A priceless gift

There is a chaise lounge in our living room which belonged to my father. With its wide back and carved rosewood legs, it is a constant reminder of a parent who spent nearly 70 years on it. His favourite morning pastime was to recline on it and read the newspaper while he sipped his morning coffee. By the way, father did not merely glance through the paper as they do nowadays. With him, newspaper reading was a ritual, beginning with the banner and dateline and going through all the columns on every page until he came to the very last and read The Printers Mysore Limited. He read the obituary notices carefully to find, as he grew older, many of his acquaintances passing out of this world.

As children, we would scramble for a place on this sofa. I got my first taste for reading here, gobbling Dickens, Thackeray, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters curled up in its deep cushioned interior, while Time stood still and the English classics unfolded themselves. During the holidays, siblings and cousins also vied for a place on it.

Today, when I read the newspaper recling on it with my morning coffee, I can relive a parent’s simple pleasure. Many years later, as a 94-year-old, he would still do the same, opening the obituary page of this paper first to read about his juniors who passed away.
I believe father bought this sofa at an auction in KGF in the year 1915 for a princely sum of five rupees. He had just moved into a new job and house. This was the sole piece of furniture with which he started a new life. God knows who its original owner was or how long he had owned it before it went under the hammer. When I look at this priceless heirloom, I sometimes wonder if someone in the late 19th century also reclined on it reading a newspaper while he drank his morning coffee?

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