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Clackety-clack: I'm home

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The typewriter once belonged to my grandfather. It is a portable Remington from the 1920s, and its burnished black frame still glints. The keys - pale yellow discs on thin metal strips - are as sprightly as ever.

Years after grandpa's demise, my father retrieved the typewriter from the attic. He went to work on it, oiling it, replacing worn-out springs, fixing the latches on its case. He brought the typewriter back to life late one night; the sudden clatter of the old Remington woke the entire household.

As long as the typewriter was working, my father refused to buy a new, more efficient model. I recall him saying that he did not want the Remington to go back into the attic. So he nursed it along with a silent tenacity. He stubbornly kept the machine from sinking into disrepair and obsolescence.

The little portable is a living bit of my father's past. He associates the machine with a time I can only glimpse through sepia-tinted photographs in the family album: our ancestral country home, father during his school years and Grandpa, standing straight-backed and mustachioed - the portrait of a patriarch.

Grandpa was a railway stationmaster who moved with his family all over northern India. My father recalls living in small towns and remote villages during his childhood, watching military trains head for the Afghan frontier, hearing steam engines in the morning dark, and spending long winter afternoons playing cricket at the local railwaymen's club.

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