Eternal wrangles

“Don’t criticise my choices, Loretta, you were one of them,” Leroy of the Lockhorns, with “infinite impatience,” reminds his wife Loretta. So does my husband. His choices are by and large bizarre I think, especially when he selects and brings home sarees for me, curtains for the apartment, or stuff from the swanky mall just for the heck of it without any real intent or purpose for the purchase — glassware, chinaware, spoon sets, et al. When I vent my ire on the matter, his reply is that they looked so beautiful that they had to be bought. To mollify me, he quotes King Lear: “Oh reason not the need.”

The upshot is clutter. I detest clutter. My husband is the king of clutter. Brought up on the puritanical philosophy of minimalism in a large household where enough was more, I was fed ideas that all excess is sin. Coming from a liberal household, my husband had access to more things and never had to live by the rule book. On the contrary, being the younger son, he was allowed to break rules with impunity and never appreciated my frugality or sense of restraint. A surfeit of things never troubled his conscience.

So, I find closets and almirahs overflowing, clothes all over the bed, books and papers on the sofa and it is for me to pick up after him. It simply beats him why it is so wrong to leave things lying around as ultimately they would find their way back to their place. For me, clearing up is instantaneous, everything or anything not in its place should be restored to its rightful domain. I argue that clutter-free spaces and open perspectives, are easier to breathe in, promote creativity and give an impression of elegance.

His take on this is that there is a method in his clutter, a “delight in disorder,” and even Picasso glorified clutter. Besides, in all this clutter he knows exactly what is where and if things are tucked away in corners, finding them would be a colossal waste of time. My husband likes to test his culinary talents and as can be imagined the kitchen is a royal mess with oil stains, salt spills, containers minus their lids etc. To set everything right takes the best part of the day and my quota of patience.

It is during such exasperating moments, that he tells me I should curb my critical tendencies and move on. So life between us is an eternal wrangle and I persuade myself to believe, for want of better consolation, in the manner of John Maynard Keynes, that in the long run nothing really matters. Armed with this piece of wisdom, I make my peace with clutter and my husband!

In the long run though, nothing truly matters. In the aftermath of losing my husband, a little after this piece was orginally written, I felt I could welcome all the clutter in the world if only I could have him back!
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