It is time to admit — I have a relationship with luggage bags. I like to hold on to them even when they burst open at seams and the tears show up.
The very first bag, I was attached to, was a square box. It was made from hardboard and lined in satin. The lid came with a pocket and it was the only kind of suitcases people carried during their travel. It opened with two mechanical metal latches. Many times, the mechanics of those latches would fail which always meant pushing and prodding to open up.
For the longest time, this little box held all my favourite frocks and I simply loved working those latches to take a peep every now and then. When the hinges at the back gave way, my mother gave it to me to store my things. Only this time, I kept the latches on and opened my box from the hinges end. I used this box to store my much loved plastic doll called lily, whose nose I had scraped away and the plastic yellowish orange cat, whose tail was chewed away by my little sister.
When we first moved into our love nest, my husband and I didn’t realise for a long time that our suitcase was in fact, our little wardrobe. The little apartment on the busy street came with just walls and we dragged our tiny blue case in and arranged our clothes and other accessories like how we would in large wardrobes. It was fun to live out of our suitcase and naturally, we continued using them to stock up our winter wear even though we finally got our wardrobes.
In love with bags
During the late 90s, my husband and I fell in love with two bags — one blue duffel bag and one backpack. At first, it was just the duffel bag — a blue denim bag with black seams. It was sturdy with many pockets on the sides giving us plenty of room to pack and arrange. With a badly bitten travel bug, we hauled this little fellow in and out of many railway stations, bus stations and airports. It was our constant companion during most of our holidays because it was just perfect for a weekend getaway. Naturally, we didn’t think twice before picking it up on our first trip to Europe one early October.
It was not until a few weeks later that we thought of adding a partner to our duffel bag — a red backpack. I still remember the day we bought that backpack. It was a cold winter weekend in Eastern France near Mont Blanc. We had just finished lunch in a local restaurant and were walking back with a group of friends when we found this beautiful bag outside a tiny shop. It was love at first sight. We brought it home and very soon, there were two of them — travelling the length and breadth of Europe. I often told my friends that those two bags have probably seen a lot more world than most of us ever will.
Now, living in this part of the world, bags have become an integral part of our life. They escort us on our trips going home and other short vacations filling themselves with gifts, memories, souvenirs many times in a year. The “luggage”, as they are called, have trolleys and swanky handles and our long time companions have not been able to keep pace. A couple of years ago, our duffel bag finally called it a day.
It was heartbreaking to let go but we made peace because we still had our Mont Blanc bag. To this day, when travel beckons us, we slide this red fella on our shoulders without a thought. And, I pray, the bag will last for a long time to come and even if the stitches give way, I have a backup plan. I will use it just like how I used my first box. This bag has too many memories to throw away.
— Sudha Subramanian is an author and writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman