It was his 17th birthday and my timid and shy young son was slowly growing up to be a fine young man. Over the years, a lot had changed. Earlier, as a boy, he would grip my hand a little firmer when we crossed the road. Now he would steer clear and give me a sheepish smile as we walked side by side, crossing the road. He was almost my height now and he seemed to be more and more excited and curious to know if he would possibly grow taller. Every few months, he would suddenly walk up to me, stand beside me and ask his mother or sister to tell him who was taller…I have to admit I would always look forward to being declared as the taller one.
He was almost my height now and he seemed to be more and more excited and curious to know if he would possibly grow taller.
And now, on his 17th birthday, at the shoe store, the usual salesperson who knew us checked his shoe size. The salesperson smiled satisfactorily and told me “He needs a 9,” and went to the storeroom to bring the correct size of shoes. It was only four words, “He needs a 9”. No, it wasn’t the words. It was the edge of the emotions that pierced me along with the words. The store felt small and suffocating and without excusing myself, I hurriedly walked out to get some air. My little boy had grown up and his feet were as big as mine. I thought of his first shoe, which I still have, and how it was smaller than my palm. I thought of how I taught him to tie his laces, and how tiring it was when we would both sit on our haunches, practising and finally falling on to the ground laughing, tired, and frustrated because he could not get it right! I thought of how proud I felt, when, just the other day, I overheard him, admonishing his friend for not wearing polished shoes. “The shoes tell your story,” he said my words and I mouthed them gently with him.
I don’t know why I felt a tinge of sadness. It was almost as if an intruder had broken into the cocoon I had weaved around him and pulled him into the real world, from which I always wanted to save him. It was almost as if I had thought I would battle alone and keep him shielded from the worldly troubles and yet, today, here he was. Standing tall with his father. I walked in with a funny, half happy, half sad mood and there he was strutting around in his size 9 shoes in front of a mirror. As our eyes met, we both smiled at each other’s reflection in the mirror. Happy birthday son, happy birthday.
Keep blowing the Trumpet! This & many more stories await in the pages!