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For the love of bags

Geetha Ravichandran, Dec 1 2017, 1:20 IST

The boarding had been completed and the flight was being readied for take off. A flight attendant requested the lady, seated in the first row to give her handbag, as it had to be placed on the overhead rack. The passenger probably in her eighties and travelling alone, clutched her bag and firmly refused. It was only after a great deal of persuasion and an assurance that the bag would be kept safely within her range of vision, that she consented to the arrangement.

After I came home, I narrated the incident to my mother who is almost of the same age and who, as an intrepid traveller, is an expert at negotiating airports in wheelchairs. She could immediately empathise. She said that she also held out against such rules quoted by flight attendants. To her, the handbag is the most trustworthy travelling companion.

Women and their bags have an organic relationship.The handbag is an accessory, a style statement and an ideology. The statues of a prominent leader proclaim the universal principle that a woman and her bag cannot be parted. Whether it's worn on the shoulder or on the crook of the arm, firmly clasped in the fist or slung on the back, every bag has a brag quotient. But more importantly, it dispenses money, medicines, notepads pens, keys, hair brushes, biscuits - all the essentials. That explains why it's necessary armoury for women as they leave their homes.

The curious thing about bags is that they mould themselves to the style of the person who owns them. Every degree of orderliness or messiness is accommodated. Even when neglected, they spring surprises, rather like a magician's hat. During the eventful days of the note ban, coins lying unnoticed at the bottom of the bag acquired a life and shone like never before. Sometimes, things considered lost surface from hidden corners as if a faithful assistant had kept it there for you.

My mother loves gifts of all kinds of bags, totes, clutches, slings which her children and grandchildren bring over. She probably has scores of bags, but can always find use for a new one. Her bags are perfectly organised. Some of them hold her bank passbooks, neatly folded plastic bags, trinkets worn and discarded by her grandchildren and even empty jewellery boxes.

Others hold chocolates though prohibited for a diabetic, an old newspaper preserved because she enjoyed an article, old photos and letters, neatly embroidered handkerchiefs, bits of ribbon, gift wraps retrieved for future use, safety pins and hair clips. And when there is nothing to be carefully put away, the smaller bags are fitted into the bigger ones.

I am not sure whether they are mere keepsakes or would be of any use but they are her bags of goodies. All said and done, with her bags packed, she is raring to go.

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