Bag and baggage

According to a British survey, a woman’s handbag (rather its contents) is worth 342 pounds! A symbol of women’s emancipation, the ladies’ handbag has long since come out of its vanity status to be a part of feminine life and apparel. My mother-in-law never carried it. Nor did my mother. For them their lord and master who accompanied them on those rare outings doled out whatever was needed. For them, shopping was limited to home-delivered groceries and the mobile vegetable vendor. Carrying house keys was irrelevant as joint families never locked their houses.

The question ‘name the creature with a pouch on its body’ and the answer ‘the bus conductor’ was a joke that made rounds during our childhood. As years went by the question acquired many more answers like ‘the school child’ and ‘the modern woman’. Yet, going by my personal experience and that of a major chunk of female fraternity, this laurel to her spending capability and earning capacity (or both) is her most taken for granted and messy companion, popping up confusing, embarrassing or annoying situations.

Meena often requests the first mobile phone user she bumps into to ring up her number to locate her mobile hiding in the folds of the medical prescriptions and reports, bank pass books and cheques, credit cards and diaries that she carries in her bag. The other day Neelima fumbled for her pen at the bank counter only to take out a pen knife.

Seema’s bank locker keys accompanied her on her out station trips many times over, nestling in her hand bag. ‘Look into her hand bag’ is a common solution suggested when a thing gets misplaced in my house. It is as if a Pandora’s Box for my family to dig into for missing things, but the rummaging is not always fruitless.

Hoping for a semblance of order through compartments and classification I went in for a multi-sectioned hand bag. Thus the mobile went into the side pocket, the middle space was for reading glasses and papers, and the pen and keys perched in the other, and the sections zipped safely. A few days later I was on my way to the market when the mobile beeped. I opened the bag and could hear the mobile ringing and see it blinking too from below the bag lining, I could feel my pen and grope the purse but alas! They were all out of bounds. All the contents had slipped through the torn lining of the bag to disappear into the blackhole at the bottom. Reclaiming them needed the skill of a surgeon doing a caesarean section.

The topic of hand bags is incomplete unless the hand bag hater who like the koel laying and hatching her eggs in the crow’s nest, dumps her belongings in her companion’s bag.  While parting, the companion has no other go but to give back all that was dumped including the entire cash as it is too mean to deduct her share of the expenses.

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