Matchbox labels, his passion
He would have been one among the noted numismatists in the city today, had he not sold his collection of coins for a paltry sum of Rs.5,000, twenty years ago, to feed his two infant children.
Meet Ch. Guruji, 48, working as a private security guard at the sewage terminal in Visakhapatnam Port Trust.
Collection had been his passion since childhood and that kept him going even after he sold his collection of coins with a heavy heart. The glowing faces of his surviving children were the only consolation in the early days of despondency. The ever pressing demand of doing something different impelled him to think on the lines of building a collection that would not only cost him much but also would not fetch him anything if he again falls in such dire strait situation.
It was during those days of contemplation that he stumbled across a matchbox with a star label printed on it and that gave him an idea. Though in reality it emitted no light of knowledge, he decided to build a collection of safety matchbox labels. And that is what he has been doing religiously for the past 20 years.
Taking into consideration that all matchboxes in general look alike with the same printed label, he has collected over 1,600 labels so far, each distinctly varying from the other in shape, size and hue. It became such a passion that wherever he was located, be it on a train or a bus or while walking down the road, his gaze was always focussed on the ground below, scanning for that isolated piece of empty matchbox.
"My friends used to criticise me at times but my family always understood me and stood by my side. But nowadays, even I hesitate, as people think that I have gone crazy and as if I am looking for some coins on the road. My nine-year-old daughter helps me at such times by boldly picking up a thrown matchbox for her father's sake," he says proudly.
He has travelled through Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on different occasions but has never failed to pick up his prized collection.
His collection is educative at a glance. From historical monuments and places to cinema stars are printed on the labels that he carefully collected and pasted them on sheets of papers to give a collage look. But what hurts him is the depiction of nude and provocative pictures in some of the labels. He feels that such matchboxes might fall in the hands of a few young people and it might just tickle that adolescent curiosity which could land them in bigger problems.
He plans to send his collection to the Limca Book of Records and is waiting for the right time.
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