Pleasure of pillows

Pleasure of pillows

Whatever its kind, big or small, hard or soft, the pillow is the crowning-piece of a bed and, to adapt a well-known saying, “Uneasy lies the head that is without one.”

When did this purveyor of ease and comfort first appear? The earliest pillow was the crooked arm with the head resting on upturned palm. This was done by early man not only for comfort but also to prevent insects from entering his ears. In time, he found a better option, for Egyptian tombs show people using stone pillows. Then came pillows stuffed with straw or feathers, followed by those filled with cotton fluff or foam rubber.

A curious practice in our country was laying the newborn baby on pillows filled with mustard seeds. This, it was believed, would confer a perfect shape to the developing head. What the helpless infant felt about this, no one can tell. What we do remember as children though is that pillows lent themselves to delightful and rollicking fights. Sparring with pillows was both exciting and harmless. Wisps of cotton flew and so did admonitions from irate parents. This hardly proved any deterrent though.

Another delightful aspect of childhood is the fantasy of the tooth fairy. She is the sprite who eases the ordeal of shaky milk teeth. Gifts from her compensate the pain of having them pulled out. The fairy, of course, is none other than the fond parent. This harmless deception brings much joy, but it can also, as it did with my granddaughter, bring one face to face with harsh reality.

She was very close to her grandfather and was still a vulnerable seven-year-old when he died suddenly. In the aftermath, no one realised the depth and sharpness of her grief. Then, she lost a tooth and, as usual, placed it under her pillow along with a request to the tooth fairy to restore her beloved grandfather to her. She was awake when, in the early hours of the morning, her mother crept in with a book and stealthily lifted her pillow. She was startled to hear the child say in a broken voice, “Now I know there is no tooth fairy. Thatha won’t ever come back.”

Pillows possess no power to bring back the dead but they are a sure source of support and solace. You can confide your fears and sorrows to yours. You can bang your fists on it and drench it with your tears. It will respond to you in sympathetic silence. Pillows are eminently huggable and take away pain, whether physical or mental.

Your favourite pillow is as personal as the clothes you wear. No wonder then that an upscale hotel in Singapore presents its clients with a choice of sixteen varieties of pillows!

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