In my next life, I want to be the sort of woman who can carry a handbag in the crook of her arm.
Just so we are clear — it isn’t only heroic forearm muscles that I want. Anyone who has carried a bag like that knows it is a code. It tells everyone that your bag is posh and so are you. Only handbags that cost the GDP of a small African nation and have been carried by royalty and film stars are worthy of being carried that way. If you even try to put the bag you got from Dastkari Haat in the crook of your arm, the bag police will come arrest you.
It’s also the appearance. All my bags look like I am carrying the kitchen sink in them. Or like I have captured a colony of large rats and am using the bag to transport their lumpy carcasses. Not really arm candy.
I’m not even going to get into what is inside the bags. I only have a vague idea of what’s inside my bag at any given point in time. Things spontaneously disappear and then reappear inside my bag while other stuff reproduces asexually and nestles inside, waiting to be discovered.
Things I always find in my bag:
Tissues, used or unused — two minutes in my bag and there is no way of telling the two apart. A few bedraggled, boiled sweets from airplanes and stores where they offer them for free. (I always take fistfuls because everyone knows free stuff has no calories.) A kaajal pencil that has laid down its inky life to provide a stable bedrock for all the other fossils in my bag. Some lipsticks that I will have to decapitate to use again since the tops have divorced the bodies of the lipstick. A coin purse which contains three keys that are so important that I can’t throw them away but I can’t remember exactly what they unlock. Chargers for the various phones I used to own — so if you ever give me the Nokia we all owned, I would be able to whip out the charger for it immediately. (The charger for the phone I currently own is always “borrowed” by my kids.)
Things I sometimes find in my bag:
My wallet, car keys, boarding passes for flights (unless they are for the flight that I am about to take, because then I cannot find them for love or money), doll limbs from the days when my daughter played with dolls. My phone.
Things I never find in my bag:
Nothing. I can never rule anything out. My bag is like an enigmatic, charismatic Hollywood star. When you think you’ve got to the bottom of it, there’s always something in there that can surprise you.
Once I tried getting a somewhat expensive bag (the ones that cost what an appendectomy would, not the ones that cost the equivalent of a kidney) in the hope that it would shame me into embracing order and zen-like minimalism. However, having spent so much on the bag, I had no money to keep inside of it, so I began to resent the damn thing terribly. My attitude was obviously infectious. A cheap ballpoint pen snuck in, then proceeded to lose its cap and leaked all over the insides of it. The damn pen taught me a lesson, that it was classist to treat this bag any different from the others.
I know there are those among you who are thinking that it’s not possible for an adult to have such a dysfunctional relationship with order, chaos and her handbag. Surely, at some point in my professional or personal life, the need for organisation became clear and I had to abandon my scattiness and embrace structure and a system. The thing is that while you would be absolutely right, you’d also be totally terribly wrong.
Because here I am, still standing, still using large, cavernous bags that cost me little and please me hugely. They are easy to sling across my shoulder or across my body. They repulse organisation but welcome pen caps, loose Disprins and credit-card receipts from 10 years ago. Even though they are un-arm crook worthy, I use them happily with no idea where my car keys are or whether the tissue I will hand to you in case you start weeping is used and grubby or unused and grubby. But, on the other hand, if you were to feel the need for a doll limb, I could probably fish it out of my bag right now.
That has to count for something. For everything else, I will wait for my next life.