On the eve of my first birthday, while my parents contemplated a suitable gift for me, I suggested to them that they get me a good pair of shoes. You see, I started walking at the age of 11 months, and while I was perfectly happy walking bare feet within the house, I had started venturing outdoors too. To begin with, I had been using a pair of well-worn, hand-me-down shoes, gifted by my friend, Rayansh, who was one of my first friends in Ivory Coast. But once I started spending more and more time on my feet outdoors, it was time to get fitted with a pair of swanky, new shoes.
So on a fine weekday afternoon, after I had napped and snacked, Mum, my nanny and I headed to a nearby mall. What was supposed to have been a quick task extended for the next two hours, as the perfect pair of shoes continued to elude us.
At the first store, there were shoes in every size except mine. Moreover, they seemed to be particularly fond of stocking pretty shoes with flowers and ribbons; something that did not quite suit my taste. The next store had a pair of sturdy grey shoes. Under my Mum’s careful scrutiny, I strutted around the shop, allowing her to conduct a careful analysis of the pair’s usefulness and comfort. They were a smart pair, no doubt, as my nanny was quick to point out, but they were finally rejected by Mum when she sensed that their stiff exterior was not allowing me to sit and stand up with ease.
We ventured into a third store, which had the most expensive shoes so far. After several pairs were worn and rejected, I decided to busy myself with the more interesting task of playing with some cello tape I had managed to get my hands on. My nanny meanwhile, passed her phone camera to the sales lady, who then proceeded to conduct an elaborate photo-shoot for the willing model.
Exasperated at my nanny’s and my disinterest in the task at hand, Mum took it upon herself to make a decision. She finally chose a pair of soft, malleable slip-ons in blue and white. They were either available in size 20, which was a bit small for me, or size 23, which was way too big. On enquiring the price, my Mum declared that if she was going to be spending a bomb on a tiny pair of doll-like shoes, she’d rather pick something that would last two months rather than two weeks.
The money was paid, the shoes were packed and with a cheerful ‘Bye’ to the sales-woman, I waddled out of the shop. But Mum was not yet content. When Papa came home from office that night, Mum set him to the task of cutting a pair of extra soles to fit within my new shoes. He did a thorough task of it and with a bit of cotton stuffed in the front, the same pair of shoes fit me much better!
I was about to praise my parents for their resourcefulness and smart-thinking, when Mum confided in me that it was something her father used to do for her and her siblings too! Guess some things just pass on from generation to generation. On that note, I wonder if my Grampa too wore over-sized shoes fitted with soles, when he was a kid. I’ve got to ask him the next time I see him!
Watch a video snippet of the shoe shopping excursion on my exclusive YouTube channel, ‘Diary of a One Year Old’:
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.