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Beautiful things of life are simple and they are often taken for granted πŸ™‚ We realize the value of a certain thing which might be dear to us after losing it forever or at times when someone else makes us feel its importance.

I gave my little red umbrella few moths back after ten years of “rainy-sunny” relationship with it to Hemant. The red umbrella has been a part of me for the last ten years of hostel life. It has seen me rushing for classes, jumping out into the rains, battling the heat waves in summers and most significantly growing up from an undergraduate to a researcher. It was raining heavily the evening I joined the under-grad hostel in RD Women’s College Bhubaneshwar. I was nervous and sad since it was the first time was leaving home for a new life. We had to rush out of the car to a small shop in the Market building area of Bhubaneshwar to get a few stuffs for the hostel room. It was in that shop that we found the red umbrella, sitting on one of the shelves, bright-gorgeous red, smiling at the customers but waiting for the best one to pick it up πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰ . It was actually so deep red in colour that one had to have the guts to buy the umbrella. But we did! Instantly both papa and I fell in love with it!!! πŸ™‚ … It smiled at us from the shelves, happily waved a goodbye to the shopkeeper and was ready to open its wings and fly into the world waiting outside with both sunny and rainy sides. From thereon we have been together till recently.

I forgot to mention one interesting characteristic of the red umbrella. On one of its flaps there are many-many painted golden smiley-suns. So, when one opens the umbrella the suns will smile at once πŸ™‚ ….The practical advantage of these suns are that they are kind of birth-marks, identification symbols of the umbrella. It doesn’t get stolen or lost easily because of these suns. Who will dare to steal it? πŸ˜‰ It remains with you wherever you go or wherever you leave it.

In post-grad and M.Phil days I was identified in the campus by the umbrella. Dressed up in a red dress, red shoes, red lipstick πŸ˜‰ and red clips πŸ™‚…walked with pride with my little red umbrella πŸ™‚ . In the summers when I walked with the umbrella, a very soothing red-shadow coloured the face, giving it a fine blush. In the rains, when transparent rain drops fell on its surface, the umbrella would smile back at the clouds daring them to pour down even more. I remember on 4th September 2002, I was carrying the umbrella to the hospital where grandpa was waiting for his last moments. Aunty was also wearing a bright red coloured dress–same as my red umbrella. The umbrella smiled at grandpa and he smiled back at it and said to us in a shivering voice: “life is that red in colour–bright and smiley and is meant to be enjoyed. It is not of the dull grey colours (someone else in that room was wearing a dull grey shirt)… everywhere there is god and he smiles. Those were his last words.

When I came to IIT Bombay for PhD, during the coursework phase I tried to behave a little intelligent and would visit the library late nights. It was the flash flood year and everywhere umbrellas were in high demand. One night, I went to the library with the red umbrella but left that on one of the library shelves. It was time for the library to be closed and everyone was hurrying out. Lights had been turned off and the staff and security had already started leaving. I too hurried out and forgot all about the existence of the umbrella in my life. Suddenly, the moment I came out of the library, my tube-light mind went twang!!! Oh gosh! I had left the umbrella in the shelves. Before anyone, including the security realized what went wrong… I was scooting down the library shelves like a biker. The librarian rang the alarm, everyone was running behind me, security was summoned, lights were turned on, librarian and the library staff were running to catch me, I was stopped but nothing would stop me…It was a chaos!!! Finally, I located the little red umbrella sitting on one of the shelves along with Foucault and Derrida, smiling back relaxedly at me. I kissed the umbrella and was happy. Then, it was my turn to be embarrassed. The librarian, security and staff were close on my heels. One of them asked me: “B.Tech first year?I nodded in negative… “M.Tech first year?” “No” … “Then??” I replied calmly: “No PhD first year!” πŸ˜› and walked away with the umbrella.

Three years have passed and have lost and found the umbrella many-many times in IITB…

Few months ago I saw Hemant going around in the rain without an umbrella. He was frustrated and angry. He has bought at least 12 and lost all 12 umbrellas. He had lost one of his umbrellas the day before. πŸ™‚ There was a sad look on his face and he said that he will not buy another umbrella. I decided to give him mine. He was overjoyed to see the red umbrella and was simply delighted like a child. Additionally, I thought that need to reduce over attachment towards material possessions. So, finally I gave my red umbrella to him with a barter-trade of a beautiful Chinese floral umbrella. I lost the Chinese umbrella in no time though. Don’t know where it went but just got lost somewhere.

However, he still carries it — keeps loosing it and forgetting it, but the umbrella funnily returns back to him every time and smiles at him like it did at me. Being a researcher he often calculates the probability of the umbrella being stolen…and he says the probability of not losing it approaches to 0.9. πŸ˜‰ …whatever that is! πŸ™‚ (I am very poor in maths πŸ™‚ ) … Interestingly, these days he has publicized the red umbrella so much that the thing is a star now! Many of his colleagues are buying red umbrellas but they are sad that these umbrellas don’t have the suns which the little red umbrella had.

The umbrella has become a little squeaky and tired now with life’s wear and tear…it has also lost some luster of its earliest days, but it makes everyone happy when it opens its flap and goes out in the sun and rain confidently.

The little red umbrella is simple, ordinary, you may see many such umbrellas everyday…yet it bonds and that’s what its beauty is in πŸ™‚ .

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