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September 10, 2011

Dear Mr. M:

The rain; it lashes the windowpanes as I write to you on this blackest of nights. Brings back memories of that fateful night, when I mistakenly left my umbrella in that rickshaw, the one that we shared back from work. The pain that night brought me—I can feel its slow, slithery return, rustling towards me through the desiccated leaves of time.

I remember I had been keyed-up due to the myriad jobs at work. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, along came the loss of my umbrella. The anger; the frustration at my own carelessness, which no amount of self-chastisement could quell. The unpleasant prospect of being shrouded by dampness. The exposure to the heartless elements. The feeling of vulnerability. Forgive the oestrogen. It comes from my work, which involves writing about jewellery in a way that should make it crazily desirable to women. As far as the writing itself is concerned, to search for a bigger repository of corn on Planet Earth is likely to be a futile exercise; need I say more.

A few days went by, umbrella-less. Braving the rain. Steeling myself, every time I stepped out. But why didn’t you buy another one, I hear you ask? Did I really need to put myself through this ordeal? Yes, Sir; yes. Because this was the second umbrella I had lost. That too within a span of a month. The guilt would simply not allow me. I deserved to suffer; it served me right for being so careless. The first umbrella, believe it or not, was stolen from one of the poshest nightclubs in the city. Imagine. Why would anyone do such a thing, when it cost less than the price of a beer there? Or did some inebriated fool take it to be his own? And the latter is as possible, considering the gyrating Neanderthals the place teemed with.

I got down before you since my house came earlier. Thankfully, you had the presence of mind—and of course, the decency—to take the umbrella home with you. But I wasn’t to be reunited with my umbrella the next day because it slipped your mind to bring it. After which you promised that you would bring it—for sure—the following day. I waited, patiently. What choice did I have, really?

Next day, you handed me the umbrella, first thing in the morning. But bliss, that elusive fairy, was not to find me beaming like a chimp on charas. It was dismay, instead, that chose to knock on my door. The umbrella, black though it was, wasn’t mine. No way ho zay. Where my umbrella was new, this one was broken in a few places, with dislocated spokes to match. Where mine had a black plastic handle, with a button the colour of mahogany, this one had a grey handle and a black button. The disappointment—it was overwhelming. And since, Mr. M, you were going to take a few days off that day onwards, one would have to make do with this surrogate for a while. You explained that you had three umbrellas lying at home, all similar, and you had picked one at random. Sadly, not mine. Luck of the draw; what else can one say.

The next few days, it rained heavily, and I was out and about in the city. The grey-handled umbrella, while keeping the bulk of the rain out, would always manage to let in some. Leaving me with a persistent dampness. And its broken spokes did not leave much space for joy to kiss my damp parts, either. Woebegone, that was I. The surrogate’s repugnant infirmity made me feel quite in the doldrums. I so missed my own umbrella, with its resplendent plastic mahogany button. It’s unflinching courage in the face of Lord Varuna’s onslaught. But now, the rain from the sky was dwarfed by the salty drops that flowed freely from my eyes, inundating me in a sea of despondency. Must have been the Spirits punishing me for deceiving those silly women about jewellery.

Then a few days later, something happened that would make me look, if only for a short while, at the glass as being half-full.

I was done for the day at office. I got into the lift, and pressed 0; or maybe I didn’t, as someone might have already have been in the lift, I’m not sure. Anyway, as soon as I got out, I realised that I had forgotten the surrogate, in the umbrella rack next to the reception in office. Muttering unparliamentary words, I went back up, took the umbrella from the rack, and headed back towards the lift. The doors were closing—only a few more inches more, and they would have shut completely. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to wait; In a fit of desperation I, in a move that would make an Olympic fencer proud, jabbed the umbrella into those remaining few inches of space, thus preventing the doors from closing. The doors, sensing the obstacle, opened completely—they were of course programmed to do so. Inside the lift were two office colleagues, who were also leaving for the day. One of them, in turned out, was heading home, which was at a place very close to mine. She offered me a lift, and I was happy to accept. So, I ended up travelling back home in the backseat of a sleek black sedan, instead of being jolted out of my sanity inside a rickety rickshaw. This could only have been the work of the Umbrella Gods, Mr. M. As soon as I reached home, I prayed vigorously. And performed an ancient Mayan ritual, complete with dressing in underwear made of banana leaves, lighting bonfire, dancing around it, waving my axe–which I kept handy in my almirah–menacingly in the air, and sacrificing some cold cuts in the freezer to The Deity, all the while uttering reasonably primitive howling sounds, which my neighbour later complained to me about. The fool—what the fulminating fuck did he know about the spiritual realm. *Sneers.

A few days later I was re-united with my own umbrella. But, I was a changed man. The man who had wielded it, only a couple of weeks back, had either died, lost his memory, undergone a complete transformation, or been abducted by aliens. There was this new-found understanding of life. Now the world around me felt richer. More alive. Everything seemed connected, and one.  Funny isn’t it, that I discovered the true nature of the universe, through an umbrella. *Guffaws at this irony; also at the humdrum ending of this letter.

Kind regards,

Mr. K

One Comment
  1. This was such a brilliant read. You write so well. What a pleasure!

    Hope to read a lot more from you.

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