Sunday, January 16, 2011

Clutter and Treasure

One man’s clutter is another man’s treasure. In my house, it’s all real clutter and not a hint of treasure. Up to my ears if I didn’t., occasionally, discard Mr. Hubby’s stuff on the sly. You see, it’s his things that make up the clutter.

No, no, please don’t click on the ‘Next Blog’ button! Give me a chance to explain and I bet you’ll agree with me before I've even finished my story.

As I was saying… in my house… sorry, let me re-phrase that… in Mr. Hubby’s house (as I’m only ‘menumpang’ … long story lah) other people have found a convenient dumping ground for expired goods such as obsolete computer monitors—those ancient monochrome monitors which used to occupy one whole desk; mattresses which have exceeded their life expectancies; 50-year-old shirts dripping with sentimental values… You get the picture.

I remember studying this poem for my Form Five where the ‘evil spirit’ had to be taken over the threshold because that was the only way evil could enter one’s dwelling. Well, the clutter in this house is the same. Someone would call and ask: Would you like to have this computer/mattress/rice-cooker etc? Now, if the caller is my blood relative, I’d say ‘No thanks’ and that’s the end of the story.

Unfortunately, it is always Mr. Hubby’s relatives. I know they only want to get rid of their old stuff. (You think people so good ah want to give you new things?) They’ve to make space for the new gadgets, that’s why. And to add insult to injury, Mr. Hubby has to drive over and bring the used goods to this house. That's why I mentioned the ‘evil spirit’ story. Like evil, clutter is carried over the threshold by the house-owner.

If that’s the only source of our clutter, life won’t be so bad. After all, it’s not every year people changed their mattresses or computers or throw away their clothes… well, maybe if they had been successful participants in ‘The Biggest Loser’. Then they’d give you their big clothes so you could turn them into bed-sheets. (You cut the fabric and join the pieces together, okay? Not trying to be funny here.)

When Mr. Hubby goes to the workshop to service or repair his car, he never fails to bring back ALL the stuff that had been removed from his car. I tear up my hair in frustration every time I see the heaps getting taller in the storeroom. We have beyond-repair tyres, worn out brake linings, brake shoes, faulty absorbers, broken side-view mirrors, spent batteries and numerous unidentifiable objects. At one time we had a whole engine from a car. I guess even that Arnold Swagger-what’s-his-name won’t be able to lift the monster without help from at least two other guys.

Then there’s clutter from the hospital. Mr. Hubby gets most of his medicine from the hospital, you see. For some reason, he never discards the remainder of half-taken antibiotics, cough mixtures, expired tablets, discoloured skin ointments and the like. So they keep adding to the impressive collection which also includes an array of empty boxes, packets and plastic bags.

Just to annoy him, I sometimes ask: Will this empty wrapper be refilled up with sweet/soap/biscuits if you kept it on the shelf/counter-top/in the fridge? Or, I’d pick up a used toothpick (yuck!) he has flicked under his chair and ask very nicely: Do you still want to use this? I could, of course, just quietly put it on his chair but what if it really poked him in the nether region?

Whenever I could, I’d throw some things with the trash—a few screws, pens which don’t write, underwear with holes. But I’ve to be careful because Mr. Hubby could, out of the blue, demand for ‘the nails which I kept here’. He’d give the impression he kept them ‘here’ the day before or the previous month. But wait, I go check in my journal and see I’ve written: Cleared storeroom, threw handful of nails placed on the monochrome monitor on 1 December 1990.

Of course I don’t tell him what I've recorded in my journal! It’s only for my benefit; an assurance that I’m neither going senile nor losing my memory. Just between you and me—my motto has always been: if the object hasn’t been missed for a year, toss it out…especially if it belongs to other people!

Pictures from Google Images


  1. Haha..Another compulsive hoarder huh Tina? I know how frustrating it is to have a house full of unwanted stuff. Maybe he should watch Hoarders kan..:)

  2. my mom is a hoarder. i'm not living with her, but it annoyed me all the same on the rare occassion i went home for holidays.

    but, to live with one? my respect hike one notch for you Tina.

  3. Hi you two! Thanks for stopping by.
    Yes, Lizee, I remember you writing about clutter some time ago. And I mentioned my problem with clutter. I dunno if watching Hoarders would have any impact on some die-hard hoarders. Maybe a visit to Bukit Padang will be more help!
    My mum was also a hoarder, Kukuanga.. now cannot sudah because she's bedridden. Lucky she wasn't into cars!
    Clutter really sucks the life out of its victims!

  4. OMG, story of my life. I am up to a point where I don't bother asking his permission to throw away his "treasures" anymore. If I see something of his sitting for 3 months or more, collecting dust, and I have no use for it, I'll bin it immediately. And still, stuff keeps pouring in!

  5. Haha.. you too, webgrrr? It's OK if the junk can turn into treasure. Otherwise the only sensible thing to do is throw it out.

  6. This post reminds me of my parents! Lol.

    I once said to my mum I wish I still had those journals I made for my ROS (Rancangan Orentasi Sekolah)8 years ago. She marched immediately to her store room and a few minutes later, came back and handed them to me. I was like, OMG Mama, how did you do that?

    I found out later, among those stuff they piled up in their store room, was a shoe box I stuffed with love letters from ex-boyfriends I never mentioned to anybody!

  7. Hey, your mum sounds like me! If I've kept something I usually know exactly where it is. Nowadays I may require several hours to check my mental files, though.
    Must have been quite gratifying to be suddenly re-united with your long-lost love letters!