The big suitcases have come out of hiding. Opening them and laying them out on the floor is when the excitement begins. Before this specific act, there are people asking me, are you excited? I say a half hearted yes, to not disappoint the excitement in their voice. But, it really kicks in when the packing starts. Counting the number of days equal to the number of dresses/clothes I need. Add two for buffer. Pick out the dresses/clothes and stack them neatly. Then I see a bunch of them need to be ironed. I diligently iron them. Then the night clothes and essentials. Again equal to the number of days and two for buffer. Once the clothes are decided, then come out the pouches from hiding. Each pouch will serve a purpose. Medicines, makeup, jewelry, daily needs. Then there is the matter of footwear. I start planning footwear way before I pick my clothes. One footwear that makes sense and will go with all my clothes. A simple, comfortable pair of shoes. Somewhere after the footwear and before the clothes, comes my checklist on my phone. Randomly watching TV is when I start building the checklist. Once everything is laid out on the bed, a day or two before the departure date, all these carefully handpicked items move from my bed to the suitcase. Then it is a countdown feeling. Two days from now we will be at this place, doing this or eating this. That is when the excitement kicks in slowly.
The checklist is checked top to bottom and bottom to top, just to be sure. Everything in order, and we get to the airport. Once there, every aspect of mundane life recedes to the background. It is excitement and anticipation of the time, the boys and I will get to spend together 24×7, exploring, joking, laughing, discussing, wow-ing and taking in all the sights the place has to offer.
I guess this euphoric feeling of seeing the big suitcase coming out is something that has grown with me since I was very young. My family owned a yellow VIP suitcase. It was a hardcase, the top came down and there were metal snaps, that you pressed to shut them close. This is before suitcases had zips. What the current generation would call ‘Retro’. There were number locks, I dont remember if this particular one had a number lock. The inside covering was a golden yellow machine embroidered cloth, I think. Maybe my love for yellow started then. That suitcase coming down from the seven foot almirah meant we were going from Bangalore to Kerala for vacation. Lack of time and money stopped my family from taking vacations to new places every year. Those did happen once or twice, but vacation meant boarding the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express from Bangalore Central Reservation on Sleeper Class tickets to Shoranur Junction. We got off there and took a bus with this yellow suitcase to my grandmother’s place. After a few weeks there, the suitcase went with us to Kannur, to my paternal grandparents place, filled with more uncles, one aunt and a handful cousins. A ‘fewer’ weeks there and then the suitcase boarded an overnight bus to Bangalore. Somewhere towards the end of maternal grandmother’s house and before the paternal grandparents house, my father joined us. My father preserved a lot of things. The original magazine covers from the 1970’s where my mother’s picture appeared on the cover. In the pile of junk I cleaned out, I found my 9th grade report card. My boys saw my marks in general knowledge and added it as a weapon in their quiver (smh). One thing I did not find, is the yellow suitcase. When I was small, the yellow suitcase seemed big. I guess now that I am big, it wont be bigger than a carry on. I dont know, I never will.
There are things in our life, objects that remain memories. We don’t have pictures that our eyes can see, but stark images in our mind, stored forever. Like the blue metal folding chairs in my house, which I don’t know how many times I must have opened and folded. The gas stove that my father bought, many many years ago, that didn’t need a lighter, the knob had ignition built in, This one I don’t have to imagine, because my father still used it until his last day. It was waiting for him in the kitchen when I went to clear out the house earlier this year. There are so many objects that we use everyday, but they slip away with time.
If there was only thing I could do in my life, that would be to travel, to every nook and corner of the world. I believe there is so much to see, so much to experience. So this time, the suitcases are out, getting filled slowly, as we jet set to the UK, checking off a place that has been on the boys and my bucket list for many many years now. The excitement, like the bubbles in a glass of champagne making their way to the surface. The suitcase is not significant looking. A dark teal colored companion I bought earlier this year to accompany me on my journey of the world. Let’s see how many places she and I will see together.