By Purva Desai:
I am a working-class woman who strives day in and day out to cook chapattis for my family, bread and butter exceed our means. For us, travelling by rickshaw is a luxury. My day usually starts with a train journey. That day, there was some construction work going on at the station. People said an escalator is being built in the station. I couldn’t even spell the word properly, so didn’t pay much heed to it, thinking that it must be rich people’s business.
That night, I was a little anxious. I usually fall asleep easily after my hectic daily chores. But that night, I felt no sign of drowsiness. What I was trying was to remember was ‘escalalr’ and trying to gauge its meaning.
By morning, I was totally drowsy. I was just about to fall asleep when the alarm rang. In a sleepy mood, I walked like a zombie to the station. There was a huge line near the thing that was under construction earlier. And wow! It was moving stairs.
Magical stairs on which we just have to stand and they do the climbing. My child spoke of such stairs at the mall. I myself had never been to the mall, hence had never seen this magic. Today, I was witnessing it for the first time. I was astonished; all I could do was stare. An announcement of my train was enough to break my concentration. I needed to go the other platform to catch the train but did not have the guts to get on these moving stairs. Hence, I made my legs do some work and sprinted for a seat on the train. The day was too dreamy and drowsy, I asked my malkin about those stairs. She smirked and her child had a great laugh.
At last, at night, I was standing in front of them, but they only came up and never went down. I wondered how many secret stairs it hid inside and again resorted to the daily legwork.
The next day, my child had to go to college. We always board the same train and get down at the same stations, but we never go together. I asked him about the stairs. Even he smirked and said that it’s called an escalator. The name seemed as alien to me as the thing itself but, to be honest, I never cared how it is pronounced. I somehow convinced him to come with me the next day.
And the day arrived! After having a good bath, I wore my best sari. After all, it was my first encounter with the mystical stairs. My smile knew no bounds, but my heart was racing.
Standing in front of those stairs, my heart skipped many beats, afraid and shocked I was left staring at them. I called my son for help and suddenly realised that he was already calling out to me. But he was not beside me, he was already on the stairs, about to reach the top. And now I was even more scared than before.
My son shouted to me to just take a step. But the moving stairs hadn’t gained my trust just yet. After countless efforts, I lifted my right leg, but it fell back again rather than landing on the stairs. I felt like my legs were frozen. After many more attempts, a lady helped me get on. With a brave heart and vigour, I caught her hand and took a step. I was shivering and said no a thousand times, but she was an adamant angel. Finally, with many tiffs, I boarded the magical stairs. I held her hand tight. But finally, I was on it.
My happiness knew no bounds; I was blushing and dancing. I was moving but my feet were not. That whole day was memorable. I told every person that I had travelled on the magical stairs. My madam laughed a lot and even my children made jokes, but I knew one thing: that I achieved what I want to.
Spirits high, now I am happy. I, the one bounded by duties and responsibilities of being a woman, finally, not only dreamt something for myself but also completed that dream.
“O beautiful woman, once a while breathe for yourself, once a day, dream for you. Let your virtues beautify you along with your body, looks and dress.”