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Tale of a travelling desk

- By Paramita Muller Lahiri, 22 March 2021 | 4 MIN READ


Only shadows & memories remained of the objects used by family members. All of them have departed in spectral silhouette from the gate of life to another abode. Maybe their presence remained, lurking invisibly in corners. Shelves filled with old books, old files gathering dust, newspaper articles casually piled. In some corners cobweb hung like gossamer curtains. A few framed photographs of ancestors hung on the walls, yellowing with age. Forgotten.

History of faces fading in the mind of the new generation.

The ancient table placed in a corner looked forlorn, somewhat abandoned. The desk top had lost its original leather & was covered with a cheap imitation. Some fool had decided to get rid of the old and replace it with a garish touch.

An inkpot with traces of dried blue ink stood lonely hoping to be dipped by its loving companion the pen. The old heavy Mont Blanch pen so treasured has found another home or sold for a handful of bucks. Pocketed pen, picked & pawned, pinned in memory.

Books have been written on this desk in the past. Grandfather, mother used this table to create & to pursue their dreams jotted in paper - - -

I had an absurd wish to rescue this table, give it a new OLD glance & retrace the lost words & find the muse of inspiration. I had an attachment to this desk. So much thoughts & musing have been shared by the desk and the users.

Rather ambitious, no doubt but worth a try. The desk along with its friend & companion the chair, travelled over hills & dales shivering & shaking over bumpy roads in a truck. Across the National Highway till it reached a port in Kolkata. After all the clearance work was completed the desk landed in a wooden crate in a ship.

Across the oceans, over seven seas, seven mountains, seven moons, tossed and turned by the roaring waves and mild sea. Lit up in a moonlit night, veiled in pale dawn it arrived in Hamburg. Waves of salt sea water must have bathed them.

From the port in Hamburg, the desk & the chair travelled 800km by truck, close to the Bavarian alps down south, to reach the place where I live now.

The neighbors stared when the huge truck arrived in our neat suburban street. My English neighbor thought I had brought some bamboo furniture from India but when he saw the hand carved chair he just asked me if he could sit on it.

Both the desk and the chair were battered, shaky, sea water had destroyed its sheen. Traces of flakey salt clung to the wooden surfaces. I found a carpenter who was willing to restore the desk, when I told him that this has a sentimental value for me and not money value. The carpenter & his son are idealists. The son is motor bike rider finding tracks for motorcycle races. In Brazil, Rumania & other places. But that’s another story.

All’s well that end’s well.

Finally I found an upholster who completed the leather work. Fine Italian leather.

Perhaps I could have bought a few desks with the money invested on this venture but the warm comfort & memory cannot be bought. The tale of grandfather’s writing desk.

Journeying two continents. “Tale of two cities.”



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