’t render it totally dispensable and worthless in spirit. Can you? We have started doing that to people now, but that’s a different story.

 It is easier to chuck things when they go out of order. But if there is even the slightest bleep in it, you would want to either keep it, or give it to someone who just might have a use. The latter is a hard species to find now, for no one takes mobile phones that can’t click pictures, play music or have apps, even for free. Not even a ten-year old. Analogue cameras are long shots too in that respect. Old things weren’t smart, you see. They were just useful, and had long life spans. Anything that overstays in this world will perhaps be condemned to disuse.

My father’s first car was a second hand Standard Herald with which he shared a love-hate relationship. It would develop respiratory problems, heave and then stop breathing at the signal, or frequently sulk on a dead battery, thus thwarting our weekend outings. Yet, when he sold it off fed up with its tantrums, our hearts broke. A few months later, we saw the car in an alley, dissected and torn into parts.

 Had my father kept the car, it probably would have been a vintage beauty now. Old and infirm, yet precious. Alas, there isn’t enough room in our lives to carry and store sentimental baggage from the past. Someday, we have to empty them all into the waste bin and be free from clutter for good.

Courtesy Khaleej Times.