a writing by Satheesan Rangorath

My Stories- More stories about my footwear

Before going further into my school days, I think I have some more stories to tell about my shoes and slippers. The reader may think it is silly. As for me, it is pathetic and quite embarrassing. In my last blog, I mentioned about my fist whole new shoe and its metamorphosis. Afterwards my father did not bother about my foot care. Before starting ith my school stories the shoe stories seems to be haunting my mind. When thinking about shoe I think I never had a shoe until I started earning myself. Yes, it was my strong desire and dream to wear a whole new Chinese Pointed (Cow Boy) shoe especially bought for my use. It never had happened during my school or college days.

In those days school children used to join in Boys scouts and Auxiliary Cadet Corps (ACC) a national programme for schoolchildren. I was very much interested in volunteering into the programme. I joined unmindful of the consequences. The military man who visited school encouraged me to join and had appreciated my smartness during
the orientation drill. I was selected into the group and was pleased with myself for getting selected. But my enthusiasm did not last long and got dampened as I was told that I should procure my Khaki Uniform, cap and shoes at my expense. This was something unexpected and later I realized that I made a mistake by joining the programme. My father and mother did not approve. This story should have been written much later, in the order. However, my cravings for shoes give priority in my thoughts. With many recommendations from my grandma and mother, my father budged and bought me some Khaki clothes for one uniform. Cap was provided from the school. Whistle line had to be made which I managed from a policeman he gave me his old whistle chord. Shoes still made problem. I attended several parades without a shoe. Instructor and my fellow cadets made fun of me. I was helpless. One-day .A.C.C Instructor told me I would be evicted from the programme unless I come to the next parade with a shoe. Therefore, I thought that is the end of the road for me regarding training programme. I did not attend parade for a number of days However; my plight was brought to the attention of my grandma, who advised my father for a shoe for me. He did not say, Yes or No. After a month when he came on vacation he had given me a canvas shoe, which he had fished out from his school, it was a big shoe having a size of Eight, obviously I cannot wear that. To my little feet. But my grand ma encouraged me to wear it, but I took it and showed to my instructor and said I cannot wear it because my feet is sore due to a wound. Therefore, he allowed me to attend parade.

He asked me to come with full uniform as Independence Day celebrations is coming. Therefore, there will be a march past. This time I have no excuse. On the eventful day, I wore the canvas shoe, which is projecting about 4 inches ahead of my feet. I wore it graciously by stuffing it with some papers and clothes, and fitted my feet. I made a secret of it to my self as I do not want to reveal it to my friends how I am wearing it and wanted to avoid funny Jokes from them. The secret remains with me until I wrote it here.

The incident about my foot protection is about a slipper. In those days, my uncle was working in Bahrain. He used to come on vacation every three years break. On one such occasion, he presented a lady's slipper to my mother. Which was a nylon strapped slipper. It was very beautiful; when he presented it to her; I had an eye on it. I was in college during That time. I was attending the college bare feet. Oh yes I had a torn and worn out shoe From my uncle which I had shelved from him when he was about to throw away. I used the same technique as before I had done to fit in canvas shoe. The worn out shoe was kept for Occasions like college socials. My mother’s slippers encouraged me to wear pants to my college as I can wear her slippers. Which she often opposed, but some how I managed.
However, kept away from the sight of girls in my class.

Another shoe story of mine comes flooding into my mind is a football boot. I was very fond of football. I used to play in college bare footed in forward position. I was good in playing attacking football. My teammates liked my play and often the team I played used to win the match. Playing bare foot could not last long I can be selected into college team only if I have a boot to wear. In order to secure selection I tried to procure a second hand boot, which, one of my teammates was willing to sell for me at a price of Rupees fifteen. It was a huge amount as far as I am concerned. However, I decided to put the matter to my father’s attention through my grandma, she introduced the subject to my father. For which he replied with a gruff in negative and said if he wants let him take the money that he had kept of buying food ration for the week and make every one starve. I kept silent and returned football boot to my friend and said I am out of the team.

The next foot ware story is something nostalgic .My whole new foot wear, a rubber slipper came to me when I was about to leave my village after my graduation from the college. I was about to leave to Rajasthan (A North Indian state on north western part of
Indian Sub-continent.).As usual, my grandma came to my rescue by giving some money to buy a slipper for my journey. I bought a rubber slipper as she advised. This helped me a lot in the hot and winter climate of north India.My story about slippers and boots will not be complete unless I tell another story too, which was very embarrassing and shameful for my ego. During one of my college vacations, my uncle asked me to visit him for few days. He was working as Assistant Manager in Shaw Wallace and company, a British company. I was supposed to help him in the office accounts as part time hire. I happily accepted the offer. He was working in a hill station called Ootacamund. A modern hill station. I never had traveled alone before,Therefore, my father decided he would accompany me to the town. We took a bus to the nearest town; from there we had to take a long distance bus to the city. When we reached the base town all the buses to the city had left and no buses were available until next day morning. instead of taking a lodge and stay over night, my father decided to look out for a truck which is Moving towards Ootacamund. He found one going to that side which was carrying sand to the city. We decided to sit on the top and travel. It was very cold and sitting on sand made it more severe. Past midnight, we reached city and got down. Finding out my uncle’s residence is out of question, so we stayed in a cheap accommodation, which I will not forget all my life. The magnanimity of dirt and filth in that room is not explainable with my pen. I passed time Waking up all night and some how managed to survive until dawn. In the morning, we set out. The winter was severe. The streets had a deserted look in the freezing mist. Cold wind was blowing I had no sweater or a slipper. Every step I took with pain and effort,as my feet got frozen and senseless due to cold..

My father was wearing leather footwear, which he had offered me to wear. However, I refused concerning about his feet. Some how we found out my uncle’s residence...
We knocked his door and surprised him. He was bit aghast to see my father along with me. He welcomed us with a grin. In addition, shouted at me for not wearing footwear and embarassed his room mates as he was staying as a batchelor. I said I forgot to take from home. I do not know whether he believed me or not. This incident becomes an unforgettable incident in my life.
By Satheesan Rangorath

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