Sofa, So Good

The husband and I have been talking about this for several months now. We have discussed the pros and cons and looked at it from every angle. We feel that we are ready to make this commitment – both emotionally and financially. We believe that our relationship, weathering the many ups and downs that life has sent our way, has matured. So we are graduating. From our bargain particle board furniture to the real stuff made for grown-ups. We are ready to replace our sofa.

Before I begin the saga of our sofa search, you need to be acquainted with the story of our current beloved couch. As with all good tales it begins in a strange town, when a boy meets a girl…

SG and I became friends over cups of tea, books and crosswords. A few years and several gazillion litres of many kinds of beverages later, we sort of drifted towards marriage.  This was a couple of years into our working careers. SG roomed with friends and lived in a fully furnished apartment. Which meant the guys used the dining table to dump their snail mail (it was a long time ago!)  and they had moved all rented furniture from the living room to make space for racquet ball and other sports usually played in large fields or stadiums. All crockery, what survived of it, was melaware with cold pizza permanently soldered to it.

I, by then, had learnt to make toast quite nicely, and proudly owned a toaster; a tiny fridge to store butter, cheese and an occasional carrot in; a small microwave oven; four normal (non melaware) plates; a futon on which I spent every moment when at home; a set of curtains; a television; and two foldable chairs for when guests came over. With such tremendous riches, I assumed I was done for the rest of my life.

Then we got married.

In the pre-nup, he insisted that we should get a dining table, a proposition I saw little sense in. However, since I got to buy a sofa in return, I gracefully gave in. We may or may not need surfaces to eat off, but we definitely need some place comfortable to rest the butt while watching television, eating crisps/chips, reading, napping, and day dreaming.


So we set off to buy a couch with big dreams and very little money in our pockets. We wandered from store to store over several months – the sofas were either too big, or too ornate, or too expensive, or too grown up. Then finally, at a sale in a tiny furniture shop by the wayside, we found our darling waiting for us. A little dusty and already pulling at the seams, I confess its principle attraction was the price. So with bright shining eyes full of hope, we became the beaming new owners of a dusty little sofa padded all over and covered in faux-leather.

All our pictures from those early days feature the sofa. It had somehow cottoned onto our naivete and quickly wormed its plump way into our hearts. It became the center of our existence and our lives revolved around it and on it. Many a sofa warming party was thrown and our friends started having their favorite spots on the couch. No matter if the faux leather became squelchy thigh suction pads during humid summers and turned ice cold during the long Delhi winters. We were in love.

Even the blindest love cannot ignore deep rents and oozing stuffing though. Now you have to understand we belong to the generation that looks for lifetime warranties on their purchases. We see no need to upgrade our mobiles, especially if the current one is still perfectly capable of making phone calls and the new purchase means selling a kidney or two. Similarly, if something is broken, wallowing in our inherent middle class attitude, we will try to fix it instead of replacing it. In short, we are certainly not the target audience for today’s marketers (if I ignore their efforts to sell me spandex.) So unlike the other million things we disagreed on, SG and I were united in our opinion on this matter – with immense sorrow, barely a year or two into owning it, we decided to refurbish the sofa.

If choosing the sofa was difficult, selecting upholstery fabric was a nightmare. We were putty in the salesperson’s hands. Between the two of us, we have fifty five years of education (I just did the math!), in the finest institutions of the country. We have been taught liberal arts, engineering, management, ethics and values by some of the best minds there are. None of it had equipped us to deal with dizzying miles of fabric and salespeople intent on swindling us out of our (woefully small) life savings. It was hardly a wonder that wild eyed, clutching onto each other for dear life, we ended up spending twice as much on refurbishing the sofa than we did on buying it. Which would have also been fine, remember we did get a tremendous bargain in the first place! Except that the guys responsible for reupholstering, came to our place, snarled at our beloved possession, proceeded to pull it apart and strip it down it to its wooden frame, spewed disgusting cigarette smoke over our innocent house plants, and then disappeared.

You heard me right. There we were, perched on bits of wood for two weeks with fabric and stuffing draped strategically all over the living room, with no hide nor sign of the guys who had done the runner on us. After some frantic calls and visits, threats and tears, they came halfheartedly, to finish the job, and left the sofa only in a slightly better condition than they had found it. The silver lining was that we had gotten rid of the fake leather and now could rest our rears on brown scratchy jute.

In the last decade or so of owning the couch, we have been apart at the most for three weeks. We relocated to Bangalore and of course, given our intensely worldly wise ways, signed up with movers who managed to scratch, maul, mutilate, and break most of our furniture in the 2000 KM journey. When we were finally and tearfully if I may add, reunited with our sofa, it looked like it had been transferred across cities via a tornado. If the sofa was a person, as we are half-convinced it is, it would have fallen sobbing into our arms and begged us never to leave it alone with strangers again. Luckily for all of us, the insurers fixed the worst of the damage and our relationship got a fresh lease of life.

So the years trundled on. We further cemented our impression on to the couch and created several memories. Family pictures were taken around it, and new friends were made through midnight conversations. We plonked ourselves on it for after meals dessert and I worked my way through several books and bars of chocolate and jars of Nutella. This was where I nodded off after a long tiring day, and where I stole weekend afternoon siestas because it is a well-established fact that napping on the couch doesn’t count. Even as I write this post, from my usual spot on it, I can sense the memories wrapping around me.

We need to replace it, it is obvious. Some of the rents which the insurers could not fix have gotten pretty bad and there are deep sagging gouges for seats.  Further, we are now at an age where proper lumbar support is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. We have been talking, on and off, about replacing it for at least two years now. We have only whispered our plans far far from the sofa, as we don’t want to cause it undue anxiety about the impending separation. We have not found anything that really catches our fancy and meets our long list of specifications, or so we tell ourselves. The truth of the matter is that we don’t want to let this one go.

How do you say goodbye to family?


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