Saturday, January 20, 2007

Confessions of an inveterate collector

I love collecting things that can be collected, so much that I invent/discover perspectives to collecting things which were once thought of as lacking variety enough to be collectible - blank sheets of papers from various notebooks, for instance. I collect plans and brush off the option of implementing them lest I lose an element from my collection. Thus, I also collect failures. I love reading, and have more than 1800 short stories; I might have read about 100 of them. Isn't it exciting? The paradise that an unfulfilled present offers as a future? I have over 200 itineraries in my cupboard and I might have exhausted 2-5 of them. The coming days are bound to be filled with wonder and cherishable experience.
A collector has his eyes set for the future. I am not talking about stamp-collectors although they too expect a day to dawn when their rather quaint square of paper with a bridge painted in sepia becomes invaluable with the news that it was recently bombed and left behind no trace other than a gaping void of what was and a promise of what could be brought back in place so that most people could continue with their lives while a few others could romanticise it. I collect words (over a few thousands of them classified as "Words" and "Interesting Words") and intend to spend time with them on days when words alone make sense in a world which has turned understandably silent. May I share with you the joy of tasting words like bricolage, weltschmerz, Pecksniffian, rhadamanthine or - aaah - noblesse oblige? An hour with these words sashaying around in my head and dancing within my iris is all that I would need when the world and their wives chatter on silently.A collection of moments called life
A collector is in love with collecting and not necessarily the collected. What game is left to the hunter who has razed the forest of all quadrupeds and feathered chirps? No real hunter would do that. You always leave some... or release some into the wild to ensure an active tomorrow.
My life has been plagued with a few days when I haven't indulged in collecting. Books, notebooks, pens, disk space, bandwidth, music, relationships... yes, even relationships. It thrilled me beyond measure to acquaint myself with a huge percentage of the evening party, or the product team. Relationships and experiences are best collected and bunched together with the staples of gregariousness. I was and still am serious about each and every one of the persons I have met. Not only are the trivial details, whose recollection touches everyone, earnestly remembered, but even the habits, preferences and allergies which the affected consider serious enough to warrant a space in everyone's memory, although it hardly penetrates the smoke they roll out through the moisture of the well held nose. A collector has to be serious but just that much. People and their company are wonderful as collections, since they tend to mutate into other categories of collectibles like tennis partners, fellow idealists and - what is often best - lovers. People and relationships also tend to create memories - the best butter that held the slices of life together.
What I collect comes with the memory of the world that was, when I had prettily picked that flower for the bouquet of that day. What happened when I bought that book? The famished boy who sold me that pen. The rains which left me sandwiched between a girl of 50 and a woman of 15 under the sheets of the bus depot, and how I collected stories of her husband who hardly spent time with her except when he bought her glass bangles which surprisingly, at least to her, preceded his libidinous nights, which made her marriage so beautiful and, from the other, how she despised the thought of staying with another man. What was I collecting then - perhaps moments away from people I knew? Memories are a collector's pickle; never a meal in itself but the best accompaniment to any main course.
And today I lie in the midst of the several collections of collections that I have drawn over decades (decades: noun. more than one decade) on this earth and I feel that a collectors life is always complete. You have more to collect, but you have a lot collected. At any point of time, there is a collection unlike a pat on the back of an athlete - it will never replace the gold medal. There aren't trophies in collecting. There is never a greater collection (as it would force the collector to admit to a bleaker future) and never a tiny collection - there is only a collection and hence you have achieved what there is to achieve. Your life is complete. My life is complete. In the midst of 1800+ short stories, 100+ novels, dozens of anthologies of poems (and do read through this lovely thread about a collection of poets), several translations, sheafs of blank papers, some yellow and brittle, some ruled, some stained with carelessness or memories best forgotten, some glossy, some half written, some well covered with things gone meaningless, words, beautiful words - basically, words - songs, lyrics, names, friendship bands, promises made, promises broken, damaged floppies, voices from a past which is clearer than today's hours, telephone cables, green, yellow, ivory, band-aid, drawings, phone numbers, email addresses, scrap books, bookmark files, memories, smiles, ghosts, tears, smirks, plans, hopes, folly, visions, silence, you, me... in the midst of all this I realise that my life is complete, because I realise I am but a collector.


  1. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Sooooo nice. I like this post a lot, nice start for me today.

  2. Anonymous1:23 PM

    Hi! Eroteme !

    [May I share with you the joy of tasting words like bricolage, weltschmerz, Pecksniffian, rhadamanthine or - aaah -...]

    Anyone can easily guess that i have ultracrepidarianism...and being a lover of Italian cooking also tyrophillia.
    and before you think i am a blatteroon
    better post this comment :)

    are you into etymology also,btw?

    now this expresion [The paradise that an unfulfilled present offers as a future?]will be in my mind for sometime.
    more later...



  3. Dear Anon-S,
    Glad it started your day well... :-)

    Dear Anon-U,
    Yes, I love etymology too. Glad to have something from this post buzzing in your head! :-)

  4. Parvati3:32 PM

    Poor Eroteme! - how are two little hands (howmuchsoever greedy they may be) enough in order to hold during the teensy weensy span of a single lifetime, all the infinite treasures of this unbounded universe?

    Anyway, a very happy post! Enjoy....

  5. Dear Eroteme,
    No wonder your life is so complete. Such beauty in writing can only be found in someone who loves words. Your blogs give me a reason to better myself each day, not to give up after the gruelling hours at work, to still get up at the end of the day and get charged up by reading your wonderful sketch in words.
    Keep writing. Never ever stop.

  6. Dear P,
    Which is exactly the point. My hands aren't spacious enough to accommodate the world and its trinkets, but once it is full I am done. I don't need more because the measure of two-handsfull is the measure of my peace and happiness! :-) Glad you found this post happy...

    Dear M,
    Welcome back. If I were you, I would take the "life is complete" with a pinch of salt. There are these moments when one feels that and then we get stuck in a traffic jam and you think everything but that!! :-D I am glad that the posts inhere serve a purpose of goading you to revisit your writing. You are indeed very generous with compliments, dear Munmun. :-) I shall try my best to resist the urge (there really isn't any) to stop...

  7. dark angel10:00 AM

    hmmm... collector? with an IAS? nice post!

  8. Dear DA,
    What's an IAS? Glad you liked it... :-)