Our home is littered with corpses of umbrellas. Like the mice which followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin, we have them in all shapes and sizes – large, thin, fat, small, black, grey, blue. Yet, at the nth hour, when the clock is relentlessly ticking towards the ‘school bus is almost here’ zone, and my son has to be dropped to the gate in torrential rain, not one comes up to scratch. In desperate hope I open a few and try them, a daily ritual, but as expected, not one works. Finally, I settle for the least ungainly one.
What is wrong with our umbrellas, you may ask. My most coveted one, a black and sleek grandfather umbrella, has got that one flaw which no self-respecting umbrella must have – tiny holes! Agreed, the holes are very tiny, but kind of defeats the purpose, right? My second large umbrella, the grey one, is a stout fellow, and is currently the only half-decent one I have. But it is also a shabby one. The paint has peeled off the grip, and it presents a sorry sight. No sane person would like to be seen holding this one. But my ego has been relentlessly squashed these past rainy days, and I am beyond lofty feelings like pride and dignity. I carry the grey one to the gate every day, my mood mirroring its dull colour.
Now, I have this really fancy umbrella. It’s a brilliant black, Star Wars umbrella, and was my dear son’s choice. It’s shaft is a light sabre with a little button to turn the light on or off, which my son convinced me is most essential when we walk down a dark alleyway on a rainy night. Well, he’s surely watching too much Netflix. I must have been either drugged or in some stupor to have bought this one, because it cost me an arm and a leg.
I bought this from the John’s Umbrella shop at Goa airport. This is the famous John’s kuda (Malayalam for umbrella) one sees advertised heavily on Malayalam channels. We were returning from Goa on the cusp of monsoons, and this seemed like just the right thing to take back with us to Mumbai. Reluctantly eschewing the more sane options, I got persuaded to buy it. Within days, its light was flickering and fading, and one of the ribs was bent. So much for the famous brand. I have a good mind to write them a strong email about it!
My umbrella saga doesn’t end here. We have a brilliant blue umbrella, with a classy wooden handle. Now, this was bought from outside Amarson’s shop on Warden Road. This was supposed to be my personal umbrella, the one I would grow old with, sheltering me from life’s vicissitudes. Just that, within days, the shutting mechanism failed, which means, the umbrella opens with a flourish, but can’t be shut! It has spawned many jokes in the household, and I am heartily tired of it. After multiple repairs, there is tentative truce – we are able to shut it. It has now been kept in the car. In a way, it has been semi-retired.
I thought maybe the ill luck plaguing us had to do with large umbrellas. So we adopted a small umbrella, a really good, automatic one. It gave us much joy that we could save the enormous labour involved in manually opening it. My son had a field day with it. And now it lies disemboweled, all sorts of wires sticking out of it. We have decided to throw it away, with much sadness.
Are we to blame for this state of affairs? I don’t think so. I think the umbrella fairy has simply deserted my family. I know I should start afresh. Throw away the non-functional umbrellas. And look for that one umbrella which will serve us well, and long. There must be an ideal umbrella somewhere, just waiting for me to claim it. I will find it. Even if it takes me a monsoon or two…:-)