I love her. I’ve been with her through thick and thin and all the in-between times too. It was love at first sight for her, but not so much for me. In fact I thought she was too quiet and mousy. I did feel a slight thrill when she zeroed in on me, and came right up to where I was. I resolutely looked the other way, trying to find someone more fun and sporty. But she was determined and I just couldn’t ignore the beautiful glow on her face when she looked at me. We ended up together that day.
Initially she preferred to keep her life separate from me. I did my stuff and she went her way. Those were tough days and I really wondered why we moved in together. I was the outdoorsy kind and she liked to spend more time at home. I didn’t even know what she did for a living since she would disappear after a hasty breakfast of toast and coffee. After staying out the whole day, she would drag herself back home and end up curled on the couch with a book for company. Some days I knew she was feeling lonely, since a strange restlessness seemed to come over her. I started taking her for walks. We pounded the streets and went wherever we felt like; through crowded alleys filled with the sounds and colours of life, on beautifully maintained walkways with gently strolling folks, on the beach with its invigorating smell of salt and distant lands, and finally when we returned disheveled and exhausted she would be smiling again.
Gradually I started to know her better. She had the most awful off-key voice but the gusto with which she belted out songs filled our little apartment with happiness. She hated sentimental movies and scared herself senseless watching horror. I saw my little mouse transforming into a tiger while watching action films; cushions went flying during fights on-screen and a manic glint lit up her eyes. She loved her coffee strong and sweet, but not very hot. Mornings were her favourite time of the day and some days we sat in companionable silence on the balcony –she gazing at the morning sunlight filtering through the leaves and me gazing at her. I had fallen in love with this girl who had a quiet strength, an endearing zest for life and who was a genuinely good person. She didn’t have too many friends, but had a wonderful relationship with her parents and siblings. I loved to listen in on her conversations with them, she visibly seemed to become softer and her spirits were always up afterwards.
One night I saw her sitting up late to catch up on some work and only then realized that she was an illustrator for children’s books. Her fingers created magic on paper, a swirl here and a couple of smudges there and I could see a little boy with dust smeared clothes looking wide–eyed at a fantastical creature hovering in the air. She was totally dedicated to her work and conjuring up fantasy on paper was her passion.
After a year of life together, I became aware of an unhappiness within her. By then we had understood each other well and were well versed in reading the contours of our relationship. Her calls to her parents became sporadic and even when they called I could see the forced cheerfulness on her face. We were together quite a lot during those dark days. She was always on the move, and I’ve never walked so much in my life. A bit strenuous for me but I went along to keep her company.
I remember very clearly the day she took that decision. It was raining and quite windy. I thought she would feel worse with the lack of sunshine and the dark clouds. But it was such a pleasure to see a smile flitting on her face. The dark circles under her eyes seemed to have lessened overnight. I could feel the spring in her step. Armed with a huge umbrella, we set out. We came to a huge old house which seemed to be some kind of establishment. She didn’t want me to go in with her and I stayed outside.
I waited impatiently for what seemed like hours, and when I thought that she had abandoned me, I saw her walk out with a bundle of clothes in her arms and the most amazing smile on her face. All her attention was on what she held, and she even forgot me ! When a smattering of raindrops fell on her two things happened at once; she jumped back with a start, becoming aware of her surroundings, and the most aggrieved wail erupted from the bundle. When she turned back to me, I saw her clasping a tiny infant to her heart, as if it was the most fragile and precious thing in the world.
That was the beginning of the rest of our life together. We have been through sleepless nights and stressful days, but the chortles of laughter and sticky kisses made up for that. I’m still with her and I look forward to seeing the lil one grow up. I can only hope that she doesn’t discard me when she gets a replacement. After all, shoes are really not that hard to get.
(Memoirs of a Shoe)