The beginning of the year ritual never changed.The weekend before school re-opened, my father would spread sheets of brown paper on the floor, and shuffle around my new school books till he was satisfied that the brown paper was being used optimally.
He’d cut up the sheets into the right size, and patiently cover every one of the books. I know I always tried to help, and I am sure it was more of a hindrance than not, but he always let me believe that he could not have managed without having me fold in the flaps.
The name would be neatly stamped on – purple capital letters spelling out my name on the cover, the first page and one other random page. He never got up till every one of the books was done, even if it took hours.
The cover barely stayed on for a week, but the enthusiasm with which he tackled the ritual never waned.
This weekend, I had to cover my son’s books. Life is so much easier for me. Brown paper now comes with a laminated front, in fixed sizes. Cellotape is used extensively to hold the flaps down. Labels don’t have to be homemade – I can choose between Power Ranger, Barbie and Ganesha ones. Yet, it took me over an hour to complete the task.
And I missed my father the whole time. He would have loved to help me. How he always loved to help.