I always thought my Dad and I, referred together as 'the males', were the cold rational beings of the family. We have shown some odd signs of attachment over the years. Like the way I clung to my archaic CHIP/DiGiT magazine issues for half a decade before they were dumped. Or the way my dad was seriously considering getting our old Fiat car over to Delhi in 1998 (You can read about the horrendous Fiat tales here). Ignoring these aberrations, I did believe we could let go when it mattered.
On the first day of my trip back home, my sister and I were given a comprehensive task of clearing clutter from the house. The treasure was displayed on the table after a day of work. My father spotted something checkered amidst the clutter. He fished it out bewildered.
'Hey. This is our beautiful magnetic chess set! Why are we throwing this out?'
We thought it would have been evident to him that he was holding just one half of the board.
'But it is so beautiful.'
'It's half a board! What are you going to play with it?'
He dug into the plastic bag of household junk. Eventually, his hand emerged victorious with the other half of the miniature chess board. He aligned them together seemingly like a singular piece of the game board.
Mom yelled from the kitchen, 'But we already have two other chess sets.'
Let us pause for a second. Why does my family have three chess sets? When my Dad was posted in the east, we made lots of trips to-and-from Delhi. And on the train would appear 'chinese' goods salesmen with weird contraptions. And we ended up owning a lot of that stuff, including:
1. Reeking chinese balms for headaches
2. Torchlights and Emergency Lamps
3. Really tasteless rock-hard Chewing Gums
5. Sound making guns - makes excellent gifts for whining cousins.
Ok, back to the incident.
'But why do we need this tiny board? Even the pieces are so small!'
'Look Arvind! It's magnetic. We can have games on the train.'
He proudly displayed effects of the north-south polarized magnets. The pieces clung to the black-white surface, desperate not to get relegated to the dump.
'But it's not even a complete set Daddy! Let's just throw it out.'
He meticulously picked out a few more rooks and knights from the junk bag. 'Look! All of them are in this bag....Or at least they should be.'
'No Dad. Let go. It's time to throw it away.'
The discussion was interrupted soon and the chessboard just lay there inert for the next three days. If the past is any indicator, my Dad won't think about it again without the aid of a random prompt.
We males aren't the cold decision makers in the house, it's the women. This morning I spotted a checkered board in the dustbin. Dad may have pieced together the board, but it's my Mom who made the last move.
p.s - Dad, if you end up reading this, we do have another two chess sets.