We called him Box Man. I had known him all my school years. From memory, I think he visited the school once a week. I recall his visits were more eagerly awaited during my high school years. It was because of what he brought with him.
He came to the school with a large tin trunk balanced perfectly on the back of his bike. He set up just in front of the school chapel. During lunch and recess, there was always a steady stream of students and teachers that sought the silence of that domed space. We would crowd around him chattering in excitement while he set up with a certain deliberate flourish. He would admonish and set boundaries to step back. He had some very special things to show us. We would move barely an inch and with bated breath waited for that tin trunk to be opened.
Once opened it contained a panoply of bling. Hair clips. Bangles. Ribbons. Hair bands. Trinket boxes, small and smaller. We loved every single thing, the shinier, the better! He would be lucky to make a sale or two each visit. Everything was over priced for school girls.
One day one of my classmates was bolder than the rest. She asked him why his prices were so high. He flicked a scarf in front of his face and missed an annoying fly. He took his time and then said, because his goods all came from England, with all the haughtiness he could muster. Cheryl was not going to let him get away that easy. She held up a trinket box upside down and finger on label said, “Can you read English? It says, Made in India”. He didn’t miss a beat and responded, “That one is discounted, because of the misprint!”
I can remember this incident like it happened yesterday!
Until next time
a dawn bird