is tough! Even for something as prosaic as sorting out old clothes to give to charity, there are always things that you think you might still want to use, even if you haven't used them in the past few years.
I do know that these last three years in Kolkata have seen several additions to my linen cupboard. After living miles away from the city in our previous location, sheer accessibility has made me more indulgent than I was previously. I also do give stuff to my maid when her house inevitably floods each year. Somehow, I find it easier to give things to a person whom I do know than to a cause that is somewhat removed. Some unknown person will wear that saree or that kurta, or will tear it up to make swaddling clothes- it often seems abstract, apart from my reality. But as long as the things are used, it shouldn't matter at all to me who uses them. Before I finally do give things away, I do make sure that I'm not being impulsive in my selection. What annoys me about myself is my lingering over sheets that I'd only use to prove a point, not that they are needed in my house at all. And surely charity means giving things away that are usable, in good condition, but which are no longer so new that giving them away would seem foolish rather than generous.
If I were to die tomorrow, none of these things would matter to me at all. This house full of clothes, books, music, glassware and crockery, all my colour coordinated cushion covers, bed covers and dhurries, none of them would matter to me. I was the person who would count the good spoons after each dinner party, and be most distressed if a single one went missing. I think I've come a long way from there, but there's still a long road ahead. How does one live in this material world carefully and yet with detachment?
These lines resonate with me when I get stuck between wanting to give things away and wanting to hang onto them:
"Aagaah apni maut sey koi bashar nahin... Saamaaan sau baras ka...pal ki khabar nahin."
No one knows when he will die,
He accumulates the stuff of a century,
not knowing of the next moment.