A Table

From my childhood to the point I actually left home and rented my own place – we’ve moved through six homes. Well, we’re in the sixth one now. My parents are, that is. Over the years, some pieces of furniture have been discarded. They no longer fit, and the presence of two hyperactive children and assorted dogs has meant that many of them are destroyed anyway.

However, the one piece of furniture that has been around for almost as long as I have is the dining table. The table is made of a dark teak wood, very old wood, so it’s pretty solid and stable. It has that lovely sheen that has come from years of polishing and varnishing. Maybe it was from Saharanpur. We lugged it from Meerut, to Delhi and then to Gurgaon.

Even as we changed bed frames, teapoys, sofa sets, it remained constant. A big table, with six chairs. It features frequently as the backdrop to our family photographs. It’s where I mugged my maths tables, Hindi synonyms, put on incredible loads of weight, and ate a million dosais. Five years back we took the wooden top off, and got a glass top for it instead. It still looked fascinatingly beautiful.

It’s where SD and SDG – my closest friends in school used to sit with me and we talked for hours. My mother would come in from work in the evening and chat with us. She plied them with food and coffee, and told us absurd jokes. As a kid, I have memories of my dad sitting with his diary, doing kanakku (calculation) for the day. Figuring out where money had been spent, and how much should be left.

The table also has its share of angst. The sullen dinners after big fights with parents. The dinner after doing badly in exams. The talk after doing some really “wrong things”. The bits when I would weep in the middle of teenage darkness.

Today morning when my mom casually told me that the dining set was going and a new one had been booked, my heart sank. I nearly fought with my dad, mom and sis. I’ve sort of convinced them that one of the big trunk like legs can be used to make a small tea table. I can’t describe what that table does to me. I am a senti sucker that way. I know there’s a good reason this table needs to go – perhaps it’s broken in pieces and takes a lot of effort to keep it in good shape.

I am sure the new table is beautiful. Parents and sister have good taste. But it won’t be the same one. Am sure it will gather its set of memories. Here’s me on that table, eating breakfast, before setting off to school in Meerut. Good stuff.

Breakfast before school, 1985

16 Comments

Filed under Photographs, Self

16 Responses to A Table

  1. ??!

    You really had a thing going with your hair in your early days huh?

  2. Ask them to dismantle it and keep it in storage for you? You were cute!

  3. there’s no dosai in the plate!

  4. Deepavali nalvazhthukal Neha

  5. km

    The bits when I would weep in the middle of teenage darkness.

    Come now, Neha, you haven’t ever blogged about that :)

    @ Maxdavinci: There’s no dosa on the plate because it’s probably inside her.

  6. I was going to suggest something like mumbaigirl’s idea too – ask them to hold it for you! Dismantle, store, ship, whatever! It does look really, really beautiful, and is quite unique. I know that if I tried to get a set like that in the US, it would cost me a small fortune.

  7. Perhaps there is a new thing waiting for you to be loved just as much as you loved this table. I am sure you will find it.

  8. Neha

    More than your picture from the age of 13, THIS photo looks more like you look right now. Not the hair of course, you understand :-)

  9. Gigi

    Spin it this way “making a tea table will go towards sustainable furniture cause”
    -g

  10. What a little darling you were!

    My grandmother had an old secretary (a type of desk). She would keep it stocked with colored pencils and paper, so I could color and remain amused when I visited during cold or stormy weather. It had a particular smell, smoky and slight musty. When I smell something like that, I think of sitting at the secretary happily drawing pictures. I rather wish I had the thing, but the memory is still very sweet.

  11. Hehhhh

    Is it only me or do you have an evil grin and what is most accurately termed thiruttu muzhi ?

  12. Krishnan

    Ha Ha what a grin ! Was that photo taken just after pilgrimage to Tirupathi ?

  13. Can’t you save a part of it, make a smaller coffee table or something?

  14. Ah- dining tables. For me, the centre of a lot of family interaction. My own dining table has bummed around the country with us, has had its top changed and chairs re-caned, but I cannot dream of changing it. And yet I’m fairly ruthless about most stuff. Maybe they can save a leg for you.

  15. Abhishek

    Hey good to hear the name of saharanpur … i belong to that place … just back from diwali vacations so me too pretty nostalgic :) .. nice read

  16. waht is on that plate?