The old mental baggage

Samarjit Kambam *

It is said that Old is Gold. Course, taking from a different perception, the attribute of an object or an entity that has become old is taken to be quite precious, some considered priceless. Likewise, human beings also get older with the passage of time and it is said that that life begins at forty.

Taken from a physical point of view, forty is the age where the individual’s physique had already bade farewell to the process of growth, the regeneration of cells taking place at a much slower rate. It is the age where a person’s physical appearance starts to show signs of ageing, of wear and tear such as appearance of grey hair, coarse skin, young wrinkles and lessened strength.

However, by the age of forty, the person has accumulated sufficient knowledge, wisdom and reasoning with characters such as increased maturity, more logical thinking, more responsibility, more tolerance and compassion, controlled temperament, more balanced and the likes. In fact the person becomes mellow. It’s the time when an individual sows the seeds of his deed. In fact, its harvesting time for a human being. Such may be the factors that lead people to say that life begins at forty.

There are natural substances such as gold, diamond, platinum, petroleum products etc where their value increases with each passing day. Likewise, there are man-made entities such as the Mona Lisa portrait at Pierre de Louvre Museum in Paris which is a priceless creation of the genius Leonadorda Vinci and its value keeps on appreciating with each passing day. But there are a host of man-made objects where their value depreciates with time. Mention may be made of vehicles, household items and appliances, equipments of all kinds, machineries, clothings and a multitude of others.

It is a typical as well as common nature for most of us humans to keep used objects or equipments that have outlived its lives with the objective for future use, even though they don’t serve any purpose with the notion that they may become handy one day or the other. Some use to store them with utmost care. The irony is that the objects be it man made or natural gets bland, tarnished, rusted and ugly and find no place for use as time passes by. In fact, they become craps. Still, people use to store such objects with the hope that they may become useful one day.

People use to store electrical wires, nuts and bolts, used spare parts of vehicles, non-functional electronic items, purses that have outlived their lives, empty plastic bottles and cans of soft drinks and most commonly non functional head-sets, mobiles, pen drives, disk drives, motherboards, empty liquor paper packs which looks quite chic with some even storing empty packs of cigarettes.

Such items which are stored occupy extra space in the room or the cellar. They remain stored and further stored but their usage or utility do not sprout up. After storing for years, they are thrown away or set ablaze while some fortunate items end up in pawn shops.

Me too have a collection of ‘Heaven knows what’ items ranging from carbon papers which never find a place for use in this digital world, non functional hard disk drives, dongles, empty cartridges of deskjet printers, worn out chains and cranks of bikes, torn clutch wires, rusted frames of bicycles, broken mudguards of bikes, crank shafts of motor cars and the likes.

Of all the God-forsaken things, two items are being stored with utmost care. They are nothing but a pair of replaced rear hydraulic pumps of a bike just because they just happen to look quite dainty and sturdy.

But with time, they become more and more useless and insipid. Just like excess baggages, they are taking up space without ever seeing the light of the day. Sometimes I wonder why I had kept those items after all. It is said that old items usually find their places in museums with the owner receiving a hefty bounty. Some years back, there was a mad rush for old 100 rupee notes valued at around Rs. 30,000 to 50,000.

I don’t know how far that was true. But such things usually turned out to be a hoax. There were demands galore for one rupee coins printed in the year of 1969, coins with imprints of Queen Elizabeth, coins with H.M.T. marked on it or maybe coins with imprints of Mahatma Gandhi carved without wearing his trademark and generic pair of spectacles. And they usually turned out to be a wild goose chase, like finding the foot of a rainbow.

My own mind reminds me of a phase where people were talking of old half-lantern called Petromax made of brass. There was a rush for petromax with imprints of ‘East India Company’ on it, made during the British Raj. I hadn’t the slightest idea how far it was true, but people were vying for the price upto 3 lac rupees if one stumbles upon a petromax with East India Company imprinted on it.

Then I remembered the enthusiastic day dream of one of my friends. Said that he had that ‘East India Company’ petromax at his own house which was used by his grandfather, forefather, whatsoever. And it was his vigorous hopes and renewed energy that kept me at my wits end. During that time, 3 lac rupees would be equivalent of around 5 lacs as of now.

He hadn’t the slightest idea to whom the petromax was to be handed over. But his mind was racing at a great speed like a meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere and had already rang the mental cash bell as well as though hitting the mental jackpot.

During those yonder days, we were wild, young and carefree and the bike ‘Karizma’ was the craze. While talking over tea at a hotel, he belted out that once he get hold of the cash of 3 lacs rupees, he would purchase a black-glassed helmet, most preferably a Ninja helmet, a pair of leather boots, and a pair of jeans.

He then continued that he would tear the new pair of jeans into various spots, change into it, put on the pair of leather boots and then proceed to Eastern Motors to purchase the Karizma, course carrying the helmet. After purchasing the bike, he further continued that he would drive to and fro at the vicinity of his locality with the black glassed helmet, torn pair of jeans and the pair of leather boots.

He maintained that he would drive the bike to and fro for umpteen times, incessantly and adamantly until he becomes a sore eye to the people of the locality. Lastly, when the people lost their tolerance and could not take any longer, he may be forced to stop on the track. What he told was that, by that situation which he wanted to create, he would then take out his helmet.

Seeing him, the locals would be taken by surprise which was the one thing he expected the most. Well, that one sided conversation, more like a fairly tale sans Alice was quite amusing and interesting. His was a story where he could not shake off his old mental baggage. After a few weeks, nothing could be heard about his East India Company petromax or his helmet, neither his Karizma bike nor his pair of torn jeans.

It remained a mystery whether the petromax could not be traced, had vanished or stolen by somebody else, whether he had purchased and driven the Karizma or the Karizma had driven him nuts. Even though his story was based more on fantasy and less on reality, his hopes and desires left a deep impact to me.

And such kind of developments that later turn out into a hoax happen mostly in Manipur where the people are harbingers of fresh thinking which inspires less creativity and more laziness.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 15 , 2017.

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