Those Freaky Long Umbrellas

Yes! You read that right. Those freaky, long and black umbrellas is what this piece is about. However, limiting the description of the umbrellas to “freaky, long and black” would not do justice to their exact character and appearance.

Let me draw a richer image of the umbrellas. Imagine an umbrella that is black in colour. By black I don’t mean the colour of the night sky. By black I mean the colour that’s darker than the darkest night – a black that’s flawlessly black without any other color disturbing its blackness – a black that’s uniformly and evenly distributed – a black that lives up to its purity of being black. That’s the black I’m talking about. That’s the black that coloured those freaky umbrellas.

Now, coming to the appearance of my characters, all were slightly different from each other. While one had a longer neck hardened by the quality of the wood it was carved out of, the other had a curvier and a more bent neck. While one had a shorter neck, the other had a normal sized neck with a long tail. There were, roughly, four freaky umbrellas. Hence, the description of them four only.

The point of similarity among the freaky umbrellas was their height and their colour. These two traits were exactly the same among them all! And, obviously, the part of them being freaky! They were forever clad in the same attire!

When and where did I first meet them?

My first encounter with them was when I was 5. One encounter led to another. I met them every day at my Grandmother’s house. They stood tall, hanging from the ventilator of her room. All of them stood together, clinging to each other just like two flies cling to each other while mating. It seemed like they would never part. They were stuck to each other!

After school, my mother would send me off to my grandma’s.

In the afternoons, grandma would narrate stories to me hoping that I would fall asleep listening to them. Those stories, however, could never coax me to fall asleep. Instead, ten minutes through the story, I would sense the narration going gibberish and in no time my grandma would be snoring away to glory. Those few hours while my grandma would enjoy her afternoon siesta, I would remain wide awake.

My thoughts, wandering from one thought to another, would then be channeled towards something uncanny. The setting sun would peep through the openings in the ceiling and ventilators. It was on one of these ventilators that the umbrellas stood united. My attention would be riveted on them. I couldn’t help but stare at them. They looked freaky because they were extremely old and their posture, erect. They were older than old. Perhaps, my grandfather had bequeathed them from his grandfather who had bequeathed them from his great-grandfather. These umbrellas were pre-historic yet they were so sturdy. They emanated pride. I mean, why wouldn’t they! They looked like they had survived the forces of time and nature.

I would often wonder if they were hanging there for aesthetic purpose or if they were actually used for the purpose of protection against rain. I guess, they were futile or probably, my grandma was too lazy to get them down for usage.

Those few hours, I not only stared at them but I conversed with them and they conversed with me. They told me stories of themselves. Those few hours, every day, with them were so exciting and scary – exciting because they told me stories which were ten times more interesting than the stories grandma told me. I would often get scared because they weren’t humans, they were objects talking to me – ancient objects talking to me in inaudible voices that only I could fathom.

When overwhelmed by the whole idea of freaky umbrellas narrating stories to me, I would jerk, cover my face with the blanket and pretend to sleep. I would let time pass till my grandma would wake up and wake me up.

This was the regular routine. Eventually, as the days passed, I made peace with the freaky umbrellas. I would stare at them endlessly but I no longer covered my face with the blanket and pretended to sleep. Instead, I remained awake all through those hours while my grandma slept. While my grandma grew older, the umbrellas grew older with her. The mark of age showed on her. She developed creases along her cheeks and her hair grew thinner. The umbrellas, however, remained the same.

As her age told on her, we decided to keep her with us at our house. This meant abandoning the house and abandoning her companions –  the freaky umbrellas.

As I turned 17, I my visits to her declined and her visits increased. I saw less of the freaky umbrellas. Then came that fateful day, when the doors to her house were locked for good. There stood a rusted old lock against the door. My grandma moved in with us. The freaky umbrellas were locked inside, never to be seen again.

Years have passed by. My grandma is growing older and so am I. It’s not something that I do often – think of those freaky umbrellas. They, certainly, haven’t made any difference to my life. They have only left behind an image of themselves in my mind, the image which I can never forget, the image which, today, has prompted me to write about them. Such was the power of the inanimate freaky umbrellas.

I believe that the freaky umbrellas still stand tall, untouched by the forces of time and nature. They must have collected dust which has, definitely, stained their black colour. They must be looking freakier now.