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The Permanence of the Temporary

I had bought new pencils for the kids last week. They were fancy little things with a whistle and a tiny windmill attached to their ends. The kids played with them throughout the day. They even used it for their assignments in school.

And one day, it was no longer in their bags.

The Permanence of the Temporary

“Where are the pencils”, I asked.

Toot gaye. Threw it”, Shobby bluntly replied.

“Get me new ones”, immediately demanded Lui.

“Hey!! Hold on a minute! You just broke your new pencils, why would I even buy you new ones now??”

“Arre Mumma, woh purana ho gaya tha“, they reasoned. I reeled on hearing these words.

One week, just seven days, were enough to declare something past its expiry?!

I sputtered some reply but it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t really the twin’s fault. Everything that I bought for them had a limited shelf life. For a long time after that, I was wondering if anything available today will last longer than a few weeks, months at the most?

Till a few weeks back, my kids were playing with a china tea-set which belonged to my sister when she was a toddler. Which means, the glass tea-set survived more than 30+ years of use. It was never packed up as a heritage. In fact, it was lying around our mom’s house before I finally brought them to my place. The twins had their fun, but two hyper-active preschoolers are no match for a delicate china set. The teapot and cups soon broke.

But. They lasted a good thirty odd years before calling it a day!

I still have clothes that belonged to my Mom when she was a kid. The clothes were passed on from Mom to my eldest sister, from her to the next one and then to me. And I still have them, a little frayed around the edges, but still wearable.

What was it that made these things last?

And why do we get stuff today that is thrice the price but less than quarter the quality and value?!

Anything and Everything that I’ve bought for the kids is easily ruined. The clothes either bleed colors or tear or simply wear-off after a few washes. The 3-4 digit price tags don’t justify the rags which they really are! The clothes will have a separate tag that mentions dry-cleaning ONLY in 10 different languages. Show me ONE person who gives all their children’s clothes for dry-clean and I’ll show you a 2-year-old who is potty-trained!!

Why aren’t clothes made for children more tougher, more resistant to hard-wash which they genuinely need (think of all the spillage the clothes have to endure)?!

The toys are even worse. Even reputed brands have a “Made in China” declaration. Not that I have anything against China, but seriously, you charge a bomb for toys which were made for a pittance and last just as long!

My rant isn’t just about children’s stuff. Everything that we get these days has a limited life-span. The quality gets poorer as variety increases. Like one friend says, she prefers that her clothes don’t last long. This way, she can buy more new stuff. I have come to a stage when I’m forced to buy new stuff because nothing lasts and I’m not enjoying it one bit! Every couple of months I have to hunt for clothes and to get them stitched. Once an enjoyable activity it now appears like a chore. Each time the seams come off or the dress bleeds color, I just have a weight on my heart at the thought of shopping again. Obviously, the poor quality is a planned effort to increase consumerism and help the economy.

But you know what? It sucks big time.

Here Today. Gone tomorrow. That seems to be the Mantra for everything these days.

Cell phones. Television. Toys. Clothes!

Nothing and I mean NOTHING lasts more than a few weeks or months at the most. If it isn’t falling to ruins, there is always something better in the market and we are tempted to buy those.  Think Cellphones. I have cousins who change their phones every six months!!

When we were kids, the most tech-savvy gadget in the house would be the humble Camera. It would last years, taking a thousand pictures and building memories. Personally, I’d rather live with a Canon film-roll camera that lasts decades than purchase a fancy digital one which has poor pixel quality after a couple of years of use. But guess what?? Film-roll cameras are passé. A pity 🙁

I like the comfort of having things around for long. I like the thought of keeping something for my children, for them to marvel over it as I did to my mom’s stuff. Alas, I can’t find anything which will survive till my kids are old enough to appreciate them :|. Heck, my kids don’t appreciate stuff that is available now!! They just haven’t had a chance to build attachment to a favorite doll or a dress.

Somehow, we are encouraged to throw away the old and get the new. Though we have more lifestyle goods today, we have lesser memories of each. Everything that we own today will be replaced tomorrow. Some would opine that the only constant is change. But I beg to differ. This permanence of the temporary is not helping me at all. I’m unable to teach my kids to value stuff. I’m unable to make them realize that certain things can and will last long if they try. For now, all they know is that each time something gets ruined, new stuff comes in. And unfortunately, a lot of things get ruined a lot faster !

So tell me. If you were to save one thing from today, to give your child after a decade, what would it be? Is there something that will last the test of time? (I’m not talking about your love for your kids here 🙂 )

Noorulayn Syed is a full-time wife, professional, daughter-in-law and an all-time mother (that’s because she wanted to be a mother since she was knee-high). Find more posts on her twins at