This post is written for A prompt each day’s Prompt 60 – Fotowrite #5
He stood there for a minute.
His wife had already rushed inside the main gate, and was now safely under the stately porch of the towering building. She did not want their son to get viral fever due to the drizzling. The watchman was getting the luggage unloaded.
He still stood there. Looking at his feet. They were so big now. There was a time when his foot fit right in the grill.
He wanted to smile, remembering swinging from the gate to-and-fro waiting for Papa to come home in the evening. But no smile came. Hey, THIS wasn’t the same…
Agree, this towering building was what he had dreamt of living in – during the days when random strangers would come right inside the garden unlatching the gate themselves, asking for his Papa. They had a convenience store and the bungalow. People would often come home in the evenings even after the shop had closed, to ask for random stuff like gehu or daal and his Papa gave it to them without complaints.
“We don’t have holidays in our profession son. And work never ends. Besides what is the effort in giving a few kgs from bags stored at home,” he used to say.
He did not like this. They had no holidays. So they had no vacation.
He spent his summer vacations swinging from this gate. There were so many nuances to that. Going straight to the wall inward from the left side, jumping to the right one just as the left one rebounded back to its position and then swinging the right one outwards. Sometimes climbing right to the top while the gate was swinging and jumping on the wall. That required skill, you know! The neighbour kid Gura got 2 stitches on the eye-brow having fallen from the wall in the process. He also had his share of falls. But the gate was kind to him. He usually fell only in the monsoons.
He continued to swing from the gate even in his teens. People laughed at him. Papa chided him. “You are grown-up now, Beta. Stop this childishness.”
Little did everyone know, this was his thinking spot. He did not only swing from the gate. He deliberated on his ideas. Ideas of climbing the rungs of the financial ladder just as he did the diagonal rung of the gate. He memorised his trigonometric formulae there. So much so that beside eating, sleeping and school – he was always at this very spot. Well, twice in a swing cycle.
He did not derive it, but he did something which propelled him into the outside world from the pendulum-like swinging of the gate. He cracked the IIT entrance. All by himself.
He landed a plum job in the Silicon Valley in the IT boom period. Meanwhile the town grew into a city. He could notice several new faces on the way home when he came back for the first time. The gate was good then. Rusty at the hinges, but still holding strong.
His father was waiting for him with two proposals. One was for marriage to a girl his friend had suggested and another to sell their bungalow to build a 21 storey tower where the bungalow stood then. He agreed to both.
The girl was affable, he could talk to her, he could laugh with her. That is all he wanted, he did not need to think. It was love at first meet!
He was surprised over how much time he took for the other decision. He took a month – evaluating his own career prospects vis-a-vis the prospects of earning from the building. But he knew he was deceiving himself. The main reason he did not want the old bungalow gone was because he could not bear the thought of having to let the creaky gate go!
He finally agreed. His father had shut shop by then. The builder was an old friend of Papa’s who kept his end of the bargain and gave them the penthouse to live in, when the building was completed.
When he came back, 3 years later, he had it all. In the U.S.
Papa had refused to come to the States, ‘cos he liked it here. He had seen the building plans and the pictures, but nothing had prepared him for such a magnificent structure which stood where his bungalow was. The new entrance was around the turn, so the old gate stood where it was. It was the rear gate now, only watchmen and casual loiterers used it to exit in the dark single-road lane, which was quite a buzzing lane in its hey days. He had made the car stop there, and got off, leaving his wife puzzled.
He was still looking at his feet. He lifted his right foot to the first gap of the grill. The end of his toes barely got through. He shook his head at the futility of even trying it. But then his eyes went a little forward. And twinkled. The *#%@$^* gate had broken itself for him!!
There was a missing rod in it. Within a second, he put his foot in the gap, and pushed the gate. It went forth and rebounded and just as it neared the wall, he fell in the mud puddle which formed under due to the incessant drizzling since days.
She noticed it, handed their son to Papa, who had just come downstairs on being told by the watchman, and started walking in an agitated pace out of the main gate towards the old gate. She was muttering something under her breath, Papa was busy pacifying the baby. And he lay in the puddle with eyes closed. Even the hair soaked now.
She came there, Jimmy Choo sandals in hand (to save them from being ruined by the mud, not what you think!). “What are you doing? You got this 3 piece custom made! Why did your friend have to get married the day we land here?! Why did you have to swing at this ungodly hour?! And how can you slip? They’re leather shoes!”
But he did not listen. He was just listening to the harmonious creaking of the pendulum. He held her hand, which she had held up for him to get up – other still clutching the Jimmy Choos, and pulled her to the ground. The beautiful blue chanderi was now soaked in mud, as was its wearer. She looked at him in disbelief – one moment she was standing, the other she was lying in the mud puddle, beside him.
He looked mischievously in her eyes. “You think I slipped?”