In Japan, primary school students across the country go to school with a special kind of school bag called randoseru. It’s a solid box-shaped bag with two straps and a beautiful smooth lid. I don’t exactly remember when I saw this type of school bag for the first time, but it happened the year before I entered school and it was love of first sight. I spent that whole year longing and longing for the day I would get my own school bag.
One day, one of my playmates who was a year older than me came to my home after school. It was the first time I would meet her since she entered school. As I was anxiously waited for her arrival, my mother told me that my friend would be wearing the school bag that I had always been dreaming about and that this would be a great opportunity for me to have a look at the real bag closely. I grew even more anxious.
When my friend finally arrived, she came into the living room of our tiny half-dilapidated apartment and sat on the floor next to our sofa. I sat down with her. All the while, my eyes restlessly followed the red school bag my friend was carrying on her back. My mother came to join us and told my friend that she could place her school bag on the sofa.
“Sweetie, so this is the bag that you’ve always dreamed about. You can now have a good look at it and ask her any questions you may have!”
My mother said cheerfully, thinking that I would be happy. But I was beyond happy, almost being breathless being so close to my dream object in front of me.
Since I was quiet, my mother asked my friend if she could open the bag so that I could see the inside as well. My friend twisted the metal lock and open the beautiful smooth lid.
“Ooooh, sweetie, this is how it opens! Did you see that?”
My mother kept making big reactions, thinking that I would love to know how the bag actually functioned. But I was too impressed to say anything much. I had never imagined that there was a shiny metal lock at the bottom to secure the lid in its place.
Sensing that this was an important topic for me, my friend told me in a gentle voice that I could also try opening and closing the bag myself. I almost felt too shy to touch the school bag, but I reached my hand and turned the lock to open, then close the lid. My friend also showed me all the pockets of her school bag, and I asked her what she kept in each of the pockets.
After going through all the details of the school bag and all the questions were asked and answered, we moved on to have snacks and then play together as always. Though we didn’t talk about her school bag anymore, all the details of the bag she had shown me was carefully stored in my memory with all the sense of wonder and amazement I experienced that day.