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December 2, 2014
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June 1, 2016
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Candle Thrift

Published in INDIA Se Magazine | Monday, February 02, 2015

I ’m one of those people who saves candles for a rainy day!

You’ve obviously heard of saving money for a rainy day, and are wondering what use exactly, could candles be for a rainy day. Nevertheless that is precisely what I do, I have a lot of candles and never light them up.

No! The candles that I’m talking about are not those that you light up after a fervent hunt in the drawers on nights when the lights go out. The candle saving that I so lovingly do, is of those beauties that enhance various corners in my home and come in fabulous hues, scents and shapes.

Saving candles literally means not lighting them up but instead stockpiling them for God knows what! Why this trait exists is a question that needs to be perhaps delved deeper into. Nonetheless there are those people who have this rather extreme case of thriftiness so I’m more than certain that these candle savers are probably also perfume savers, chocolate savers or even shoe savers. At this juncture I am certain that what I’m saying must have struck a chord somewhere.

Let me educate you a bit, the perfume saver would be one who has a shelf full of exquisite perfumes collected over the years, that are used ever so sparingly and continue to adorn their dressers for decades. In the same vein, chocolate savers are those who do not eat those chocolates that they receive on special occasions and safe-keep them in the refrigerator only to send it all to the waste bin after the inevitable discovery of the long gone expiry date that went unseen as they sat frozen in time.

Shoes savers? Those are people who don’t want their footwear soles to be worn out and use them so prudently that their shoes could well have been mummified with their owners had the latter lived in the times of yore. I presume further categorising these savers would yield an interesting inventory such as soap savers, battery savers, china savers (nothing to do with the nation in the east but more to do with under utitlising porcelain dinner ware) medicine savers, savers of the unmentionables and the list could colourfully go on!

Psychologists call this hoarding and maintain that if left long untreated, it could lead to serious conditions with long unpronounceable names and even lengthier consequences. However I’m not going to stray into the academics of this and, instead, explain how I came to discuss my candle thriftiness.

The other day while I was cleaning my teenage son’s cupboard I discovered his old toy cars, trucks, board games and what not. You may wonder at my need to mention this, as in any case most teenage children have cupboards that resemble a war zone. But Wait! I’m not finished yet, what I further discovered to my chagrin was that he had even saved, horror of horrors, the boxes and packaging material of his old toys! “Why why why would you do this?” I reacted with theatrical flair to which his nonchalant answer teamed with a typical teenager shrug was “Mom! I keep them, as I might need them for something?” That’s when the truth struck me, my son is a hoarder!!! And my mind was suddenly supplemented by a recent memory, of a news item I’d read about a reclusive octogenarian who had to be rescued from his flat as he’d been swamped under debris and debris of unnecessary and wasteful stuff!

Having made this unsettling discovery I realised I needed to do something about it. Maybe ask my school psychologist friend, but soon other more pressing issues came to the fore and I promptly let myself wallow in procrastination.

It took one unexpected incident on an eventful evening for me to clearly interpret the laws of hoarding and also realise how right the learned psychologists were. One evening when I was alone at home, the electricity in my apartment due to a series of unfavourable juxtapositions in the wiring went bust and resulted in my house being blanketed in complete darkness. I went it to a tizzy of sorts trying to resolve the situation. However the darkness had me completely at its mercy and the immediate course of action needed was to get some form of light. The first thought was to use the ever-omnipresent hand phone and the light in it, unfortunately I remembered rather somberly that my phone had not been charged that day. Next, as a touch of panic began to slowly manifest in me the memory of the bright red torch that we used in our days back then presented itself. Alas! The unabating supply of electricity in this fastidious city that was home to me now had made our old torch redundant and it was long gone, I recalled gloomily. Hence what followed next was the obvious choice – candles. I started rummaging around in the pitch-black darkness for my candles. “Now where did I put them?” I thought, reminiscing about a distant vision of longish white candles wrapped in a faded bluish paper packaging. “Or wait, were these with me in my old place in Delhi?” I quizzed myself “or did I have ‘em here?” I couldn’t for the life of me remember as the darkness around me dragged on eerily.

As I pressed on further with my fruitless search my elbow encountered some paraphernalia and I heard things clattering loudly to the floor below. Amidst the chaos I realised that I had brought down my prized ornamental decoration, a wrought iron cupid figurine embellished with rows of scented candles. The comprehension that I’d made contact with candles almost illuminated the otherwise desolate room and a quick search of the altar resulted in the matchbox discovery.

As I struck the first match alight, I cringed realising instantaneously that once lit my precious, intricately shaped candles would not look the same again. They would melt over sending wax cascading down spoiling their beauteous shape and this realisation caused me to have a near meltdown.

The shocking discovery was made! I wasn’t ready to light my candles in spite of the fact that the time had come! I was crushed and as I looked at the poor dears in the dying flame of the matchstick, I knew I couldn’t do it. I could neither light these nor the umpteen others that were strategically placed in my living room.

I had stumbled upon an unwelcome truth and it stared at me hard in the face! I was a hoarder too, I realised regrettably and I had to do something about it. I had to stop saving up and put things to good use before they perished in vain or worse, before one of the unpronounceable psychological syndromes overcame me completely!

- By Sunita Lad Bhamray