So what do you do with all those gifts from an ex-lover when the relationship ends? Hang on to them? Give them back to that person? Or trash the lot with extreme prejudice?
There’s an interesting story about a gay woman in Berlin who asks her girlfriend to move in with her. Some months later the woman had to travel to the US for three weeks. When she returns, the girlfriend tells her that she has fallen in love with someone else. “I have known her for just four days, but I know that she can give me everything that you cannot,” she says.
Axe it: Give away your unwanted keepsakes to these websites.
So the spurned woman buys an axe, and every day chops off one piece of the girlfriend’s furniture lying in the apartment. “The more her room filled with chopped furniture, acquiring the look of my soul, the better I felt.” When the girlfriend returns for the furniture she finds the pieces neatly stacked into small heaps. She takes the pieces and leaves the apartment for good.
That axe is one of the exhibits (titled An Ex Axe) in the Museum of Broken Relationships. Founded by a couple in Zagreb, Croatia, who did not know what to do with their treasured mementos when their own relationship ended, they take the exhibits around the world and pick up souvenirs donated by people who no longer wish to hang on to their keepsakes. Since the museum was first set up in 2006, they have collected hundreds of interesting as well as quirky objects. Among them an old Nokia cellphone with a message from an anonymous donor that reads: “It lasted 300 days too long. He gave me his mobile phone so I couldn’t call him anymore.”
I have not seen the museum in Zagreb or its recent travelling exhibition in London that was widely reviewed in the press, but they have some interesting end-of-the-affair memorabilia on their website (www.brokenships.com). If you wish to get rid of a gift from an ex, you can send it—with your story—to the museum and they will display it without revealing your identity.
Frankly, I had never heard of this museum, which I now gather is quite famous. Neither did I know that there are websites that help you dispose of—dump, store or even sell—gifts from your ex. A museum of broken relationships is no doubt a novel and endearing idea, but why would anyone seek out a website just to store—and that too temporarily—a gift that brings back painful memories? Why not shove it into a shoe box or donate it to charity? Obviously a lot of people find it difficult to let go; they would rather push it out of reach.
Take, for example, The BreakUp Box (www.thebreakupbox.com) that I stumbled upon. Founded earlier this year, it claims to be “a unique tool for people who want to move on from a break-up without throwing all their memories away forever”. They send you a box in which you pack up photos, letters, etc., courier it to them and, for a fee, they will store your memories in a climate-controlled facility for as long as you choose, and send it back when you wish.
If you are seriously angry with an ex-lover you can sell that ring or the fancy handbag he gave you at a website called ExboyfriendJewelry (www.exboyfriendjewelry.com). The site was created by two women who insist that as you sell the gift, you must also tell the story behind it: “We want to keep things fun and cathartic so get it off your chest and tell why you’re selling.” Like the woman who has put up a Mikimoto pearl set for sale for $6,000 (around Rs 2.93 lakh). “This set was bought by my ex as a guilt purchase for an affair he was having and covering up for many years. It’s time to get rid of it.” So who says there’s no profit in revenge?
Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek at heart.
Write to Shekhar at firstname.lastname@example.org