A suitcase of hopes


I was looking outside the window-sill, found the rain water outlet so absolutely clean. Before I could turn around and ask, my mother informed me Guddu and Bhatt uncle got it cleaned. My school can be seen across our house, a half-constructed parapet and a little girl running around in white stockings with a nice red-jacket on and her mother calling out her name.

Everything seemed very distant and all the voices drowned in that feeble winter sunshine. There seemed to have been a light drizzle. And there was this crumpled invoice of a failed courier in my hand. That dark steel gray suitcase never reached me. I had not paid attention to it in months. It was sent on the 3rd of August, 2011 and today is the 26th of January, 2012. There was a helpline number I could call on the reverse of that invoice. Some Mr.Kirti answered my call, he tells me its about 5:30 pm in Mumbai and the office is about to close for the day. I gave him the consignment number and he agreed such a parcel came and was never delivered to the rightful owner and they conveniently informed us – Lost In Transit. He was kind enough to assure me the parcel is safe.

Suddenly, I hate myself for not following it up on time. The courier people offered compensation but I stood my ground. I thought of consumer rights and the counter measures, anything not claimed over a period of 3months can be disposed in whatever manner by the courier people. But they said the suitcase was safe.

I began wondering what about the contents inside. This aunty told me she sent an orange saree with a black and gold border, meaning ornate heavy stuff. Mother told me, my favourite saree was also in that suitcase. I was like, oh no – you mean the silver one with that blue and dull gold brocade? She said yes. I was even more determined to get hold of the suitcase. Kirti told me the suitcase was in some godown in Pune. Why on earth, Pune?

I dialed the courier people again, since it’s a toll free 24/7 hotline. A young woman answers my call and I could almost sense domesticity in the background - a cranky husband and a cantankerous kid and our lady was munching on something. I rattled off my missing bag story to her. She could not care a flying whatever, she told me she was eating dinner and she will see into this on Monday. I was very desperate and told her, that one of her colleagues spoke to me and assured me that they’d go out of the way to ensure this got sorted out at the earliest. I don’t want to sound sexist but I hated her so much at that point in time. I came down like a ton of bricks on her and questioned her work ethics and what about that glorified thing called customer care and service and how they could be so careless of a missing baggage for 6 months. Mother interjects that she had packed some homegrown herbs and foods. It was so agonizing to learn that, I almost felt like saying woh sab jaye tel lene but the sarees are heirloom to me and I’d do anything to remove the odours and smells of 6 months.

I wake up in the morning to find my husband packing for his Europe trip and gosh, it was the same steel gray suitcase standing next to his favourite Samsonite. Very endearingly, he told me to have a look and see what needs to be added or subtracted. Of course, I won’t find those 2 sarees – the orange one with the black and gold border and of course, my favourite one, the silver one with the blue brocade. The silver one is with mother and the orange one does not even exist. It was a 4am dream. 

By the way, I have been shopping to my heart's delight without burning any hole whatsoever anywhere. I began the year with an envious Kashmiri collection -a chignon saree,a heavy embroidered party stole and a salwar suit that I admire day in and day out and would hate to see the tailor cut to size. A few days ago, went berserk getting Rajasthani mojris and jootis of the choicest colors and don't kill me for getting about 8 MP handloom kurtas in different hues and dyes. Oh, another update, a friend's mom in Baroda just sent me 2 splendid Bandhej salwar suits in glorious shades. I am already over the moon. And,these are not gifts.
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