A Briefcase of Memories

suitcaseImage copyright: by Jenifer Altman, Polaroid Love Notes

A briefcase of memories


One solitary over-ripe apple baked in the heat and stifled by its own banality.

The odours of books, leather and fruit.

A vapid, pervasive, emptiness.

A purposeful facade that deceives keen onlookers

But can’t conceal the profound ache

that ebbs and flows throughout each working day.

Compartments of lack; a lament for unfulfilled potential

You were indefatigable in your daily toil, your need to serve

and you deserved a world that reciprocated.

This prose piece was inspired by my father’s brown leather briefcase that I so keenly remember. He worked in a job that he was over-qualified for and under-appreciated in and despite leaving an imprint on many people, he never got the chance to fulfill his potential in a career of his choice. I remember opening the suitcase to reveal what he took for lunch each day,  (a few pieces of fruit) and thinking about how he must have felt going to work each day, feeling a sense of emptiness, worrying about how to pay the petrol on the way home and knowing that he wasn’t fulfilling his full potential. The piece reflects a quintessential struggle many migrants experience: having to compromise their own desires in a new country in order to provide for their family.


7 thoughts on “A Briefcase of Memories

  1. Wow. It also spoke to me, in a very clear voice. My dad want an immigrant either but was geographically bound to a job that he should have been promoted out of but that wasn’t possible as the guy in the job above him, the only one he could logistically have gone for, sat in it for over 25 years. Small village in a remote area that my mother and brother and I loved… He wasn’t going to uproot his family for the sake of career progression. But he could have. So I hear what you’re saying, and I feel what you’re feeling… xx


  2. So beautiful, so poignant…
    My dad isn’t a migrant, but in the 1970s good jobs were hard to come by, and Dad had to take some horrid jobs to pay the bills (turkey farming, munitions factory), so this piece really spoke to me x


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