Some fifteen years ago.
I am emptying the new bag, of all the soiled clothes that accumulated in the fifteen days trip away from home. I had to buy the new bag as the VIP sky bag carried along on the trip was not big enough to accommodate them, after acquiescing to the knickknacks and bric-a-bracs I had acquired during the trip.
” You bought a new bag! Looks so nice.” Mom comes nearer and examines the bag.
” Nice design. Functional. The metal Zippers are strong. The handle straps are wide, thick and strongly stiched.”. And she examines the thick leather label stitched on the bag embossed with the designer’s insignia, She begins to spell it, ” p i e r r e- pearry
c a r d i n cardin, pierre cardin. Looks like a good maker of bags. But the label looks familiar.” she remarks.
And then adds, ” I remember. Your nice brown shirt is also made by the same company, if I remember correctly, ” I explain to mom about the famous designer.
Grandpa, ( i was born much after he passed away) wished that the eldest of his six daughters should be a graduate or much more, at a time when it was considered a waste of money and effort to educate your daughter. But just about the time, when she was yet to enter her teens, he came to know that he had only a few more months to live. Being the shrewd man he was, he thought it was his prime duty before he left, to marry his eldest daughter to an able and intelligent boy who not only would be a good husband for the eldest girl, but equally importantly, could be entrusted with the unenviable task of getting his five younger sisters-in-law also married, besides providing assistance and help to a hapless widow in prudently managing the modest estate left by her departed husband.
In due time, we, eight siblings were born to my mother, before the time she attained her mid-thirties.
The result was that her formal schooling came to a close while she was still in the secondary school. Of course she was literate in her mother tongue, Telugu. She knew the English alphabet, a limited vocabulary and a few rhymes, besides a love for the language. The vagaries of bringing up a lot of unruly kids never provided her a sufficient opportunity to learn English better, which was one of her pet peeves.
“Pierre Cardin., this name reminds me of something. Sydney Carton, yes, Sydney Carton, He climbs the guillotine for the sake of his love towards Lucie Manette.”, she says.
I am surprised, how does she know of Sydney Carton, Charles Dickens, and The Tale of Two Cities?
I ask her. She tells me that she read the novel. A Telugu translation. Apparently it was serialized in the Telugu weekly, Andhra Patrika in the early nineteen fifties. She read some other memorable novels like The Hunchback of Notre -dame, Tess of the d’Ubervilles, les Miserables, I gather.