The parents had temporarily migrated to the cooler climes of their country seat. We had made our home together in the city. So, I was on my own till their return, at the end of their mandatory two months.
My father, now a nonagenarian, and a retired Indian Army officer, who had seen action in World War II, was naturally of the Old School, and spent his time between his coffee plantation in a neighbouring coffee growing district and our home in the city. For his two month sojourn, my father packed more files & documents, usually in triplicate, than the Honorable Central or State Government Ministers & their entourage’s combined laptop memories!
The day of my parents’departure was a sight to behold. My father, always carried two large, unwieldy soft-top suitcases, each securely fastened with a railway travel type chain, complete with 9 lever [original] Godrej Navtal lock. Also,approximately, four to five briefcases, of assorted vintage, with different life expectencies. These briefcases usually being freebies presented by various companies, to his employed grandchildren, and hastily gifted by them to him, bore descriptive advertisement taglines. These were happily accepted, and used by their grand father. He,who saw no reason to cringe or quail, his advertising of consumer durables of a varied range. The offenders often bore the logos, among other FMCG products, of the market leader in pain balms, the printer-of-computer-printers–recently introduced into the country, the numero uno of Time sharing Holiday Resorts at which the who’s-who of India, vied to sun tan, and a milk flavouring product, which, if you believed what the cricketer of a bygone era toothily announced on television, was the established nonpareil of malted beverages. The balance files that couldn’t be fitted into said briefcases, were tied up with tape, not red, and stacked next to aforementioned luggage. My father also had his trusty portable Swiss typewriter (circa 1963), a set of golf clubs (circa 2009), contained in the largest golf bag that Tiger Woods advised. Secreted under the car floor mat was this trusty, rusty khukri-dagger-for self-protection, maybe for hand-to-hand commando style combat? If this khukri even nicked the intended victim, it would surely entail that he would die a prolonged and mighty painful death, from blood poisoning. Dad’s contingency funds, those were the days before ATMs & Cards littered our present day landscapes & highways, for this 5 hour road trip, were carried in innumerable, preferably small denomination, currency notes. This bulky leather bag, was firmly tucked under his shoulder, from the moment he boarded his car in the city up to when he disembarked at his country home in the hills. The sum total of his wife’s luggage? The ubiquitous ‘VIP’ suitcase, cabin baggage sized .
The following was my father’s PBL (‘Procedure of Boarding & Loading’) his car, for the non-stop ride, from his house in our city to the cooler climes of his country house. First, all his luggage had to be piled in a heap around his feet on the front verandah of our house. He started by ticking off the pieces of packed luggage earlier listed by him, as the driver loaded it. If any forgotten personal effect had to be added to his suitcase, then he would take out a humongous bunch of keys from the safety of his pocket, said keys being safely attached by a strong buckle to his belt. He would thereafter search through all the key numbers, till he found the one that unlocked! I never had the heart to tell him that anybody could just knock him over with a finger, and grab the keys from him, if they so desired. Personally, if I were the intended thief, I would merely carry off his suitcase! Neither could I tell him, in all likelihood, that nobody would be stealing anything of his on a non-stop car ride either! My mother, and her suitcase? Well, with much grumbling about her luggage, he would be be kind enough to allow her a tiny bit of space in a corner of the backseat! On reaching journey’s end, the same procedure for unloading and baggage claim would be followed!
That tale does not qualify for another narration.