I’d have almost missed them, if it wasn’t for the wee kitten practicing its clawing skills. There was nothing eclectic about them that’d make them stand out in an assortment of flashy, new-age shoes, it was only when one suspended all their disbeliefs were they able to see beyond the ordinariness. Those pair of wellingtons were extra special, they had a bit of a magic in them you see, no wonder they lasted so long to tell the tales of childhood adventures.
In the summer of 1997, I put my foot down and demanded that I’d be given a pair of wellington boots as an early birthday present for all the novels I had read during vacations had proved that it was utterly important for a growing kid my age to have a pair, lest one dared to roam around like a listless wizard sans his staff; many a lunches and desserts were sacrificed for fruition of that one summer dream. And then one day, they magically appeared in a corner of that ancient shoe rack, believe me when I say this, nobody had a clue where they came from, they didn’t have the virginal sheen about them nor they exuded the ravages of time, oh! And they fit perfectly as if molded for me alone. I couldn’t wait for the school to reopen, it was like going back to difficult level in a video game, with better powers and a secret weapon.
In our school, there stood a giant mulberry tree, smack in the middle of the playground as if some alien mothership dropped it by mistake, on the fly. In monsoons, against the background of dark grey plume it looked like a grumpy mad man, flailing his arms around (whipping willow would pale in comparison) ready to scoop up anyone who dared to venture nearby.
The place around it would get flooded, nothing alarming albeit just adult shin-deep water, but for a kid my age it was no less than being stranded in treacherous seas. In a class of sixty kids, I could finally shun my cowardice and wade through that scary bog and come back, pockets filled with rain-washed mulberries; dry and unscathed. That peculiar squelching sound became my signature score, although the only downside was that mother would know when I hadn’t been upto no good, regardless those seemingly ordinary boots made my childish heroism amplify. But, it is only for so long one can go on hoarding things of significant sentimental values, and save a room from becoming a junkyard and thus I had to part ways with my favorite pair of boots, many a tears were shed and discreet foot binding attempts made. Even then I knew their smell and sounds would never escape my mental mathom drawer.
A huge wave of torrential nostalgia washed over me as I saw my niece squiggle her tiny feet into the jolly gaping faces of those boots, and boy did they seem excited to set in motion yet another childish adventure.