Short Story: My Mother

cindrella slippers

One fine day, I decided to try out my mom’s shoes – a pair of high heeled white pumps. She always kept them hidden at the back of her closet in a velvety box. Those were her prized possessions. She said that Dad got them for her as a Christmas gift, and she had fond memories of it, wearing them and dancing the night away with Dad to the tune of “Singing in the rain!” After Dad passed away, she would keep telling me the story every night, of how she felt like Cinderella and her glass slippers. I remember listening to her, enraptured by the entire tale. I wanted to try them out, but I couldn’t. Why? You see I was a little boy and boys don’t wear pumps or any other kind of silly ‘girly’ shoes. On one hand, I would gaze adoringly at the shoes as they were lovingly placed by Ma in that box. On the other hand, I had to pretend to be a ‘masculine’ boy, one who was strong and powerful, not delicate like the girls. I saw that boys who were weak were taunted as ‘Fairies’ by the neighbourhood kids.

I did not want that to happen, so I never told anyone about it, not even to my best friend Jimmy. Playing in the dirt, fighting are what boys do! So, I grew up, pretending to be this strong, silent person – a Man, always asserting my ‘power’ in front of others. And never doing any ‘girly’ stuff.

But now that Ma is gone too, I slip into her house and open the door of her closet, to retrieve my ‘treasure’. As I slip on those shoes, sparkly white ones, I feel strange. My legs are no longer ungainly and heavy, they feel sophisticated and light. I look at myself in the mirror. Me, a 45 year old man who works in the timber industry, wearing heavy overalls, an ugly coat, and dirty jeans and then…. the broad feet encased in those lovely white shoes.

I feel a lightness in my heart and as I stood there, warm memories of my mom come flooding back to me – of her warmth, her love and her beautiful smile, of her comforting hug when I felt sad.

Suddenly I feel a lump in my throat and …. wait a minute … is that a tear rolling down my face? I … I cry and I cry harder, letting go of all my ‘manly’ inhibitions; feeling closer to my mom than ever. Does that make me any less a man than I am? Or does it make me a woman? Am I supposed to be embarrassed?

You know what, I am not ashamed that I cried, crying hasn’t made me any less of a man than I am right now… I am happy and I feel free… free to be anyone… not a man or a woman .. but to be myself… a complete human being!

Kaushiki Das
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