Ten year old Meethu was just opening her school bag when all of a sudden the slider of the zip came off. For a fraction of a second, Meethu was in utter despair, but then she tried to console herself thinking it could be sewed. She rushed off to her mother, yelling anxiously, “Mamma, my bag! Sew it, fast! Please!”
“Do you need to scream like that always, Meethu”, her mother said sternly.
“Mamma, please, it’s urgent!”
“We’ll buy you another bag tomorrow. This can’t be sewed, don’t you know?”
“Mamma, but, why not?” Meethu wailed.
“It’s the slider that has come out. I can not sew it back. Now get going! I’ve got work to do.”
Despondent, Meethu walked back to her room. She clutched on to her bag. It had been her companion for the past two years. In spite of being offered a brand new one this year, she refused to accept it, saying this one best suited her and she loved it the most. She would clean it on her own every two months. This was probably the only cleaning work she did without being told, and did so gladly. The tiny baby-pink thing was her prettiest possession. No other bag, or anything, for that matter, stood a chance in front of it. With some flowers of multiple hues on it, the school bag was her best friend. Every morning this was the only thing which would make her feel enthusiastic to go to the ever monotonous school. The thought of carrying it on her back proudly made a little corner of her heart leap with joy.
Her world was falling apart at the thought that it could not be mended. She stared at it for a long time. Suddenly, an idea struck her. She went up to her mother’s room, opened the shelf where she kept her things, rummaged through it and found one of those larger safety pins she used with her saris. With a grin of triumph, she ran back to her room. With the safety pin, she pinned up the case whose zip had broken and decided to use the other case. Exalting her genius, she felt proud of her idea. Of course, she decided to ignore the quirky appearance of the bag now. At least, it is usable.
The next day at school her pinned up bag became the centre of attraction. Some laughed, some mocked, some sympathized, but none of it mattered to her. She was happy, that was all. Beggars can not be choosers, after all.
Very soon, as days passed by, Meethu had to see more of destruction. One of the straps had become loose. She had ignored that, too, of course. But, how long can a dried leave stick to its branch! The strap tore off one fine day. Though now she carried it on one shoulder, Meethu almost felt as though one of her limbs had been separated from her. But then again, where there’s a will there’s a way. And where there is love, there’s an excuse. In spite of being repeatedly asked to use the new bag, she continued with the worn out bag. It looked as ugly as ugly can be- pinned up cases, torn off straps, faded flowers. Only someone completely out of his mind, or someone completely broke, would be using such a piece of trash. Meethu, however, was none of these. She was merely an innocent child, who couldn’t think of abandoning something so easily-something so dear to her.
Days passed. Carrying the bag on one shoulder, ignoring the bizarre appearance, refusing to take the new bag, Meethu went on. Sadly, as fate had it, one day as she was returning home, the bag gave away. Thud! It fell onto the ground. The second strap had betrayed her. Meethu picked up the bag. And the forlorn little girl walked the empty street, embracing the fatally injured bag. As the sun set in the horizon, Meethu felt tired. There was still a long way to walk and the bag felt much too heavy. Yet, she walked on, her silhouette quite akin to that of a loving mother carrying her plump baby fondly in her arms.
Reaching home, she sat on her bed contemplating what to do next. Would she carry the bag in her hands from now on? But, that would be too much of hard work. Or maybe it wasn’t the hard work that bothered her. It was the fact that Mamma would no longer comply with her excuses. It was already too much. And the poor little bag, too, had taken more than enough. Maybe it was time for her to rest.
Meethu decided to be reasonable and stop going on with the bag any longer. She emptied it of its contents and opened Mamma’s safety pin from it. Wrapping it up with a cloth, she delicately kept it in a corner of her cupboard. “So what if I don’t use it anymore, it can still be my companion forever,” she smiled. And there lay in that little corner, Meethu’s best-loved companion, her prized possession, warts and all.