Not without my rucksack

All adults have a child in them. Like children have a favourite blanket or toy that they carry with them everywhere, adults too have a favourite something that they just want to hold on to.

In my husband’s case it is a T-shirt that I have nicknamed ‘The Polar Bear.’ This T-shirt has a bear catching a salmon from a river, and it is about 12- years-old. It is soft to touch, and almost threadbare from being worn every other day since it has been in my husband’s possession.

Once he came home from a business trip and went straight to the closet because he wanted to change into The Polar Bear. He couldn’t find it, and he came prancing into the kitchen and asked, “What have you done to my Polar Bear?” I had told him a week or so ago before he left for the trip that one of these days, I was going to do something about it; perhaps hide it or make a dish cloth out of his favourite T-shirt because he refused to put it to rest.

I still remember the look of hurt and anger on his face, as I turned to face him, and relief flooding his face when I replied, “I have put it it in the laundry basket for a wash.”

For me, it is my rucksack.

We got it when we went on our first international trip from the UK, to Belgium in 2015. I am not a brand person, but I had fallen in love with the floral designs of British designer Catherine Isabel Audrey and her company Cath Kidston. This rucksack was love at first sight.

The pretty flowers and colours, and the incredibly soft material had my heart dancing to ABBA’s Dancing Queen song the moment I saw it.

We bought it. Perhaps my husband, who hates anything floral gave in, because he knew that he was always saying no when I tried buying flowery bedsheets in English colours and patterns for our bedroom or when I looked longingly at a table cloth in blossomy patterns. He hates floral patterns, and always prefers geometric or abstract ones and find flowers and shades of pink too girly. But when I pointed out to the rucksack and stared at it as if were George Clooney, he said yes.

He did not know that he would come to regret this decision. It has been over six years now since we bought the rucksack and I never step anywhere without it. He complains that it is omnipotent, always there in all my pics, and now, he insists that I take it off my back and move it somewhere out of the frame when he is taking a pic.

He has taken me to Cath Kidston stores multiple times to see if I could pick up another one, doesn’t matter if it is floral just so that I could put this one to rest.

My rucksack is now frayed at certain places, and is worn for use. But I love it and want no other. It still makes my heart dance, and so it accompanies me everywhere. Since its maiden trip to Belgium, it has been to the Yorkshire Dales, Swindon, Cornwall, Swanage, Malta, Turkey, Sweden, Powerscourt House and Gardens, Wicklow, Bray, Howth, Kinvara, Enniskerry…just about anywhere I have gone. It has been on treks, on walks and trails, to waterfalls, on a hot-air balloon in Cappadocia, to a grand palace in Turkey, to castles and parks, to public gardens and shopping arcades…

It is my Polar Bear.

In my childhood, I had a blanket. I would take it everywhere, and the minute my parents would dress up and dress me up, I would catch hold of it because there was no place that I would go without it. In the end, one day when I was fast asleep, my parents wedged it out of my hands and put it away in a place where I could never find it.

They said, a crow had come and flown away with it. My mother says I cried for days on end and went looking at every corner in the house and even in the garden, trying to find my much-loved friend.

What will it take this time? Maybe there’s another rucksack for me somewhere – one that will capture my heart and let me say goodbye to the one that has had my back for the last six years now?

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