Saturday, May 10, 2008

Has this ever happened to you?

This is another one of Life's mysteries, but since I cannot sum it up in a single question, I'm not calling it what I called the other three posts (Things I've Never been Able To Understand). This seems to be one of Life's deeper, more complicated mysteries.
'The Mystery of the Missing Whatever-It-Is-That-You're-Looking-For............'
There are loads of things in an average person's home, which will reassure you of their presence and impinge upon your consciousness when you are not looking for them. But the minute you seriously need or want something, it apparently dematerialises, and reappears only when you've either torn out most of your hair, been yelled at by your significant other, or given up in utter frustration. This tendency to dematerialise is especially observed in books and documents, and sometimes Compact Discs. Usually the very CD you're dying to play for your friend. And if it's a book you want to lend your best friend, even though it may have occupied the same few square inches of your bookshelf for months on end, it will hide itself very successfully until the said friend is out of the door, probably doubting the sincerity of your intentions. Bah.
Being my brilliant self, I refuse to concede defeat to inanimate objects, however clever they may be. A friend of mine hadn't been well, and wanted a particular book from our favourite library. I trotted across to the library, and did what I thought was rational and logical- I asked the librarian to help me find it. We hunted high and low, and obviously, I suppose, couldn't find it. ( My own personal style when visiting the library is never to look for a specific book- I will randomly choose whatever appeals to me at the moment. I've read some wonderful books this way). Which wasn't a good feeling at all. I even tried to order the book online, but the sellers don't have a delivery system in our town. I was contemplating a visit to a book shop, but then I remembered that my friend had issued the book out of the library a couple of times, so that was the logical place to find it. But I did have to change my technique...........
The last time I had gone to the library, it was with a single goal in mind- to get The Book for my friend. This time I was much sneakier. I went, as it were, in disguise. I had four books to return, which I returned. I browsed through lots of shelves. I did not speak to anyone at all, let alone declare my intentions. Having picked up a few books for myself, I zenfully skimmed over the shelves. The Book, having been lulled into a false sense of security, was cunningly spotted, embraced joyfully, and triumphantly but silently issued out! It couldn't have vanished from my clutches, but I wasn't taking any chances, was I? Anyway, The Book has gone for a short sojourn at my friend's house, and I'm still feeling mighty pleased with myself!

Once upon a time there was a drawer in our dining room sideboard which was supposed to belong to the lord and master of the house. He was supposed to keep his papers in there. There being some foolish, indisciplined residents in the house as well, random bits of paper, old greeting cards, flyers etc. would infiltrate. The day the lord and master actually looked for something in the drawer was truly dreadful. The children would shiver in their shoes. The lady of the house would try and sink into the floor. Lots of random junk would land on the floor, and the atmosphere would be thick with tension. And he would not be able to find what he was looking for. We were young and foolish then- neither of us knew that the more urgent the document, the more impossible it is to find. The greater the angst, the less success. I would quietly ask what exactly it was that he was looking for, get him away from the scary drawer, and then usually manage to produce the required paper. Since we now have loads more documents, and the lord and master is only Sometimes Resident, I am the official archivist, though sadly I'm never as organised as I'd like to be. But the same rule seems to apply- the more zenful you are, the less likelihood of things dematerialising on you.
What do you say?


Unknown said...

I need to introduce you to my friend Murphy, who has a law named after him.


Lalita said...

I think there is a book idea for a self-help manual here, Dipali. Zen and the art of finding things. :)

Sukhaloka said...

Hahahaha, how true!

Loved Lalita's comment :)

Hip Grandma said...

the lord and master of your house was most cerainly my brother in an earlier birth.We must be sharing the same gene pool.I can also almost never find the thing I'm looking for till I turn the house upside down.
Happy Mother's day Dipali.

Anonymous said...

:-) Loved the way you wrote this one! Can I please learn to be zen at the ripe old age of 26?

The husband and I too have a nice act going - whenever he isn't able to find something, he'll turn the drawers upside down for a minute and then scream for me... it generally takes me a second to find that something which is usually sitting right below his nose!

