‘Sir, I am from BD couriers,’ said this rather gruff voice, clearly not very friendly over the telephone. He continued, ‘We are coming to pick up the package.’

I was not just confused but also a trifle alarmed. I answered back fast, ‘You want to deliver a package, you mean?’

‘Deliver?’ the voice was clearly not accustomed to this word. ‘Yes,’ I insisted, ‘You want to deliver a package and you want to know the location?’

‘No, we are on Rani Jhansi road just behind your block. I want to know when I can come to pick up?’

Now this was getting to be one pick-up tangle that was showing no sign of being clear. I asked, ‘Who wants what to be picked up?’

‘You know that, sir. How will I know that?’

‘Ok,’ I said, ‘but at least tell me who wants something from me?’

He gave me number and some more mumbo-jumbo with lots of hyphens and slashes and also letters in caps. Then he carefully asked, ‘So when can I come to pick up?’

‘My dear pick-up man from BD couriers,’ I said with feigned calmness in my voice, ‘you can come anytime and choose whatever you want from my home. I’ll pack it and give it to you.’

He gave a hollow laugh that told me that he now understood my predicament and was somewhat embarrassed at this confusion. He however still made one final effort, ‘Sir, you must know what is to be picked up. I can’t take the entire house.’

Obviously he cannot cart away everything in my home… it took me well-nigh thirty years to build my collection of over five thousand books, all my lovely still not completely heard cassette audio-books, all the gadgets that I had been winning ceaselessly over the past few months, my photographs… and I’d really have gone into my listing of hundreds of dear and not-so-dear things had he not asked, ‘You must have something to be picked up? Maybe a business document or some supply?’ He was clearly trying to help me remember that I had actually booked a pick-up and that I needed some sort of mental prodding.

‘Listen, my friend,’ I said, ‘I am not a business man. I have no documents to send to anyone. I am neither a bookie nor a cricketer. I am not connected to Srinivasan also. I am not an agent of RAW nor have I been entrusted with a suitcase full of money to be delivered to some politician.’

‘No… no… not those things, sir,’ he hurriedly said, and continued, ‘but there must be something. Please try and remember.’

Now this was getting to be like a complex crossword that I have anyway never been able to solve, despite they having even ‘easy’ clues thrown in. I looked around and found only my wife on the desktop busy struggling with her open excel sheet that clearly announced it was some sort of a seat matrix… and here I was busy trying to resolve this pick-up matrix! I tell you, the world shouldn’t have this word called a matrix. I am sure I’d actually have got up and shuffled slowly to the living room to switch on the TV to see a re-run of Matrix, the movie had this courier guy’s voice not come rushing to me through the telecom ether space.

‘Sir… sir… what do I do now?’

I told him that I would search and make a list of all the things that I don’t really need and then he could come and pick up all of them. ‘At least my home will be clear of all this vastu-unfriendly clutter and I’ll be in a position to splurge again without having the guilt pangs of filling already over-flowing rooms!’

The courier pick-up man on the other end was probably not enjoying this conversation as much as I was now, so he just said, ‘Thank you sir.’ He then mumbled something else too that I did not understand. I guess it was something like, ‘What is this world coming to? There is nothing to pick-up today.’

No, there is nothing else that happened after this. I am waiting for him to call again and begin his pick-up entreaties again some other time, some other day. For now, this has been shelved or filed in some remote but accessible corner of my brain as an unsolved riddle.



Arvind Passey
31 May 2013