This chain of thought was started by Anamika. I've been tagged by her to write about a material object which holds many memories for me. Of course there are many, but the first one that came to mind was my father's atlas, so I guess that beats my mother's oven, which is what my younger son thought of when I told him about this tag. ( Maybe I'll write about it some other time).
My father bought The Reader's Digest Great World Atlas, (first edition, fourth revise, 1962). We were living in England at the time, I was seven years old, and he had been buying, over the years, some wonderful books from the RD collection. ( I digress, but I remember reading Man of Everest, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Snakepit, and so many other of those condensed books as I grew up).
The Atlas was, to a little seven year old, HUGE. ( It's actually about sixteen inches long and eleven inches wide, and merely an inch thick). My sister and I were utterly fascinated by it- we were only allowed to look at it opened out on the dining table. It started with Planet Earth in the solar system. Then there were amazing views of the globe as though seen from one hundred miles above the surface of the earth- photographs of relief maps showing all geological formations in vivid colour and exotic detail. Then of course were the regular political maps. We used to like finding mythical New Delhi and Bombay on the map, and once we knew that we were returning to India, tracing out the sea route that our ship was to take. (That was one of our best holidays ever- from Tilbury Docks, via Marseille, Gibraltar, Pompeii, Naples, Port Said, Aden- from where my mother bought French chiffon saris for herself and her daughters' trousseaus, while the said daughters were mere children, and, finally, Bombay).
There was much about constellations, population distributions, patterns of climate, the structure of the earth, the oceans, religions, cultivation patterns. Growing up with this atlas was wonderful. As a young child my favourite page was that of the earth's treasures, in which there were pictures of gemstones and the ores they came from. That was a magical, princess-loving, fairy-tale believing kind of age, when emeralds and rubies and platinum were totally fascinating. Onyx and carnelian, topaz and malachite, sapphire and agate, olivine and aquamarine, beautiful words to be savoured and rolled around your tongue!
The atlas was a constant in our lives, along with my father's dictionary and encyclopaedia.
A comfortable source of knowledge in the background of my life.
And of course Life takes you away from the known and the familiar- new locations for work and marriage. Annual visits home, if you're lucky. The Atlas became the repository of large and important documents like university degrees. As time went by, my elder son developed a great fondness for the Atlas, and would assiduously go through it on each visit to his Nanaji's house. And one day he could no longer resist its charms, and wanted to possess it, to take it home with him. I was a little hesitant, but we asked my father if we could 'borrow' his atlas till the next vacation. My father was very kind, and said that we could take it. We bought him a small, school atlas as a ready reference book, and my son triumphantly bore the borrowed atlas home.
He spent many hours poring over it, and of course we never did return it, though we would keep telling my father that it was 'his' atlas and we were mere borrowers. But, for the last few years, though all the kids are away now, both my father and his atlas are resident in my house again so the wheel has turned full circle. Both are now rather old and somewhat tattered at the edges, as it were, but they are still a valuable part of our lives.
Edited to add: I'd like to pass on this tag to the Mad Momma, Choxbox, Kiran, Yashodhara and Tharini. Write about a material object which holds many memories for you.