Wardrobe Management

A few weeks ago, we noticed moths flying around the wardrobe area, normally one at a time. We didn’t think too much of it; and Su was more concerned that the moths might lay eggs on the clothes and had studiously tried to keep the wardrobe doors closed. Little did we know that these flying objects were tell tale signs that our wardrobes were infested with clothes moths and their eggs and larvae.

To cut the long story short, Su began last Saturday morning to inspect her prized collections of furs, woolen wears and cashmere stuff and to her horror discovered that many of them had holes in them, obviously created by these moths or their derivatives. She emptied the main trunk and tried to salvage as much as she could, putting the clothes first in the washing machine and then the drier. As we had an appointment around noon, she couldn’t do much. She continued the exploration before the match between Croatia and Morocco and found more damage, but we couldn’t do a more thorough job until the next day, when we would have more space and time.

Su was somewhat tired after watching the match and slept late. I came back from Ricci Hall and bought her lunch after which we continued with wardrobe management. It was heart renting. We found more pieces of rather expensive apparel with holes beyond repair. I went down to the shops in Mei Foo to pick up four packs of moth repellent – two hanging and two in tablets – each with 100gm of active ingredients. Su was initially reluctant to acquire them, because these are poisons, as they were labelled anyway.

As we continued the work, Su found that she needed to part with quite a few pieces of sweaters and jackets and put the rest in the washing and drying machines. She reckoned that at least a dozen could never be worn again in public while a dozen or more would need extensive and expensive repair works. The losses were incalculable: apart from the costs, she had developed such attachment and sentimental values to many pieces most of which she had acquired for 25 to 30 years. For my part, I had to discard at least three pieces. The first was a beige cashmere jacket with knitted braids on the lapel and edges, hand made by the tailor at Sai Cheung Street where Rosita lived shortly after we were married; and I had a deep brown pair of pants to match it. Rosita had been careful to have it dry cleaned regularly, but I haven’t worn it since she died, so that I wouldn’t have had it dry cleaned since. I almost cried when I saw the many holes on the back and front. The second was a double-breasted navy-blue suit made by the same tailor around the time and I couldn’t remember the last time I wore it. The third was a trench coat bought by Rosita at one of the Chinese stores; and this one was bored by silver fish rather moths, so Su thought. It was getting late; and we had only done maybe half of the wardrobes.  We needed to work quickly if we were to get some rest before the World Cup Final.  I quickly went downstairs to pick up more moth repellents. I picked up 20 packs.

Su was methodical in checking each surviving piece and would scrape the eggs and larvae off the clothes with her polished and varnished finger nails. It was a lesson in mindfulness and a crash course in understanding the impermanence of life in general and practicing decluttering and living without attachment in particular. “At least I have made good use of these clothes over the years,” was a concluding remark from Su.

By the time the World Cup Final was about to air, we had cleared most of the clothes on the floor, sofas and bed and placed them back to the wardrobes in which were hung so much moth repellents, but there was still one main wardrobe we had yet to check, which was one with contents and fabrics that the moths might not like as much. We left it for today and were glad that the damages were next to minimal. We reinforced the doses of moth repellents and re-checked some of the clothes, so that we have nearly used up the stuff I bought on Sunday.

We are keeping our fingers crossed and calling it a day. There are lots of clothes to be taken for dry cleaning. I hope you don’t have to go through what we had. We would now go for a 2004 Chateau Pichon-Longueville before it goes flat.

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