Have you ever given it a thought, that what is the single most ubiquitous thing which proves it maximum utility to you come sun, come rain, come hail, and comes now? I bet you haven’t. It is me, your humble umbrella. And though I may seem to be very ordinary, run of the mill stuff, I am known to possess magical powers which may transform a sunny day into pleasant shade, a rainy day into a fun-filled trip and a snowy night into a safe haven.
Now, I am digressing. Coming to my story. I have landed myself in a sleepy hill town in Meghalaya where it rains for about 11 months in a year. It is always wet, slippery and cold but never a dull moment between us. I am found in the house of a little tribal girl over here named Fulu. Mind you, if I say little, do not ever assume that she is diminutive or docile. In fact just the very opposite. She is a livewire, if ever there was one but an extremely hardworking one at that. Life here in the hills is not easy. The mountains are treacherous and the avenues or gainful employment extremely remote. My little Fulu, wakes up at the crack of dawn to collect all the rain water filled in the pots, left outside every night and puts on the fire. The fire takes a long time to burn and lets out a lot of steam and fumes since the wood is still damp. Once the fire is lit, she makes tea, feeds tea and bread to her younger brothers and drinks it herself before taking the flask along with her on her way to school since she would be dropping off the morning breakfast for her parents in the field. She dons the school uniform and never forgets to take me along as she jauntily trips down the mountain lanes to her school, making a short stopover at her parents’ work place in the fields.
Fulu and I are always seen together. I clearly remember the day her father bought it for her on her 6th Birthday. I have never seen Fulu more delighted. This umbrella spelt freedom for her in this wet, dripping corner of the world where being one without meant being confined indoors. Freedom to move around at her will without being daunted by the elements. My colorful visage and my cheerful disposition lifted the clouds over her gloomy days.
We have had many adventures. Last year, her brother fell sick. He needed medicines. Fulu did not have any money and her parents had gone outstation in search of work. Fulu then albeit very reluctantly pawned me off at nearby chemist shop in exchange for some critical medicines. She cried the whole night long. I was despondent and upset at how she could bear to be separated from me. However, she was back at the crack of dawn with a huge lot of loose change she collected from her friends and neighbors before coming to rightfully claim me back. The reunion was the happiest day in my life.
I intend to stay by her side for a long, long, time, at least enough to watch her get educated and make something meaningful out of her life. I am sure it is going to be an interesting journey.