But sometimes I can't find things too. A tv remote mysteriously disappeared from our home and just as mysteriously surfaced below the sofa cushions 2 months later! Fairytale-lover-me had a grand time thinking up cute lil fantasies about the sofa after that - something like Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree!

Anonymous said...

I suspect murphy too has something to do with this phenomenon

Space Bar said...

that's because you're a muggle (doesn't anyone here read harry potter?!)

you need to report this to the misuse of muggle artifacts department, ministry of magic; what's happened is some wizarding type has put a spell on said objects. it's not that they're lost; it's that they don't want to be found.

Usha said...

It is so comforting to know that this is not an odd situation only at our mad house. I have this very strange habit of putting things away in a "safe" place , so safe that even I cannot find it when I need it. Right now I am searching for one such which needs to materialise by 10 o clock or else all hell is going to break loose.
Let me go and meditae for a bit. :)

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

dear dipali,

you have hit the nail on the head.

i lost my driver's license. at home. have you heard of such a thing? a few months ago i had in-advertantly thrown out the computer speakers in a fit of clean-up, so i was sure i had thrown this innocuous looking, torn booklet from the early 90s, as well. i applied for a new license and all, declaring the old one permanently lost. and then the bally thing SHOWED up, hiding in a bag which I swear I had torn to shreds during my first search.

and oh! the thing about the Lord and Master! BANG ON! :-)

Mama - Mia said...


true true true! thats all i can say! tho i have attained such a zen that i can give up quite easily! ;)

that reminds me! filing to be done!! :(


Anonymous said...

I remember a riddle I read in childhood- "Why do you find everything in the last place you look?"

Ans: "Because after you find it, you stop looking".

Anonymous said...

@usha: Your "safe" place reminds me of my mother - she has the exact same habit and it's a running joke in our house :) If she has kept it in a "really" safe place, only the archaeologists can find it when they eventually come..

Nat said...

I keep the lord and masters papers too so no jhanjhat there. Of course it's too early on for us to have accumulated too many papers so I shudder to think of looking for needles in haystacks years down the line. i shud just make 3 copies of everything.

Itchingtowrite said...

oh yes happens ALL the time.
and only to me. the kids play with my & hubby's car keys- and guess whose get lost each time - mine

Neera said...

Hilarious :))) And bang on true!

Unknown said...

Not being able to find something is a man thing Dips .Surely you know that by now ?

the mad momma said...


dipali said...

@sundar: any laws dealing with the malevolence of supposedly harmless objects that refuse to be found whe needed?
@lali: You bet:)
@hipgrandma: I'm sure he was. When do you come to Kolkata next? Would love to meet you.
@devaki: TV remotes can be particularly nasty, especially if there's a nicely cushioned sofa around. Used to happen in our house too. Now all too often the remote reaches our bedroom as my dear husband seems to think that any object of a particular size and weight has to be his mobile phone!
@chandni: Murphy doesn't know when he's lucky. He hasn't tried hunting stuff in my house:)
@space bar: Of course I'm a muggle.
Please to report to the appropriate department for me!
@usha: I'm so glad to know that there are kindred spirits.
@kpbm: at least you have a brand new licence! The old one was so ashamed of its shabbiness that it simply disappeared for a while:)
@mama_mia: Keep up the good (filing) work!
@lekhni: but of course!
@nat: all three copies might collectively disappear:)
@itchy: I see some male bonding at work here!
@eve'slungs: not necessarily. One of these days I'll tell you how my younger daughter once managed to lose her admit card for her college exams, and where it was found.
@madmomma: done.

Rukku said...

I hope you don't mind my posting a comment after here (after so many years of you having written it), but this post resonated so well with me..I have a sneaking suspicion that some kind of ghost (like Casper, only I do not see him/her) lives with me, and tries to hide the very thing I am most interested in, at the moment. His/her sphere of influence is always confined to the kitchen and I find my gas lighter, rolling pins, peelers, graters mysteriously disappearing, and then being right in the middle of the kitchen platform after I have hemmed and hawed away, exasperatingly...These days I just call out loudly to the ghost and demand that the thing I am searching for be returned right away..My husband does give me an odd look, probably thinking 'if she is like this now, imagine what will happen when she is an old bat!'