Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Table

This morning as I was putting away things, I saw the table, with its round top, cleaved in between where the carpenter had wedged two planks of wood. I remember it being fixed when I was three years old. It was my height, about 1 and a half feet, and it had a small round wooden base to keep the day's newspapers in. I remember the carpenter saying that it was uneven, and asking for a piece of metal. So my  father went to the kitchen, and got an old Farex tin (from which the servant girl must have  mixed some milk  for me,  when I was younger) and the carpenter got a metal cutter and made an oval shape, which he hammered the tin into the table leg. That metal piece is still there. What is memory, but an odd and fleeting thing? I hadn't thought about that table for decades, though it's always been there, like the old sofa and two chairs we still use in our house as drawing room furniture. There is a cupboard too,  which is five feet, the height my father was. It's hardy, and it has a mirror that allows you to look into it, if you bend a bit. The cupboard was a gift to my parents when they got married from their closest friends in 1951, and the chairs were bought by them from a Sardar carpenter who had migrated to Delhi from Punjab. When I was small  I would sleep on the sofa, and if that was taken by my sister, I would join the two chairs and sleep on it.  I still sleep on the sofa some afternoons.  Obviously I dont fit but have to extend my legs, but I sleep soundly for the ten or fifteen minutes after lunch, which is so therapeutic to the writer. Partition furniture had its stereotype appearance: I have seen the same sofa set in my former colleague Amrit Srinivasan's house, and her parents were wealthy people, my parents were not. So there must have been quality wood work which was available on the streets as much as in the shops. I have seen the same cupboard in the second hand wooden shops in Lajpat Nagar. I was tempted to buy it, for no other reason then that it matched the cupboard at home, which was my father's, but I didn't because the less furniture there is the better. I get quite startled by the new furniture one sees around, but then, that's my middle class utilitarian background.

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