The pencil case

The pencil case.

My pencil case holds a life-time of memories. I asked my father to make it for me in high school. He had leather offcuts tucked away on the top shelf in his workshop. One of these I chose for my pencil case.

My father had a steady hand and a good eye for detail. He drew the design and once I approved, he cut the leather and the inner lining. His cigarette smouldered on the edge of his workbench as he lined up the metal ruler and pressed on the handle of the small, razor-sharp knife. Once the leather was cut, he found two sturdy zippers, one for the main compartment and the other for the front pocket. These had to be glued before he could sew them on his ancient Singer treadle.

The glue he used was thick, yellow and pungent. I loved the intoxicating smell of the fumes in my father’s workshop and am transported to my childhood whenever I smell it. He had brushes of various widths and applied the glue in long strokes without it ever dripping. His work was neat and precision mattered.

My father made me handbags, leather wrist bands that I shared with my best friend and even a cigarette case when I started to smoke at fourteen. It was a rite of passage to begin smoking and neither of us entertained any health concerns. The cigarette case was an elegant navy blue and made smoking appear so much more sophisticated. Sensibly, I gave up smoking many years ago and I no longer had use for the case.

The pencil case, on the other hand, has accompanied me throughout the years. The leather has softened and its deep creases mirror my own aging skin. The patina beckons touch and I absentmindedly rub the leather through my thumb and forefinger. Recently, I applied Dubbin which has restored its moisture and shine. While the napa leather has retained its oakbark colouring, I can also see a spreading algal bloom in a corner. It is a legacy of a cross-threaded bottle of blue-black ink, spilled many years ago. It had not only bled into the leather but desecrated a professor’s desk in my first year of university. The inside of my pencil case reveals these ancient blots. They are a vivid reminder of the professor’s secretary and her rising irritation. She was to banish me to the bathroom, inkbottle in hand. She didn’t tell me the facilities had recently been painted: floor, ceiling and tiles, everything a uniform royal blue. Suddenly, I was Alice in Wonderland, trapped within a giant inkwell.

Many years later, my pencil case is still a prized possession. Out of curiosity, I empty its contents onto my desk. I discover felt tipped markers, a fountain pen bought in Zurich, several ink cartridges, a small ruler, my favourite lipstick, a photo of my daughter, Aspirin and an old set of rosary beads that never sees the light of day. Objectively, it all looks a bit shabby and tattered. Yet this random collection of objects is imbued with precious memories. I place them back safely and zip up my pencil case, made with love so long ago by a devoted father for his only daughter.

To listen to this article click follow the link:

14 thoughts on “The pencil case”

  1. A very special memory of a place in your heart obviously brought to life by your lovely old pencil case. Really enjoyable reading about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It just goes to prove that shiny and new is not always best. Sometimes it is the old tattered things that bring us comfort. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


    1. Thanks, Danni. I have been thinking a lot about objects and how we give them meaning. I always find it so sad when I see a little figurine in an op-shop. Without the story behind it, the trinket looks bereft of life.


  2. You have great style and technique, Viktoria. I love the way you are so descriptive, detailing the thoughts and emotions of the time, and looking back. Also the way you relate the story involving all of the senses. Very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: