Why my wardrobe is almost empty

An empty closet with hanging racks

An empty closet with hanging racks  

My wardrobe is almost empty and this is a matter of great pride to me. It took me years to reach this position. When I was in school, my mother was constantly cleaning my room. There was never any point in hiding anything. For a while, I tried hiding things under the mattress, mainly copies of Debonair, which I purchased from a different store every time, to avoid looking like a pervert. They always gave it to me in a brown paper bag. My collection grew over the years. My mattress was lumpy but I didn’t mind.

Until one day, a friend of mine stayed the night, to watch football. He is now a senior executive in a reputed multinational and a pillar of society, but at the time he was horny and desperate. I was in the bathroom when he left in the morning, and I came out to find my father sitting on my bed, studying my Debonair collection. They were laid all over it, like an art gallery. When I later asked Arup why he had done this, he said, ‘They looked so nice that way.’

I clung to the hope that maybe my father had not opened any of them, but even the covers were problematic. It was a more innocent time, and most girlie mags pretended to be intellectual. They developed your brain while weakening your moral fibre. Debonair covers often featured ‘Dom Moraes on Nehru’ and interviews with Ashok Mitra, an angry communist, but they also featured stories such as ‘A brief history of the buttock’, ‘10 ways to increase pleasure’ and ‘The naughty girl next door’. I was not optimistic. I quietly slipped out through the side door and went off to college, where I spent my time lying under a tree in a more disturbed frame of mind than usual.

When I came back that evening, my collection was gone. It was a terrible blow, and it changed my thought process. Ever since, I have lost all interest in material possessions. Things come and go, I realised. All is illusion. I also got married, and it turns out that my wife, whom I love dearly, needs as much cupboard space as she can get. Marriage is a matter of adjustment, and over the years, I have tried to accommodate her by emptying my cupboards as much as possible.

What helped me was the realisation that clothes are unnecessary. They divert the intellect. Every morning, we spend time trying to figure out whether the green shirt goes with the brown pants, after which comes the question of socks. If your intellect is towering, it’s a waste of time. I wear only black T-shirts, because they’re cheap and they match my jeans. I was thinking of reducing it to only one, but hygiene became an issue, and my wife offered to divorce me.

I now have two pairs of jeans and eight black T-shirts. I wear the ones with no holes on special occasions. My entire wardrobe is one small pile. I can carry it with me if there’s a flood or an earthquake. Of course, I still have a drawer full of socks, handkerchiefs and underwear. Handkerchiefs are an excellent invention. No gentleman should be without one. I’m in two minds about the socks and underwear. Will I be able to give them up? Only time will tell.

In Shovon Chowdhury’s most recent novel, Murder with Bengali Characteristics, the descriptions of clothing are sketchy.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 12:07:40 AM |

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