Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Life of Archivement

I once read an answer in a chemistry test that went like this: "An atom of fluorine accepts one electron easily to archive a stable configuration." I remember thinking to myself, "That's a cheap librarian for you." How ionic.

But it's not such a joke when you realise that your male ancestor has succumbed to the creeping danger of all those who live in academia, especially historians and their ilk. There are literally hundreds and thousands of books stashed in unruly piles and plastic bags all around the house. There are papers dating back to the time of Constantine (well, John Constantine, maybe). The whole thing is like an archaeological dig, not a house. You need to grid and measure, take notes, examine the trash.

There is buried treasure too. I found a battered little blue book which, to my mixed mortification and excitement, turned out to contain a record of my first few months. Apparently, my first words to the world were, "Hiyo!" instead of the more common "Mama!" It seems to have perturbed my mother, and my sister observed with a ghoulish satisfaction that my niece has followed suit.

There are unopened bills dating back to the last millennium, and minutes of meetings best left unremembered. There are literally STACKS of old correspondence. Buried at the back of it all, I found a drawer containing the letters I received from old friends. And the photo albums from the days before there was an internet. Old memories.

Older still, my ancestor has kept VIDEOTAPES. And a cassette player! Argh! I need to help him clear all this up soon, before he retires and brings back yet another few thousand books. I have returned to dust, just as the Good Book says.

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