farewell my love
When I took the first leap, the first sure way to escape, the first path that lead me from the old to the new, as long as I had my backpack, I was invincible. I had no name for my backpack but it was a dark blue one with gray straps, and stitched in white it’s brand, DEUTER, a sturdy German label that assures comfort, longevity and hardiness. It was a name that stood against time and nature.
It was my most expensive investment before I left home and took that 24-hour rickety sleeper train to Bangkok from Butterworth, the first point of my journey. It probably cost about RM380 which with the passing of time makes my memory less accurate on it but nonetheless, I remember, it was a worthy investment.
Ed and I, in all our eagerness to leave our lives as corporate slaves and namely, our city, the good old polluted Kuala Lumpur, had went to Pertama Complex with Steffert, the Dutch CouchSurfer that we were hosting at that time, to look at backpacks. It so happened that Steffert also needed a new backpack. The trio headed there and within 15 minutes of haggling with an aggressive old Chinese lady, we managed to get at least 40% off the original prices. After all, Malaysians hadn’t got the hang of the culture of backpacking yet and they needed to make some money-3 expensive backpacks off the racks within the week must be pretty good business.
I remember leaving the shopping complex, beaming and dreaming of all the adventures that I could have with that backpack of mine. It was a 45+10 Litres, with a lot of extra space for shoes and dirty laundry. I even attached a silver and blue teddy bear luggage tag to it, thus personalizing it.
Over the years, the backpack had served me well. I had never washed it so it continued to wear the stains of spilled shampoo, the muddy streaks of dirty hiking sneakers, stains of tar, grime and dirt yet I still love it. It’s mine, it’s my home and now, it finally has some sort of character to it. When I load the backpack onto my shoulders, it towers over me, but the weight never wore me down. The hip straps balanced the weight properly and so even if people couldn’t see the top of my head from the back, they could see that the person carrying the backpack walked in perfect straight lines.
The backpack has been and seen places-it has been put on the cigarette littered train floorboards of the creaking Bulgarian trains, tied to the top of the roof of the Vietnamese busses, placed in between sacks of rice and random poultry animals, in between my unwashed knees and below the feet of my travel companions, from cruise ships to the back of motorcycles, from obscure bus stations to airports…everywhere.
It never tore, the zips always opened and my things were always safe-unlocked. In there, I could fit a hair-dryer, 6 different pairs of shoes, dresses, an umbrella, a sleeping bag, under garments, you name it.
It was my anchor, the only thing that I had constantly despite my transient existence.
You could only imagine my grief and anguish, the feeling that I could akin to losing a loved one, when the staff of a domestic Indonesian Airlines lost my backpack. At first, it seemed like it was misplaced and there was still hope. After all, I always got my backpack back, even if it went missing in Paris, Rome, Guadeloupe, Venice and Doha. It always turned up, like the rising sun.
However, as days slip into weeks and now months, hope has melted away. I had to accept the fact that I’ll never see my best friend-ever again.
I went to purchase a new one, from the same shop that sold my old one. The old Chinese lady was still there, still willful to make a bargain. Everything felt the same, the experience of haggling and everything, except this time, I looked at the Deuter red and grey backpack and thought, no, it is just not the same.
Nothing will ever be the same again.
Wherever you are now, my Blue and Grey Deuter Backpack, may you continue to see things and go places.