I’m packing up the guest room where I keep my travel coillection, books and a fold out Ikea bed for visitors. No one is coming this COVID-19 spring, so I’m moving our bed into the bigger room and turning the bedroom into a WFH office. First, though, in the soft ground by the roots of the leafy plum trees in my walled garden, I plant the tiny carved Ganesh I’d bought at Keshava Temple on a weekend trip from Kengeri Hobli. I wrap a Japanese fan and Senegalese talking balls and Mongolian ivory babies in tissue paper and pack them in a box. I take down my SmashBooks: thirty years of dreams and shamanic journeys, new moon wishes and lists of affirmations collected in found coffee table books, half the pages ripped out so the maps and poems, cards and photographs pasted, taped and sewn inside don’t break the bindings. These personal archives are wrapped in block-printed Thai paper and labeled with the years: l989 (Dakar), 1990-1993 (Tokyo), 2014 (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland); 2017 (India, Mongolia). On the Persian rug, I’m rifling through the volumes in search of a new digital story: sandwiched between those covers I might find out who I thought I was back then. I might excavate whole chunks of text, discover forgotten photos, an archeologist sifting through the years, looking for layered artifacts to juxtapose in digital space.
This piece baste stitches together narrative, childhood photos and archival text from a Smashbook in memory of my grandparents who taught me how to behave.