Memoir : The Black Trunk

Sharing one of my old posts from another site I used to write for.

An old trunk stood in one corner of the store-room in ma’s home. Black in color. It was a little dusty, reminder of the fact that it has not been opened for some time. I went and wiped it clean and it gleamed again. A smile came to my lips. It was not locked.

My Mother’s trunk.

I remembered how she used to open it on the small terrace, slowly taking out all the contents to air them on a sunny day. The curls of her freshly washed hair played around her lovely oval face. A stray strand of hair would bother her again and again and she would push it back with her slim silvery fingers.

I would stand hiding behind the door ,peeping at the proceedings when she would open her arms to me and say “bitia (little girl), come here and see what’s in here”. I would run and park myself in her lap, breathing in fragrance of her sarees and touch the soft silks, completely mesmerized.

I loved touching them because they resembled her own soft skin.

I would pick up the carved walnut box and open it slowly. A treasure hunt would begin. An old silver surme dani(old-fashioned silver bottle for kohl), some age-old coins, some small pictures of ma when she was a kid and of my grandparents, two curls of hair neatly wrapped in paper which had turned yellow with time. The names on them ..TIKULI AND SUBODH. Our first curls of hair.

I would look lovingly at her and she would smooth my flowing hair. Our eyes would do all the talking. The thought of my mother’s lap still makes me warm all over. I would open the velvet covered small lids of the compartments by inserting my little finger in the holes and discover some old memory.

The box had a mirror on its lid’s inside and that was a secret compartment which opened if you pressed it hard. Some old letters lay behind that, yellow pages tied with a red string. A dry rose in one of them. She would take them lovingly from my hand, watch them and put them back. They certainly were not from my dad,I was sure of that.

The vibrant colors of silk, the reds, blues, greens and gold would create magic with their shimmering texture. I loved the deep red one. My mother’s wedding sari. A benarsi sari with booti work done by hand. A rare sight. They all smelled of clove and of a fragrance which only mother’s clothes have.

Some more little jewelery boxes would emerge from below. A lot of traditional silver arm bands, waist band, necklaces, bichiyas (rings for toes) and rings. I would try them all and pretend to be a princess and ma would laugh and say she will give them all to me in my wedding. That would make my heart swell and I would wrap them all again in the safety of the boxes with expert little hands.

Once the trunk was empty ma would lift the old news paper and under that some hidden money or more letters would see the day light. Letters written by my brother and me as little children to her. She was a working woman and many a times I remained alone at home with dad as my elder brother was in the hostel.

We would read them again together as always. A special bonding session.

Slowly the lot would go back in the trunk to be tucked under one of the diwans.

Today I saw them again the sarees, the letters and the boxes. Two things were missing ..the letters behind the mirror and the walnut box. Letters, ma had decided to keep some place else and the box was given by my dad to their grand-daughter as a remembrance. The heavy silver jewelery remained with her except a few ear rings that I took.

Ma still airs the trunk with the help of the maid and I, at my home, feel the warmth of all the beautiful memories safely tucked in it.

I miss being the little girl. I miss ma’s lap and my dad’s tender love(he is no more). I miss the care and affection and all the fights and tears of joy and pain, the time spent with my brother in what was my home.

I miss being a daughter. I miss home.