Emergency kit

A loaded handbag is a treasure trove of stuff; some life saving, some long lost and forgotten!

When I was a teenager, we were visited by an aunt who used to carry around an enormous handbag. She used to joke that except for her father and mother, she carried everything else in her bag! I wondered why anyone would lug around so much stuff. Little did I know then that one day I too would do something similar.

When my children were small, it was sensible to carry some emergency stuff in my bag like a bottle of drinking water, band-aids, extra handkerchieves, etc. Soon the list of things to tackle emergencies began to increase and I started carrying head-ache pills, toothpicks, nail-cutters, scissors and what-not.

Once we travelled with my extended family to attend a wedding in another city. One cousin broke the strap of her slipper and I produced a huge safety-pin which temporarily solved her problem. Another one began to suffer from acidity and lo and behold! I was actually carrying Eno packets to her relief! One lady had omitted to carry hair oil but not to worry --I had small travelling plastic hair-oil bottles with me. Over the next two days great demands were made on the contents of my handbag. Wet tissues, headache pills, pills for loose motion, cough lozenges, scissors -I began distributing such things to all who needed them.

My sons often make fun of my penchant for carrying emergency stuff. Once when we were attending a classical music recital - much against our teenage sons’ wishes - one of them turned to me to ask - ‘Mom, do you have a bazooka?’ Another time when we were on a picnic, one of them broke his sandal. He looked at me hopefully to ask-“Are you by any chance carrying an extra pair of sandals in your bag?” When I said “No”, he looked most put off. “You didn’t think to carry an extra pair for me?” he said petulantly.

One problem of carrying too many useful things is that sometimes I cannot find what I want. Once I had to practically empty out the entire bag to find the house keys. By mistake, I had kept them in a large compartment instead of in the small secret pocket at the back of the bag meant for important things like keys.

On the other hand, I often find things I never knew were in my bag. Once, while searching for some adhesive tape, I found a long-lost pen-drive and also-believe it or not-my husband’s driving licence! He had given it to me once for something and we had both forgotten about it. He had been driving around for weeks without realising that his DL- which is always in his wallet - was not there!

What does it mean that I carry about so much emergency stuff? Does it mean that I am paranoid about accidents and illness? Does it mean that I am a neurotic who feels insecure without her emergency kit with her at all times? Whatever interpretations psychologists may make about this habit of mine, I don’t hear any complaints from my fellow-travellers!

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