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Wednesday, 08 September 2010

The Briefcase

By Friko of Friko's Musings

Long, long ago, in the days before computers,
My daughter gave me a briefcase.
A special briefcase,
An attaché case,
A large, black, square box,
With locks outside and divisions inside,
Big enough to hold files and dictionaries, notebooks and pens.

For years this briefcase was my constant companion
On travels between home, work, libraries, meetings;
Underground and overground;
Getting scuffed and scratched, scraped and scarred
In my service.

It travelled in overhead lockers,
Under seats,
And, in comfort, on my lap.
Sometimes it became a suitcase,
holding a change of clothing,
A sponge bag,
A book
And a bar of chocolate for emergencies.

It has travelled in style, in chauffeur driven limousines,
And precariously balanced on the seat of a rickshaw
Propelled by a bicycle.
It has seen the world from the top of the highest towers
In London and Stockholm;
It has opened its jaws inside the Houses of Parliament,
And the Works Councils’ pre-fabricated sheds.
It has dined in the finest restaurants,
Road side cafés,
And factory canteens.
It has seen a bullfight in Madrid,
And the Taj Mahal by moonlight.

High days and holidays,
To my briefcase they were all the same,
All part of the service.
Nothing out of the ordinary.

But even a briefcase needs to feel special sometimes.

Once it came with me to a hospital,
Carrying neither files nor dictionaries,
But books and notepads,
Pens, photographs, music.
It stood on the floor by my bed,
Waiting patiently for the day when I would notice it,
Open it,
And extract from its capacious belly
All the things which would bring me back to life,
Books and notepads, pens, photographs and music.

On a quiet afternoon, with a million dust motes dancing in the slanting rays of the summer sun,
The briefcase opened its jaws on the bedside trolley.
And I sat, dangling my legs over the edge of the bed,
Headphones clamped over my ears,
Busily writing,
The other patients dozing,
When Matron called over from her desk
at the end of the ward.

“And I thought you were working”, she said.

She had heard me humming along to the heavenly strains
Of Nadir the Fisherman remembering his lost love Leila,
The virgin protectress and Brahma’s priestess
In the far off Ceylon of antiquity.

My briefcase had come up trumps,
Giving me the means to escape from my bed of pain
In the dusty ward of a Victorian Hospital
To a world full of colour and beauty.

Je crois entendre

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Friko, this is one of your best. To think about an object and the whatall it has served in your life is a gorgeous thing. I'm going to ponder this a while.

Glad to see you back. You gave beautiful life and animation to an inanimate object with your memories of the bag.

Friko - Nicely written.

What a great travelling companion! - Sandy

Wonderful poem. My French is rudimentary. What does the last line mean.

Beautiful, I loved it. You used the brief case to give a summary of your life. You did it with such wonderful descriptions and easy movement from one phase to another. I admire the idea and the beautiful way you carried it out. Thank you.

The most important thing it carried, it seems to me, were your memories.
Awesome memories held secure within the jaws of your brief case. It speaks of a very interesting life well lived.

Oh, Friko, I really enjoyed this. Thank you...

The last line translates as:
"I believe I hear/understand . . . .

I'll be pondering, too. I've never thought of something quite like this; nor have I had something that I carried around for such a time.
Wonderful. And thought provoking.

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