I learned driving in Melbourne. When I started driving in Delhi, I would stop at the turn, look this side and that side, and then take the turn. One of my friends advised me, if I continue doing this, I would never reach my destination. It took me some time to unlearn this practice. I used this car for five years without any problem. My car was my best companion. Then I moved to Jaipur with another job. This job provided me with a company car. Despite this, I brought my old car with me to the new place. There were so many emotions attached to it. I was not using my old car in my new place. From time to time I would, however, fill petrol, check the brakes, tyres, and batteries. Since I was not using it, I gradually started neglecting it. I was not so careful about its maintenance, and after a couple of years, I decided to sell it. I found a buyer. I had almost handed over the car key to this gentleman, suddenly, I felt sad for the car. I felt as if the car was telling me, “Once I was part of your family. Now you want to get rid of me for a few rupees, simply because I am old and not useful.” I felt as if I am asking my father to leave home because he has become old. I had tears in my eyes for a non-living thing. Science says the image processing of living and non-living things take place in different areas of the brain. But at that moment, I could not distinguish between a living and a non-living thing. I told the gentleman, “I am sorry. Just now I have decided not to sell the car.” I felt very much relieved when the gentleman left. When winning comes from losing, it makes one doubly happy. My car remained with me for some more time. I wonder if it became a junk or a garbage?
Junk is different from garbage. The rubbish we keep is junk. The rubbish we throw away is garbage. Junk is what was once useful. Junk occupies unnecessary space and has no value. Yet, we don’t want to throw it. There are many reasons for this. The sentiment is one. Imagine you are in a far-off place from your home. You receive a box of sweets from your mother. The sweets are over, but you don’t want to throw away the box in the garbage bin. You want to keep it. Some may say, it is cheap sentiment, but you don’t care. You just keep it. Let that junk occupy unnecessary space. If there is a need, you are ready to throw away something useful to accommodate the junk.
Take the appendix in our body. Is it a surplus? It is not. Perhaps, it has some function, and we don’t know what that function is. Perhaps, it is there as an investment for the future. Such “vestigial traits” persist because they are neutral, or because there hasn’t been enough evolution to eliminate them even though they have become disadvantageous. Says Sydney Brenner, “The excess DNA in our genomes is junk, and it is there because it is harmless, as well as being useless, and because the molecular processes generating extra DNA outpace those getting rid of it.”
The junk that begins to smell is garbage. My old car was not garbage for me. It had a value like that of a butterfly. A butterfly has neither weight, nor usefulness, but it spreads colour and happiness. My old car reminded me of my good old days at Delhi . My old car gave me a different kind of sense of fulfilment.