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Nostalgia with Singer

Though typewriters have given way to computers, ours lies unused. The sewing machine, a 70’s make, except for a changed board, can even now put to shame some of the later ones.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 22:34 IST

The soft clacking sound of typing as the keys struck against the carriage, followed by the ring of the bell announcing the end of a line, would jolt us out of our slumber, much before the rooster crowed at the crack of dawn.  And it seemed as if time stood still when he was at it. And no wonder! The grey-bodied ‘Royal’ portable typewriter with green keys, nestled
in a brown case, was nothing short of a beauty. 

It was the 70’s, and my father had retired after having first served the Japanese in the 40’s and later the British company ‘Harrisons and Crosfield’ as an assistant manager on a rubber estate in Malaya. Among the few prized possessions that had followed him across the seas when he shifted bases after retirement to be closer to his own was his typewriter. Not surprising, considering the story behind it! Having procured it in the late 50’s with his hard-earned savings, he cherished it so much that it was not easy to overcome the shock when he heard about the demise of the colleague who had borrowed it. When my father went to retrieve his treasure, to his dismay, the colleague’s son was reluctant to return it. After much convincing, the son accepted to part with it, but for a prize! And so, it was ‘twice blessed; it blesseth him that gave and him that took!!

If our mornings were heralded by the sound of typing, it was the gentle whirring of my mother’s sewing machine that would send us drifting into the afternoon siesta. A splendid, sturdy black ‘Singer’ sewing machine, it came complete with a set of drawers on both sides and a board that could be extended when the machine was in use and which could be folded back to serve as a table top after tucking the machine inside.

To keep my mother preoccupied in her free time, a Chinese woman was hired to initiate her into the fine art of stitching. I’m not sure how much she learned! On one side was the seamstress trying to tutor with her faulty English, and on the other was a young bride trying to grasp the language. Every time the seamstress was reminded to go slow, she would say, ‘I remember’ instead of ‘I forgot’!

Another dear possession was a wedding gift—a daintily painted Chinese porcelain teapot with cups and saucers that stood prettily in the showcase, bearing testimony to the passage of time. By the looks of it, it was evident that they had hardly been used, as such gifts were a rarity back then in the 40’s.

Though typewriters have given way to computers, ours lies unused. The sewing machine, a 70’s make, except for a changed board, can even now put to shame some of the later ones. Of the tea set, what remains with me is the teapot, three cups, and two saucers!

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(Published 21 February 2024, 22:34 IST)

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