Winding back

A few days ago, I was opening the ‘extra-vessels box’ to take out some items for a party. My married daughter, then home, rushed to help. I thought why not take her help to check out the inventory, as it had been kept locked since I lost my wife. As we were doing so, she found a small sealed plastic bag and asked me what was in it. I said: ‘Must be haldi-kumkum’; she opened and it was! Her eyebrows shot up in question. I said it is a custom to place these inside first in any household trunk, especially with kitchen and puja items.

Going further down, she pulled out one more bag and without opening it, asked me why a second one? I was flummoxed but curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed it and opened. That is when I found the relics/keepsakes which had been in it since long. My eyes misted; my mind travelled back in time and I began narrating.

Years after dad died intestate, my siblings and I had discussed how to partition the huge house, the plot and many other items left by him: like Ravi Varma’s paintings of gods, old family photos, vintage coffee-roaster-grinder, hot water brass-boiler, a sliding-reclining chair in teak etc.

I said being in the Army and moving around a lot, I didn’t wish to take any big items difficult to cart around (how foolish of me!), except the then 90 year-old grandfather clock, and two small items: a stainless-steel snuffbox and a small Bhagwat Gita, now found in that bag.

My daughter was just two when dad had passed away: so I told her, how he used to repeatedly tell us not to fall for any vices like his father and brothers had, while he, when very young, had picked up inhaling snuff from a classmate and was finding it very difficult to quit (till his death at 82); how he had been gifted  this tiny Gita during the WW-II by one, Capt Baldev Singh (though both didn’t know any common language!), and how he would keep reading the Gita and other‘shloka books in his easy chair.

That is why I had chosen these items.  Having packed the relics with unwanted vessels decades ago, I had totally forgotten but kept searching for many years and even asked my brothers to search in their homes; they promptly replied that I had never given it to them. Now the two items are kept with puja items. The 110-year-old clock recently repaired, is ticking!

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