Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Finally, I thought it was time to have a Flickr account - as if a facebook, twitter, blog aren't enough to connect me socially :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The man with one arm

Spring has finally arrived. It has been warm and sunny. Blue skies. Gentle breeze. Yesterday was one such day. We got home from school, Chip played outside for a while and then we decided to go out for some pizza and a carousel ride at the mall. BigGeek had gone out for dinner, so it was just mother and son.

The mall where we live, has an indoor play area. Chip loves to play there and yesterday was no exception. While he played amongst other four and five year olds, I answered some long due emails and all my attempts to take my mind off work failed miserably. I sat down, head bent, shoulders hunched, peering at my phone, punching away on the tiny keys while all around me the mall was alive. Kids played, harried mothers relaxed with a latte and families milled in and out of stores – arms laden with shopping bags.

I didn’t know how long we were. I was engrossed in work, Chip in play. I looked up when I heard a wail. A small toddler had lost his balance and tripped while running on the balance beam. I smiled to myself as nostalgia flooded me. The boy’s mother walked over and laughed and helped the boy up. I noticed then they were Indian. The young mom was dressed simply. A polyester orange salwar suit on a tall lean frame, wisps defiantly escaping the braided hair. Thin black rimmed glassed slipping on the nose. She talked to the boy, but as two year olds are known to do, he sulked. Brows furrowed, he dug his heels till the mother led him away to where she was sitting with the boy’s father.

As she went and sat next to her husband and narrated the short incident, he smiled and laughed and patted the boy on his head. I could see the boy and his father, but could not hear them. The father seemed to be urging the boy to go and play. He patted his son’s head, then his shoulder. Then pulled the boy towards him and tickled him. The boy laughed. I looked at the ordinary scene, but something looked odd. I couldn’t put a finger on it. I turned to look down at my phone and then it suddenly struck me. I looked up again and there it was. The father had only one arm. Through the plaid half sleeved shirt, I could see the stub of what could have been his right arm clearly. His left hand tickled his son and until the boy laughed, his sorrow of a minute ago forgotten.

Thousand and one questions raged through my mind. What did the father do? How had he lost his arm? Was it before he was married or after? If it was before why did the child’s mother marry him? Was it pity, bravery or just love? If it was after, how did she cope with such a loss? How did he cope? His day to day activities? What did he do for a living? He looked like a professional. IT? How did he type on the keyboard with just one hand? How had they as a couple found acceptance? Found the strength? It was impossible to miss the quiet serenity on the young couple’s face.

I saw them as they looked indulgently at their son who had gone back to play on the balance beam. He spread out his arms and took one careful step and then another, and another. A minute later,the little boy reached the end of the beam and jumped down in triumph. The father looked on with pride and put his only arm on his wife’s shoulder and pulled her close, joy illuminating their eyes. Everything was right with the world.

Edited to add: Apologies for a huge gap between the posts. I changed jobs last month and it has been rather adventurous, to say the least!!