The teak­wood box..!

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

DAD? asked my el­der one, “what’s hap­pened to the cousin you used to be quite fond of, the one who was like a sis­ter to you?” “We’ve fallen apart!” I said gruffly.

“And you never tried to re­pair the re­la­tion­ship?” she asked. “I did,” I said, “but I don’t think she was in any mood to work things out.” “And you didn’t try harder?” “No,” I said a lit­tle de­fi­antly. “A lit­tle like our teak­wood box isn’t it?” “The box?” I asked weakly.

It lay proud and beau­ti­ful in the cor­ner of my sit­ting room. Its wood­work was beau­ti­ful and the brass sides and hinges shone out like gold. Vis­i­tors who came over ad­mired its sur­face and spoke about its an­tiq­uity. But it hadn’t al­ways been so.

I had in­her­ited it as a dirty old cracked box from my dad, used I thought to hold rice or wheat in the good old days. I did the same. I stored what­ever I needed to hide from sight; old toys, old pil­lows, old blan­kets, and the box lay in a store­room, musty smelling, faded and fall­ing apart. Then one day a bearded friend, an in­te­rior de­signer by pro­fes­sion saw the box. “Bob!” he shouted “you’ve got a trea­sure over there!” “Blan­kets and old sheets!” I said.

He didn’t bother to even lis­ten to me as he pulled the old box into the sit­ting room, “Work on it,” he told the pol­ish man. “Sir,” said the man, “It’s use­less!” “Scrape it!” shouted my friend. The poor work­man looked at me with re­signed eyes, took out sand­pa­per and knife and started scraping. It had been painted and as he scraped the box, it started look­ing even uglier than be­fore. “Leave it,” I told my friend, “you’re just wast­ing time and money on some­thing use­less!”

“Carry on!” he told the man and the poor fel­low con­tin­ued on what seemed a use­less job. I watched in agony for five full days and even joked it was the paint hold­ing the box to­gether and it would soon fall apart, but my friend wasn’t lis­ten­ing.

Five days later the box stood be­fore me, shed off all its paint look­ing like a shorn chicken, even more unattrac­tive and dis­taste­ful. I laughed at the ridicu­lous sight.

“Okay,” said my friend to his work­man, “start pol­ish­ing!” I couldn’t be­lieve the trans­for­ma­tion. As each coat of pol­ish went onto wood, as brass was shined and worked at; ugly duck­ling turned into a beau­ti­ful swan. That was many years ago.

I stared at the box and looked at my daugh­ter and nod­ded, I knew what she meant when she felt a re­la­tion­ship needed the same work­ing on, that the box had got.

A bro­ken friend­ship needed old hurts to be scraped away; with that would come vul­ner­a­bil­ity, be­fore the mak­ing up and the forg­ing of a new deeper friend­ship, like new coats of pol­ish that would shine the teak and make it take cen­tre place once again.

I picked up phone and called long dis­tance. “Bob!” and I could hear sobs over the line. I had tears as I gazed at my box and smiled at my daugh­ter: A teak­wood box was in the mak­ing..! —Email: bob­s­ban­

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