Sunday, June 29, 2008


The drab pouch caught the glance of my irritable eye. It had barely been a week since I moved in with my maternal grandmother and it seemed like it would take me a couple of rebirths before I could get her house in order….and that only if there was no mercy in awarding me with salvation for my heavy duty patience. But something caught me thinking in that pathetic disarray.

A stay at my grand parents place had always been a treat to me….One part may be I could attribute to the spoiling I received at that at end, in stark contrast in the way I was handled at my own home. But that I realised was not why I looked forward to these short trips to her place. It was the chance of discovery that always thrilled me. It was that serendipity that I associated with those visits…it was a special sensation. I had built my own stories amongst the broken things in my grandmother’s store room…my imagination was let to run wild in that quietitude. In that spacious house there was always room…room for everything – emotion.

It was a great deal of comfort I feel when in this house - a sense of belonging. A sense of identity, not with people, but with things. Nothing ever changed. Even after the death of my grandfather….many things, in fact most things remained the same. The furniture, his belongings, his handwriting, his books, his glasses, his letters, his lists….nothing. And that was what I realised….gave me such a complacent comfort. And that was caught the attention of my monkey mind.

I saw that familiar design…red and white stripes….with the star spangled banner….Yes it was the American flag….but nothing in association with nationality or patriotism or politics. It was a mere design, and now the coincidence strikes me. It was the design on my grandfather’s pouch. And that sight was worth some reflection. I had always seen my grandfather as one who had bountiful of everything – of love and anger, of money and sympathy, of class and innocence, of ambition and despondency, of stories and history, of strength and simplicity. I loved to be around him. He was always my equal. Yet I looked up to him…because he was many times my guiding force.

But that pouch that had now gathered dust of the years…had eroded in its youth. As if it was quietly mourning the absence of its true owner. I remembered how sometimes I was given the privilege of holding it on rare outings with him. I saw it as a great deal of responsibility. No ordinary feat. And I felt like I was holding a trophy in recognition of the respect he had for me. My grandfather called very few things his own and to partake in that was my sheer pleasure. I remembered how when I bid him teary good byes when it was time for me to return to my own home, he opened his pouch to fish out some money that he would thrust into my hand. I knew that even he could not bear to see me go. I remembered him asking me to fetch it from his cupboard when he met important people. Sometimes I remembered him even looking for it hastily to find some money to send me to buy cheese…the food for which we both shared a common passion. I had gone on that errand for him and so would escape my mother who was worried even at that age that I was gaining far too much weight. One day he wanted to get me jewellery and took me to the jeweller and asked me to choose what I liked. My choice was not questioned, just executed. So simply, so skilfully so respectably. That pouch just went with my grandfather for as long as I saw him and today I realised I could not bear to see it without him.

I had lost those little pleasures. I had lost him. I had lost that familiarity. And in the process I had lost a part of myself.