A man thing, or may be not

I’ve come to my native to spend a week of A Jr’s summer vacation with my father. Few days ago he got some minor brickwork done in the house like getting some windows closed and getting some door frames changed, as well as some major furniture rearrangement.

Due to this a lot of Mom’s ‘collected’ stuff lost it’s coveted position and was literally left lying on the floor because, try as he may, Dad simply didn’t know how and where to begin to put it. While our maid had a field day (or week) due to lesser work, he was eagerly waiting for me to land there and help him keep it properly in a way Mom would approve.

The scattered heap of clothes and books in my room never bothered me but when I couldn’t even see the colour of the floor tiles anymore and couldn’t find any place to keep our suitcases, I knew we had to sort the mess out with a vengeance. 

Most of it was easy for me to put away since I was Mom’s wing man when it came to doing this kind of work. Routine stuff like her saris (which she carefully selected and preserved over many years and which we still cannot bring ourselves to divide or give away), new bedsheets, jewellery etc. didn’t require a lot of effort, thankfully.

While on one side I marvelled at her liking to spend so much on things that largely went unused, on the other side I came across some of her priceless memories in the form of some letters that Dad wrote to her during their engagement period as well as the time she had gone home for delivering me. 

I had heard a lot about them from her and would have loved to get a whiff of the ‘purane zamane ka pyar’ wale confessions but the temptation to read them evaporated quickly as I didn’t want to invade their privacy. A doesn’t even send me an ‘I love you’ message and Dad wrote long letters when he missed Mom. How romantic!

I was playfully teasing him about it and begging him to teach his son-in-law a thing or two so I could hold on to something in his absence too. Dad didn’t utter a word, only managing a forced meek cursory smile somehow. 

When I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and came back within a minute, to my horror, there was a big mountain of roughly torn bits and pieces of those letters at his feet. Not only did he not feel like reading them but also, in his own words, wanted to ‘do away with memories that only hurt’. As simple as that!

There I was, not letting him throw away a birthday card I had given to my brother when we were in college for its keepsake value and then there was Dad, who had razed away a large chunk of his marriage memorablia in one clean swipe without the slightest hesitation. I was speechless.

It is possible that I’m not able to understand the hurt a partner’s long illness and sad demise can cause to the one left behind. He wrote the letters out of love and concern, didn’t he? Did he feel no attachment with them? I couldn’t help wondering whether Mom would do the same if, God forbid, the situation ever arose. 

I’m no one to judge Dad. It is the gender that confuses me at times. Do only women care more about preserving such memories? Can men really detach themselves so easily from things that mattered a lot to them at some point in their lives? Can they control their emotions? Can wiping out physical reminders erase the memories that were an integral part of them too? 

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32 thoughts on “A man thing, or may be not

  1. I don’t think it’s a man thing, varsh. 🙂 Your dad must be remembering your mum a lot. He will still be holding on to those memories in his heart, materialistic things might not matter much. Or it is even possible that he misses her when he sees all the things that connects to her. 🙂

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    1. Ofcourse he remembers her but I was rather surprised with his complete nonchalance with the letters. I doubt he even knew they existed. Without a second thought he got rid of them. True, may be they reminded them of her more.

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    1. That’s what Bikram. Why did he have to bottle it up and then just tear them off. I know I can’t understand his emotion too, but would spending a few moments with them and then destroying them do any more harm?

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      1. Well that would also make him remember all those beautiful days.. and now he is alone.. how will he cope..

        I am sure he remembers each word he write in those letters….

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  2. I think so too….I lugged around 1 Army trunk full of memorabilia of letters n cards n stuff from station to station…. For 12 years till one day before we shifted out to yet another station my husband lit a bonfire n burnt all of them… Like you I was speechless …. I still store/ hoard stuff… Now in digital format …. So yes I feel it’s a gender thing…
    Anyways sad about your Mum…

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    1. I’m quite similar to you. I have a lot of stuff hoarded and even when I fondly sit with it and go through it occassionally my husband simply rolls his eyes. These men just don’t get the sentiment it seems.
      Thanks Aruna…know what..you share my Mom’s name. ☺

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  3. Thank you for sharing a snapshot of an important moment in time for your family. I have to agree, women are more sentimental in most cases, and may reach that point of destroying something valuable to them but usually out of extreme anger. Men often destroy things out of hurt. Not sure if it’s true for all, but most, I’ve found. Really really enjoyed this piece. Thank you again.

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I was hoping someone would understand the sentiment behind a woman preserving such memories and the same things turned to nothingness, either by a man or woman. Women gain strength from holding on to it, while men feel it is like rubbing salt over a wound.
      Thanks for reading Novelist. ☺

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  4. well, all I can say that time and again it has been said that “Women are emotional”, but “men are no way less emotional than their female counterparts. The only difference is men hide it better……”
    HE might like you to believe HE’s as hard as iron, but don’t be fooled by your man’s tough exterior…. HE is just another human being, as you are….

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    1. I agree with you, Irfan. Men hide it better, but the question is why. It is alright to express and get over feelings, isn’t it?
      Oh, my Dad is very emotional. I know it. Although I must accept that he has dealt well with Mom’s loss better than we did. Anything that makes him happy is good…

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  5. Men rationalise emotions as “needless” things as most of them dont quite know hoe to express them out well! If this was my dad, he would do it too and would do it to get the sentimentalism out as well as make sure none of us reads them too! He wouldnt keep them safe, to be found after him. Better to get rid of them when he can- it would be just his way of dealing with it!
    So maybe all he was doing is self preservation!!
    Hugs for your loss – I cant even imagine what its like to lose one’s mom!!!

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    1. You gave a different perspective here. Destroying them so no one else ever lays hands on them is something I didn’t think of. Thanks for that! ☺
      Self-preservation…hmm. Way to retain the intimacy and enigma of their relation. Mom is gone and only he knows things between them. Hugs dear! Don’t imagine. Love and pamper your Mom and give her lots of happiness. God bless you both.

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  6. I can understand your feeling, Varsha, but may be he found it too painful to keep it as it brought to life a part of his life that will never be. But it us women who attach a lot of sentiments to little things like ‘ his first mail’ , ‘his first gift’ and stuff . My paternal grandmother never had a picture of her husband who she lost at a very young age. When I had asked her she said I don’t want to keep pictures of people who have left and gone off to the other realm. Well, dunno what to say about that but I do have a tiny growing pile of my son’s first dress, his first drawing, his first book and now my daughter’s adds on, but since the husband has nothing much to pile upon, thankfully he does not add to its growrh🙄😉

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