Trick of the trade

Trick of the trade

I belong to a family of hoarders — no, I’m not referring to the stash of “tainted” money or unpalatable “biscuits” of the golden variety, or gem studded thrones that are found in the houses of ministers.

I mean the stowing away of old items like read and to-be-read newspapers, class/college journals from bygone, old clothes fit for the Cleopatra era, broken handles from steel containers, unused metal drums that no longer can store water due to perforations, and many such things not of any collector’s interest.

Some of the things are kept for the right time of disposal or the right price that the item may fetch us. For example, I had planned to dispose of the giant water drum a few years ago but my plan was vetoed by the husband as he wanted to wait for the best price. While waiting, we did not seem to realise the years rolling by and recently, I was suddenly jolted by the unkempt look of the drum standing forlornly in the corner of the compound carrying some twisted tyres and old water pipes inside it. Just then I heard the raddiwallah’s voice, and on the spur of the moment called in the duo, attired in sombre black, to clean out the shed that housed such non-collectibles.

It was a veritable bonanza for them and they merrily started stacking item after item onto their cart. When I hesitantly asked them the sale price, one of them blatantly replied, “Saami, konege ondu rate maathadona” (We’ll finalise a rate later). I knew that each item had a price in the opinion of my husband. But he soon lost patience and went inside to catch up on his WhatsApp messages. The duo almost shouted in joy when they discovered an old steel water heater with the coil intact.

In fact, that had been preserved for disposal at the local metal shop which exchanges such items. But strangely enough, I forgot all about this and got carried away by the current cleaning spree. The duo piled their empty cart with all the items, the old newspapers as well as waste cartons that are used as packaging for large electrical appliances, all the time saying, “Lastige rate maadona” (We’ll fix the rate at last). I started losing count of the items by then.

When finally the cleanup was done, one of them — the smart one, I guessed — started denigrating the quality of each item — that is, the ones he chose to remember — and finally declared a paltry
amount for the entire lot. I tried to bargain but felt myself outwitted by the smart
chap. It was as if my mind had become numb refusing to convert each scrap into money figures. I called the husband for help, but he was lost in WhatsApp.

I suddenly remembered that in the US, where my daughter stays, residents have to pay the civic authorities for collection of such items from the doorstep, if done often. So I gave in, took the pittance and wished the duo a safe Sabarimala trip. When I saw them turn the cart back towards their home, their faces wreathed in smiles, I knew that their day’s earning had been won.