Out into the world

The school bus arrived right on time, its yellow color glimmering in the fog as though assuring the world that the sun would rise again.  Her older daughter quickly raced to the bus leaving her younger sister behind as the younger one eagerly raised her arms for a hug.  Still standing by the roadside she watched the large stop sign on the bus slowly swing back and the bus meandered away into the traffic.  She hoped her children would be safe for the next seven hours away from her sight.  As she turned to walk back home the white tennis shoe raised its moist nose up from the grass in greeting.  The grass had engulfed the heel like a snake in the midst of swallowing its prey.  She wondered who the owner was, was the shoe thrown away on purpose?  Did they lose their shoe while running away from danger?

The right side of the shoe had a large crack, an old wound on the otherwise smooth plateau.  There were bits of mud and grass stuck on the crack like dried cakes of blood.  One end of the shoelace hung dangerously towards the ground holding onto dear life, she wondered where the sister the other end of the lace was.  Her eyes roamed aimlessly around trying to find her, only to see her curvy back as she slid into the dark interior of the shoe.  She did not blame her for leaving her sister behind knowing that they would always be together like conjoined twins in the middle.  The raised top of the heel stood guard like a mother waiting to strike in case of any danger.  Lowering her eyes from the mother, she noticed a little pool of stark dirty water gathered inside the shoe.  A ripple circled in jest on the surface sending a cold wave down her spine, was there something swimming in there?  The dangers out here seemed endless and she wondered if the other shoe had suffered the same fate.

She sighed contentedly knowing that her older daughter would always take care of her younger sister after all is that not what she had always done.  The left side of the shoe was intact as though it had survived any scathing from the outside world.  Unluckily, treacherous mountains with dark valleys in between had replaced the once smooth plateau this was due to conforming to the wearer’s foot.  The dirty water had dripped on the side like stalactites hanging from in a cave.  With a heavy heart she reluctantly made her way home, hoping the shoe had served its master well and that perhaps it’s time was up.

Turning the corner the sight of the daffodils greeted her, covered up in their cozy blankets waiting for the sun to rise.  She thought about the toddlers all curled up in their bed and a warm smile flashed across her face as she rushed inside to check if they were awake.  After all, she was still a mother to them too.

A High School Memory

I hurried down the stairs carefully like a server with a tray of bed sheets. I mumbled polite ‘hellos’ to my housemates as I joined the queue. “Subi, your pillowcase should be on top” whispered Grace. “Oops!” My knee almost hit my chin as I tried to rearrange the bed sheets, straightening every nook and cranny. I had unfolded, refolded, and super-folded linen several times that night, I was not about to let my efforts go to waste. I had even hidden the frayed corners out of view. When the house matron walked in, she grabbed the bedding off my hand and raised them up to the light, carefully surveying them looking for stains. One would think she was inspecting a fake dollar bill.

Mbinge! What is this? You need to go back and do it again! How many times do I need to show you how to fold?” She shouted as she threw the crumpled heap back at me. I dejectedly grabbed them and picked the thin towel from the floor, glancing at her black socks. I wondered why she always wore black socks. Was she mourning someone? I heard that her husband had passed away several years earlier. Perhaps this was her way of hanging onto that sad memory. On the other hand most of the other matrons wore black socks, maybe that was their trademark, just like the way nannies always have a hat and an umbrella.

I languidly slithered up the stairs, I was not in a hurry like the first trip. Experience had shown that once she rejected the sheets the first time it would take a couple more tries. She finally accepted them and handed over the clean sheets. The neatly folded, shrunk, tattered bed sheets at the bottom. The thin towel with transparent patches in the middle and the small pillowcase at the top.

This time, I went up the flight of stairs briskly, two at a time as I headed to my cubicle. I was certain I could hear applause and cheer on my way. After all, I had successfully done ‘laundry’ that Wednesday night!