"Yes, you asked for it. The name of the chest is called Camphorwood Trunk. It's made of camphorwood and the items you put in it will have a nice fragrance. Actually, you were the one who called it "Hope Chest"."
I read my mother's words in her e-mail. Yes, I was the one who kept referring to it as a hope chest, mainly because I'd read about it in the magazines from abroad and thought it was a lovely idea. And how wonderful it would be to have one. Hope chest. I liked the sound of it. Better still, I liked the idea of it.
"Yes, it was your 15th Birthday and you were SURPRISED with your eyes wide opened."
For some reason -- growing older perhaps and reminiscing about my childhood days -- I kept thinking about that chest and asked my mother about it. For that chest -- or that camphorwood trunk -- is still in my possession and it is still precious indeed, just sitting there in the corner of my bedroom, having survived hard knocks and scrapes over the years as we moved from here to there. And there is indeed that "nice fragrance" as I lift the heavy lid open and peruse the items from my younger days.
I wish I could remember how surprised I was. I really and truly wish that I could remember. My recollections of my childhood are not so good nor accurate anymore which is probably why I wanted my mother's input as well, as amazingly enough, her memory seems sharper these days whereas mine seems to be fading with time.
I was fifteen years old, yes, and I remember being quite delighted with the hope chest (my words). It is dark brown with what looks like a Chinese or Thai design intricately carved into the lid and the front of the trunk. There are steps on either side leading up to a pagoda. And there is a Chinese Junk -- an ancient Chinese sailing ship -- that hearkens back to the old days when the East and West made voyages to foreign lands. And it is beautiful. When my mother told me how much it cost, I was surprised. No doubt I realised even then that it wasn't an inexpensive item. It was a chest, for heaven's sake, a trunk, a large and attractive piece of furniture that weighed a ton to me. I think I realised then -- as I am reminded now -- that my parents loved me. They loved their only daughter and purchased one of her heart's desires: her beloved hope chest.
When I was a teenager, I remember calling my mother at the office -- both she and my father worked at the same company -- and the Operator kept putting me through to my father instead. When it happened again the second time -- he didn't sound annoyed -- he merely told me to call the main line again and when I asked for my mother, to mention her first name as well. The Operator had probably heard "Mr" instead of "Mrs". I miss my father.
I suppose, that is why, after all this time, I still write about my childhood, about the good and bad and all the in-between. As much as I can remember, anyway. If I had children of my own, I could share stories with them about my childhood. They probably wouldn't want to listen to too much of it as children tend to live for the present. When they were older, perhaps, and if I had a daughter, then she would probably want to know more about her family history, who her parents were and where they came from. And if I had a daughter, I would pass on the hope chest -- no -- camphorwood trunk -- to her. But I don't have a daughter. And there are no children to tell my stories to. And I suppose that is why I decided that this page had to be written.
Childhood calls. Old age is suspended in time for a while as I indulge the child within.