Baxter’s monarch bag
“In Africa, we believe that you only enter the aeroplane with a monarch bag [a wheeled cabin bag] if you are going abroad. In the past years, it feels prestigious to have a monarch bag, a bag with wheels! Pulling a monarch bag used to show that the person is rich, because not everyone could afford them. The most common types of bags used in Africa for travelling are side bags with one or two handles. So having a monarch bag feels special. If you go with a monarch bag in my village, people look at you and respect you.”
“My father gave me the travelling bag in the year 2010. When I was about to relocate to Ireland, I did not have any ideal bag for travelling abroad to get on the plane. My father had a set of monarch bags and opted to give me the smallest one of all. It was part of a set of three bags. My father used to use the bag when he was travelling to visit his relatives, or going to funerals, or any few days’ trips. He sacrificed to give me the bag as a present.
When I arrived in Ireland and as time goes by I realised that the bag was very special to me. Yes, it is not part of the trending bags for now, but l still values it as a precious gift from my father.
The bag reminded me of my journey planning and my first days in Ireland when I started keeping my essential documents in that bag; that is when I officially told myself that the bag would be my keepsake. It was my first long journey by aeroplane, and that’s the only luggage bag I brought with few clothes inside. Since the day I arrived in Ireland, the bag became my document keeper.
I no longer have the other individual clothes I carried from Malawi; I only have the monarch bag and my brother’s suit. Whenever I am taking my documents from the bag I always think of my father. My parents are still alive, I am more connected to my mother, but the bag intertwines my heart with my father. My father used to give me substantial advice, which makes me the man I am today. The bag is now old and not fashionable. I believe when I get on the plane with it going to Malawi on my next trip this year in 2021, people will look and wonder, but it’s a precious souvenir to me.
I plan to take the monarch bag back home to give it to my father – to show him that l can keep things and care. I plan to buy a beautiful present for him and put it in that bag and, when l arrived in Malawi, I will hand the bag over to him and remind him of that special bag/present he gave me eleven years back.
My bag is remarkable; I have space for it in the wardrobe. I have been using the bag as the primary place to keep my important documents like birth certificates, residence permit, car insurance forms, and business documents.”