The spring I entered primary school, a relative of mine gave me a box of old school items which once belonged to her son. Her son was more than 10 years older than me, so his school items were already at least a decade old when they arrived at my place.
My mother was delighted upon receiving this very useful gift. It meant that there was much less new stuff to buy for me. I, on the other hand, had a mixed feeling about this hand-me-down school items.
Some of them were actually of great quality. The melodica, for example, was still in a good condition, and its original quality was far better than the one my peers purchased at school.
Others, however, had age-related issues.
Among the items passed down to me was a large number of watercolour paint tubes. They looked fancy from outside, but once I started using them, I realized that the paint had gone hard over the ten years of abandonment. When I pressed some of the paint tubes in order to take some amount on my palette, instead of coming out from the top, the paint came out from the bottom, breaking through the edge of the soft metal tube. Others were completely dried up, and no paint came out of the tubes.
Whenever my hand-me-down school items gave me these unique issues, I used to envy my friends and told my mother about the problem in every detail. But it never inspired her to buy me new ones. In fact, she thought my story was funny and entertaining, and she recounted the story with great delight whenever we were at a large gathering with our relatives.
When I was in Grade 5, we were going to work on woodblock printing in the arts and crafts class, and everybody in my class ordered a new set of engraving knives at school – except me.
I was actually very excited about getting a brand-new set of engraving knives, which looked beautiful in the picture I had seen at school. As soon as I got back home and told my mother about it, however, she said we should first check if there were engraving knives in the collection of my hand-me-down school items.
As we both went into my room and as my mother started looking through my drawers of hand-me-down items, I prayed that there was no engraving knife to be found. I really wanted that set I saw in the school catalog.
“There it is!” My mother’s excited voice echoed in the room. “You actually have two sets. So, there is no need to buy a new one!”
When I looked, I saw two identical sets of engraving knives. They were made by a renowned brand, but in my eyes, they lacked the beauty I had seen in the new one advertised in the school catalog. My disappointed was huge, but since there was no point in trying to change my mother’s mind, I brought my hand-me-down set of engraving knives to school to start working on the woodblock printing project.
As I sat with my friends carving the woodblock, I constantly envied their beautiful engraving knives. But it turned out that my old set was not without its own perk. One of my knives was extremely sharp and incredibly easy to use. Soon, my friends started borrowing it to work on a particularly narrow portion of their design.
“Where is your knife?” They would ask me, and I would hand my knife to them proudly.
Some of my friends even asked me where I had got my knives!
In any case, the generous gift of hand-me-down school items from my relative certainly gave my family more than mere convenience and money saving opportunities. My whole school experience became more memorable and interesting because of that.