Only recently did I realize how much skill, poise and perfect timing are required for the graceful handling of an umbrella. Sadly, I am yet to possess any of these virtues and as a result, whenever I have used an umbrella, I have rarely benefitted from it. Whenever there was harsh sunshine and I opened my umbrella, I reached home tanned. Whenever there was rain and I opened my umbrella, I reached home drenched. Anyway, and whenever there was someone on the street I tried to avoid and I opened my umbrella to shield my face from, the person invariably called, ‘Hi Rashmi!’ I owe all this to the way the erratic umbrella behaves, some of which I list below.
The Praying Umbrella: It is that behaviour of an umbrella when, at the time when I require it the most over my head during a heavy rain along with wind, the umbrella itself decides to say a prayer to save it from getting wetter, by raising its spokes heavenwards, as I would raise my arms. In the process, the whole umbrella closes upwards and I am left holding the handle.
The Cup Umbrella: Almost like the Praying Umbrella, here too the erring spokes reverse but doesn’t shut down completely. They rather open the wrong way up, to stay like a cup over the head and collect all the rainwater only to drop all of it on me when the cup can no longer hold the free flowing water.
The Garfield Umbrella: Now this is the one that refuses to open when I am on the verge of alighting from a car or a bus or whatever. One of my feet is already on the ground and I press and pull whatever knob or lever releases the roof of the umbrella, but the release doesn’t happen and the umbrella remains obstinate as ever in its intentions. And all the while, the wind keeps sending rainwater into the vehicle, to the annoyance of those sitting inside. At other times, the Garfield Umbrella refuses to close down when I am on the verge of boarding a bus, a car or...
The Coconut Palm Umbrella: This is an obedient folding Umbrella where the foldable stick elongates the moment you press the open button. And the obedience ends here. The roof of the umbrella refuses to open up and sits hugging itself at the top of the stick, bent over two-three folds up there, looking like a coconut palm.
The Tortoise Umbrella : This is that unpredictable behaviour of the prankster umbrella which, after behaving oh-so-well and protecting me from rain and sun for a while, suddenly decides to play a prank and closes down with my head inside. And I swagger momentarily.
The Nargis Umbrella : The credit for this umbrella behaviour, however, goes not to the umbrella but to the user. Because here, though the sun beats down upon the face from the front or the rain pours down upon the head from above, yet the user holds the umbrella to protect herself from neither sun nor rain. She rather supports the umbrella’s stick on her shoulder and holds the roof like a knapsack upon her back. No, that’s not all. She then also twirls the stick from time to time, making the umbrella go whirr like a Ferris wheel upon her back. Just the way Nargis did while romancing Raj Kapoor!
Since at this age I no longer hope to enhance my learning skills and gain newer virtues to use an umbrella with grace, I sign off here to go and buy me a raincoat instead. To protect myself from the rain. As for protection from the sun, (I am allergic to sunscreen and hats!) I look forward to your suggestions...!