Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Broken Umbrella

Umbrellas are a great invention. They protect us from heat and shade us from wet weather. They bring us closer together. They make bonds.

Some days it was sunny, baking hot, blazing. The other days it would rain. Drizzle would turn into a real drencher. Everyday two kids boarded the school bus from the same spot. These two kids were opposites in many ways. One was quiet, the other one loud. One was extravagant, the other just ordinary. They say that opposites attract. But here one could see no bond. There was an unease in the air. John had everything one could wish fact anything one wanted to indulge in. A passer-by would often hear him as always complaining......sometimes groaning over a broken toy, sometimes grudging over the fact that his friend had something he did not have. Kyla on the other hand was serene. Clad in simple outfit, she would look around herself. She would sometimes observe the sky and sometimes admire the rain drops that fell on her through her broken umbrella. She had no complaints to offer. John would often ask his mom why she brought a broken umbrella. He had two umbrellas and could not in the whole world imagine why anyone would use something that was broken and meant to be discarded. He would never ever do that. What would his friends say, he thought. He also wondered why she carried the umbrella with her everyday....even when it was not raining.

Sometimes he wanted to ask her about the broken umbrella. But they had never talked and Kyla seemed so reserved. He did not know how to approach her. 

One day as usual, the two kids were standing at the bus stop. Their bus was late today. Kyla was late too. It had not occurred to John that it might rain so he did not carry his umbrella with him that day. But it started pouring. At first it was just a sprinkle here and a sprinkle there. It was manageable, John thought. Then, it started pouring a bit more, and bit more than that. John's first thought was to run back home before he was soaked completely. But just as he turned, he saw Kyla approaching. She had her broken umbrella over her. It was broken but could still protect her from rain. She came towards John and asked her to come under the shade. John had heard her voice for the first time. It was sweet, it was calm. John did what he was told. Except for the sputtering of rain drops on the umbrella, there was complete silence in the air. As there was a hole in the umbrella, they got drenched a little bit but Kyla didnt seem to mind at all. 

The bus came. The two kids boarded the bus and for the first time sat together. John thanked her. Kyla nodded and said it was okay. John now mustered all the courage and popped up the question, " Why do you carry a broken umbrella everyday? Why don't you get a new one?" At first Kyla was silent. Then she said, " It is a gift from my dad. He gave it to me on my fifth birthday." " Well, can he not buy you another one?", asked John. "If I ask him, he sure will. He works hard all day just to keep me and mommy happy. But", and Kyla was quiet again. John waited. Kyla said, " but I still remember how he did not have enough money that day but just because he overheard me praying, wishing for a beautiful umbrella, he went out and bought one for me. He was supposed to buy a raincoat for himself as his old one was torn. But he wanted to make me happy. And he wanted to make my day special because he loves me so much. When he came back home that day, he was completely drenched. Wet and dripping, he came to me and asked me to close my eyes. Then he took my hand and put in it my beautifully wrapped surprise. I was overjoyed. I will always cherish this gift of his. He is the best dad in the whole world." " We are not like you John. We buy things because we need them, not because we want them. There is a difference you know.And besides, gifts are special. Because feelings are special." John's heart was pounding. He thought of the many times that he had thrown away gifts because he did not like them. He remembered the times he had misbehaved with his parents for not letting him have his way. He had been so wrong, he felt.

The bus stopped. As the kids got off the bus, John called Kyla. " Can we share your umbrella everyday, Kyla? There seems to be some magic in it. The magic of love maybe?.....Your dad's love for you.....and your love for him.....I don't like my umbrella. It always keeps me cold and aloof."  Kyla smiled a big smile this time. And the two moved on.

No comments:

Post a Comment