Till when I was around 5 or 6 years old, packing for Benares trips used to be huge fun.
For me, that is.
There was this red bag I had. With yellow embroidery and tiny mirrors on it.
I lugged it around whenever I went on long train journeys. And packing it for Benares used to be a ritual.
I used to clean my desk first. And everything which didn’t belong to the desk went into the bag.
Plastic bottles full of aam-chur, my tattered copies of Thakumar Jhuli and Mahabhrater Golpo, sketchpens to colour my nails with (not being allowed to wear nailpolish, this is what I used to do), this small marble statue of an elephant ( it was cold to touch, and I pretended that it was ice cream and I was eating it), blue inland letters which Baba wrote to me from Benares, small multicoloured hair-clips…etc..etc..
I don’t know exactly why I took all these with me to Benares. They were not particularly important stuff (well maybe except for the letters and the books).
I just did.
Sometimes, when you are that young, you do things without really thinking why.
It was probably the fun I had pretending that they were important stuff, and being very busy packing them all in.
Subconsciously I probably wanted to see if things which couldn’t find place in my Kolkata desk could find a nook in my Benares flat.
And some of them did, infact. The clips almost never returned. And twice the elephant didn’t. Once I even left some of letters there. On Baba's huge working desk beside the window.
But then, one day, I lost my bag.
I was around 8 or 9 then I think.
During the next trip, I got myself a backpack and crammed it full of Dairy Milks, Enid Blytons and Nancy Drews.
But it was not the same.
My old red bag, which always smelt of guavas was sorely missed.
Have been cleaning up the desk inside my head lately. Its in a mess. Full of stuff which doesn’t belong. Fragile and yellow and multicoloured and cold and marbled and tangy and sour and whatnot..
Goddammit, I need to find my red bag.