Maybe in the first world country, before a baby is born the social services people give a checklist of things which a good parent may require for parenting, in India we get no such checklist but what we lack in social structure we make up for in advice from fellow Indians. Parents flock in huge numbers to meet the would be parents and give their hard earned advice to them. Always keeping a pair of shoes handy is one such advice, the one essential thing to maintaining a good obedience level in the house. Ask any child brought up in India, they shall reminsesce about their encounters with their parent’ shoes. How any insolent remark or excessive tantrums earned them a sharp blow on their mortal body with the classic shoes . Over time, this mode of disciplining the kid has also undergone industrialization . For example, shoes with spiky soles that leave a greater blow and scar on the child, as a reminder for life have long replaced the simple flip-flops, which to the child’s relief used to be less exacting and more tolerable. Even now, the terror on a child’s face can be discerned easily when their parents point towards their shoes, in a moment of truth, their entire life flashes before their eyes and most children alter their lifestyle in an attempt to stop the shoe from rising and landing with a thud on their cheeks.
Or better still, there is the act of reverence which involves touching the feet of our elders, more than direct touching of the feet, it involves touching their dirt ridden shoes, in order to show our love from them, with mud, dirt and all. Such fond, dirty memories of shoes.
I digress from the topic. What do my shoes tell about me? That I take no care of my feet, or they may complain that I sometimes jump into rain water puddles just for the fun of it, with no regard for the lizard’s skin that makes up my shoes and also I let my cat chew on it just to let her have the taste of an exotic lizard or crocodile’s skin.
Some corner of my sole, yearns for flashy stilletos and beautiful boots, just to exhibit the feminine aura a girl should have but truth be told, after an hour of walking in high heeled horrors I always kick them away to walk barefoot, lest my toes should fracture and split apart. My daily wear, however is a pair of flats, part boyish and yet wearable. The boyish ruggedness ensures that I can slip it on easily and go on my adventure and these shoes are indifferent to the mud and sand that coats over it, it gets this attitude from its wearer, who cares not for the social dirt flowing over it,whilst outdoors.
As a short statured girl, I have to wear heeled shoes, in order to join the ranks of the long legged lasses. Heels come in a variety of lengths and in the shoe shop, with one look at me, the shopkeeper invariably suggests the higher side of the heel spectrum. However, even though such long heels look uber cool, my shoe cupboard represents a compromise between me and my parents, a mid way between my desire to way long heels and my parents lack of confidence in my ability to walk without tripping in those heels. So, like my life my shoes are always medium heeled, and like the occasional highs of happiness in life, there are a few high heeled shoes and like the bouts of depression which makes me feel low, there are flats in my closet. Like my life, so my shoes.
As a devout follower of the Hindu culture, it becomes imperative for me to describe the “khadaaon” that even our Lord Rama, wore in days of yore. Till date, it is worn by ascetics and monks to demonstrate the simplicity life can have. It involves holding the wooden slippers between the toe and the next finger of the foot. Hobbling along, holding the slipper against the sole, which demonstrates to me, the essence of life in India. The practice of consciously keeping the footwear against the foot, is like the constant conscious labor that we do in order to ensure that our life is shrouded with comforts.
So, this piece of our fashion has basically risen to a height where it has now become a representative of the lives we lead. It may seem that I have become extra sensitive towards my shoes but no this does not in any way mean that I am cleaning that sticky mess from my shoes.