If Handbags Could Speak …


“What would handbags say if they could speak? Like asides at a play, bystanders at the drama of our lives, they would shake their leather heads at how we just about hold our lives together.”

By Shekinah Jacob

Recently a friend had an accidental peek into my handbag and I was quite embarrassed because the contents were in disarray, to say the least. It was bursting with random bits of tissue and all kinds of unidentifiable bits and pieces. Now normal people would use this event as a trigger to clean it all up and turn over a new leaf, but I have never claimed to be normal. Instead, I sat down and surveyed its contents.

This is what I found:

  1. My red lip gloss plus other chewed up versions of the same, because my daughter refuses to give up hope that strawberry-flavoured lip gloss will one day really be made of strawberries, despite my protestations and demonstrations to the contrary.
  2. Innumerable pieces of tissue. All mothers know that next to oxygen, tissues are what every child needs. They are useful to whip out when there is a juice spill on a friend’s coffee table, to wipe down wet park benches, swipe melted chocolate off smiling mouths before taking a photo, and to clean runny noses and ice cream drips.  I live in constant fear that I may not have one handy when I need it the most so I’m borderline obsessive about collecting/stealing/begging for tissues at restaurants, parties etc.  I have paper napkins that proclaim the Macdonalds, KFC and China Town logos, apart from assorted pocket tissues.
  3. Satchets of tomato ketchup from junk food places. Allow me a moment here to state (since some such places are mentioned in the previous point) that I don’t feed my kids junk food every day. Only once in a rare while. Ok maybe not ‘rare’. Once in awhile.
  4. Hairclips, and a brush. Again courtesy to my daughter who sincerely wants to grow her hair but loses hair clips every five minutes.
  5. Nail polish remover and cotton for when I’m rushing to meetings and my nails look scary. When I become president the first question I will ask the nation is, “Why aren’t beauty parlours open for manicures and pedicures past a child’s bedtime?”
  6. Polos (the candy) for when I have sugar cravings. Oh and a packet of biscuits in case I get stuck in an elevator with my son, who always has a food craving. Always.
  7. A book to read at check-out counters and ticketing queues so that I don’t give slow vendors what my husband calls “The Look.” Apparently when I get impatient I look a bit like an outdated, over grown Paddington Bear giving one of his famous stares.
  8. A notebook in which I write my grocery lists. I bought a smart phone on which I can supposedly do this, but turns out I’m not smart enough for my phone. I seem to have activated some option whereby once I open the correct folder on my phone it inquires “Save?” even before I have typed a single item of my shopping list. I speak to it politely and say I’ve not reached the “Save” stage, but apparently phones have not evolved to that level yet.
  9. A couple of newspaper clippings for my next writing project—vital pieces of research floating around in my bag like bits of old confetti.
  10. My laptop.
  11. A fused bulb from my lamp because I need to get one the exact same size and nobody has the warm yellow ones.
  12. A pair of earrings because I want to be the kind of woman who accessorizes but I haven’t got there yet. Probably never will, considering those earrings have been waiting hopefully in the handbag since early 2012.
  13. Two cheques (that are almost disintegrating now) for largish sums of money because I’m afraid of banks and will probably go there only when we are starving and have no money left to eat.

What would handbags say if they could speak?  Like asides at a play, bystanders at the drama of our lives, they would shake their leather heads at how we just about hold our lives together.

We feel connected by tenuous strands of relationships—the same ones that often make us feel like we are trapped in a spider web of responsibilities and minor fears. The plotting, the planning, the scurrying around in circles like lab rats. Trying so hard not to see that the straw houses we build around ourselves and our loved ones can come crashing down with a huff and a puff of anything, really. Betrayal, terminal illness, accidents, natural calamities. We swallow the possible list in an endless run of activities, trying so hard to forget our frailty, our dust to dust existence.

Our life is like a blade of grass that is here today, gone tomorrow, as the good book says. A blink and you miss it kind of life, mostly punctuated by trivialities and empty moments. Washing dishes, wiping park benches, blowing noses, collecting research. How innocuous. How insignificant in the large scale of things. I might as well give it all up with a sigh and walk away from life.


Unless the soul is anchored to something eternal. Unless the clamour in my heart that this is NOT all there is, this can’t be all; unless this suspicion is attended to, validated, verified. Unless I find it to be true, I might as well throw it all in. I’m not the kind of girl who feels that as long as the going is good, I should just keep going. I need to know where I’m going, whether I’m heading anywhere at all.

I don’t know much, but I’m learning the right questions. Often, the answers haven’t been too far behind.

As Bob Dylan says, “the answer my friend, is blowing in the wind”.

I’m paying attention. I’m listening to the wind.

About Shekinah:

Shekinah is a drama queen who lives in Chennai, India, with her knight (not always in shining armour because it tends to get too hot to wear metal clothing) and their two toddlers who make her laugh, and love her on bad hair days. Her idea of heaven is coffee, a good conversation, and cupcakes with zero calories. She likes writing about her family because it’s a good way to preserve the memories, and more enjoyable than taking photographs.