Thursday, February 09, 2017

A brown paper package

It was the summer of ’95. Or perhaps autumn. One would never know in the Chennai of those years, whose best friend was the sun, monsoon only a one-day trickle that flooded not the discarded cap of a cola bottle.

I alighted from the cycle rickshaw, and sauntered home, looking forward to the weekend. Outside the door there were a lot of slippers, and inside, a lot of noise, mostly female. “That’s strange”, I told myself, as the house would usually be empty at that time of the day, save my mother with some interesting smells wafting from the kitchen.

Inside, a strange sight greeted me. My mother was sitting in the middle animatedly discussing something with the horde of neighbors who had descended upon our house, gesticulating at a brown paper package kept at the corner of the drawing room.

I looked at her, at the neighbors and at that package in the corner. The package seemed infinitely more interesting than the rest of the objects and subjects there, so I walked towards it hurriedly. “Stop! Don’t go near that box!” my mother rasped sharply. I looked around wondering why it was such a big deal, which is when the story unraveled.

The box had originated in Australia (as evidenced by the postmark) and traveled a considerable number of weeks before being delivered in our humble abode a couple of hours ago by the ever dependable India Post. It didn’t have a source address or name, but it did have a destination address and a name, both matching our coordinates. Going on in her animated voice, my mother said she suspected it could have a bomb and so they (she and the neighbors) were discussing on the best course of action to take. 

Eventually, curiosity overcame the cats in the room and the few kittens scattered around. It was decided that the package should be opened, my mother reasoning that India Post must have got wind of it if it indeed contained a bomb (Really? India Post? In the 90s?). 

So was it opened, to a dream come true for me. It was WonderLand, La La Land, NeverLand, DisneyLand all put into one. It was a brown paper package that wasn't tied up in strings but filled with my most favorite thing - stationery!!!

Colorful pens, pencils long and short, crayons and water colors, sparklers galore, notebooks beautiful, sheets and sheets of lovely paper, some really cool sharpeners, many shaped erasers - oh the list goes on! I was lost in a trance flooded by the deluge, but I did manage to have a huge fight with my mom after the neighbors left. How could she have invited the whole world to open this love of my life? Like how some people don't like sharing their chocolates, I don't like sharing my stationery. Most. Definitely. Not.

P.S.: The package was from one of dad's business associates in Oz land, as a goodwill gesture for the profits he made thanks to dad. And, it was meant for me and me only (not even my dad). He of course had not anticipated shares for the neighbors! And I never bothered to find out how random he could have been not to mention the "From" address on the package.

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