I’ve read that the toughest part of writing a book lies in writing the first page of it, or rather the first line of it. The rest, it’s said, simply follows.
The significance of this never struck me until I attempted to write on this particular topic….. I guess ,when you want to express something which is very close to your heart, you just don’t want to settle for anything less than the best to describe it.
After typing and backspacing several times, I decided to begin with these very lineshoping that they would portray my feelings amply ; “my grandfather’s treasure box” , after all , means a lot to me and writing about it is like taking a trip down the memory lane……
I spent the early days of my childhood in my grandparents’ house and my grandmother loved to describe me as “the naughty and inquisitive kid who couldn’tkeep her hands off things”.
Well, I don’t remember the part about being naughty, but I was certainly inquisitive and the one thing which kept me fascinated and which still keeps me fascinatedis the small cupboard near the entrance of the house.
This cupboard is an “exclusive property” of my grandfather andnobody is authorized to open it in his absence. The very aspect of the cupboard being ‘forbidden’ whetted my interest to explore it when I was a kid. I remember trying to get hold of the key several times, as discreetly as possible, whenever grandfather went for a walk in the evening and grandmother was busy cooking in the kitchen. I was always successful in laying my hands on it, but I could never go beyond the stage of inserting it into the keyhole. Trying to open it felt like committing a sacrilegious act…
I got the first “real” glimpse of it when I was in my fifth standard. It was then that I was allowed to use pens in my school and my grandfather, who was known for his fetish for pens (and watches), was the first person I approached, for one. I watched as he slowly tookthatkey, and held my breath as he ambled his way through the hall to reach the cupboard. Meticulously he performed the “sacred” act of opening‘it’and I waited ….
A very strange sight awaited me !!!
The cupboard was the most haphazardly arranged one, but my grandfather knew where to look for things he wanted. It shelved a dozen oddly shaped boxes, each one holding a medley of things ranging from stapler pins to pen caps; watch parts to compasses. ….snuggled in one corner were Rajaji’s books on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (I added these books to my collection later) and tugged neatly between assorted files was a box of “the 1000 pieces jigsaw puzzle”. Perched almost at the tip of the shelf were a red punching machine ,an unused scratch pad and a glass ruler among various other queer looking things!!
As I sat examining the contents of the cupboard, he opened the topmost box. It was a rusty “Britannia biscuits” box. He drew out a Parker pen which had a metallic finish to it and gave it to me. It was my first pen !! He then showed me a pen which looked like an antique and proclaimed proudly that it was a rare 1960’s SWAN pen and promised me that he would give it when I was old enough to use it (he gave it to me last monthJ)
I loved looking at his collection and very often found myself asking him for a new pen just to catch another glimpse of his cupboard (I’ve still not gotten over that habit. I perform it almost like a ritual every time I visit him). I also loved his collection of watches. He has two whole boxes of them; all dating back to the 1950’s and 60’s. I once liked one of his automatic men’s watchesso much that I insisted on wearing it to class(I was in class 10 then). It was aninstant hit. After all not very often do you find people wearing watches much bigger than the size of their wrists :-p(lol) !!
In life, simple things carry the greatest value…to my grandfather it’s his “collection” and to me, it’s just simply “watching” his collection!! I’ve seen it many times, now, but each time he opens it, the feeling is that of looking at it for the first time. I’ve not explored it; I’ve merely looked at things which he has shown me …I still don’t know what lies behind and beyond the things I’ve seen..maybe it’s this air of mystery which lends it the dignity..
My grandfather’s easy-chair is located right next to the cupboard and sometimes when I watch him from across the room I’m reminded of the sight of a mother protecting her child ……………
That’s my grandfatherwithhis treasure box !!