My father gave me this box. He purchased it from Tokyo airport on a stopover while on an official trip almost 30 years back.
The Japanese box was a delightful gift for a school girl. I spent a lot of time with it. Opening and shutting it, putting things in it and taking them out.
Then it became guardian to some things from my childhood. Tucked in it, away from adult eyes, were a toy teacup, rubber stamps from Canada with a plastic container of glitter, the woggle from my Girl Guide scarf, and for some strange reason, a plastic camera roll container. For years, I also kept a letter from my father in it.
My father had accompanied former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, as part of the press on a Tokyo-Vancouver-Boston-New York-Washington tour. The letter dated October 12, 1987, was written on board the Prime Minister’s special flight. Nana (my father) describes how luxurious the air plane was and the royal treatment they received on board the Maharaja. How they were frequently served salted almonds and cashews, how journalists were being spoilt with Black Label whisky and 555 cigarette packets. He wrote that he felt as if they were disconnected from our country, then poor, and caught up in a severe drought.
Seeing the box and its contents once again reminded me of the day Nana returned from the trip. When he gave me the box, it contained the cat and tortoise stamps and glitter. For a long time my penfriends received letters with the stamped images.
Nana narrated anecdotes from the trip for hours. He had even brought newspapers from the US to show us. The big story then was the rescue of a girl called Jessica, who had fallen into a well. This was long before Prince’s similar story in India. Recently I read about Jessica McClure online. She is married and has kids of her own. She may never even imagine how someone in India was once taken up with her rescue and had read about it then.
In incidents like these is my interest in journalism and writing rooted. Seeing the box brought this and much more to mind