My mother’s beloved umbrellaAll hell broke loose at home when I forgot my mother’s umbrella at the hair salon.
“Where is the umbrella? Where is the umbrella, babu?” asked my mother.
“It’s somewhere around there,” I said. It was a good movie, and I didn’t want to leave my laptop and go around looking for the umbrella. “I can’t see it, babu. Where is the umbrella you took this morning? I want it right now.” My mother's tone had changed, and I knew she was in her transition phase and would burst with anger if she had to repeat the question.
“I think I left it on the stairs,” I replied, obviously bluffing because I couldn’t even recall I had taken an umbrella today.
“It’s not there. Don’t tell me you left it at the hair salon?”
A lightning bolt went through my body. “I think I brought it back from the saloon and kept it at the bottom of the stairs, mom,” I said. It was obviously a lie. I suddenly remembered the umbrella that I had left the umbrella on the barbershop’s bench. It was a black umbrella with colourful patterns all over it. I had completely forgotten it there.
“Well, it’s not on the stairs. I know that you left it at the salon.” Her voice echoed through the walls of the house. “I have to go to school tomorrow morning, and the weather forecast says it’s going to rain the morning. I need the umbrella. It’s already late, and I can’t even go to buy another umbrella. You have no idea how expensive umbrellas have become. A few months ago, I bought your father an umbrella and paid Rs 700 for it. In this house, nobody cares for things. I am tired of being the only responsible person in the family,” she said. After stopping for a few seconds to catch her breath, my mother continued with her rant, “You know that we don’t have money, and we are yet to pay your school fee. How could you be so careless and lose an umbrella at such a financially difficult time?”
This was something my mother did all the time. She somehow managed to connect me and my mistakes to all the challenges she was facing in her life. She made me feel like I was the source of all problems in this world.
“The salon should be open,” I said, mustering all my courage.
“So what if it is? Do you think the umbrella will be there waiting for you? Somebody must have picked it up and taken it home by now. I know I am never getting my umbrella back,” she said. “I told you not to take the umbrella, but when have you ever listened to me?”
As soon as she was done talking, I left the house and headed to the salon. On my way out, I banged the gate.
It was already dark, and the salon was more than a 15-minute walk. As I left the house, several questions floated through my mind. “Will the saloon be open? What if someone has already taken the umbrella? What do I tell my mother? Will she shout at me once again for losing the umbrella?”
As I descended the small hillock between our house and the main road, I became anxious. When my anxiety subsided, I started feeling bad for my mother. She was right. Money was tight at home, and I had just added yet another woe by losing an umbrella. I tried to recall how I forgot the umbrella in the first place. I clearly remembered that when the barber was almost done with my haircut, I had reminded myself of the umbrella. I then realised that I had forgotten all about it when the barber was done cutting my hair. I was so impressed with the haircut, and this made me completely forget about my umbrella. Recalling this made me feel stupid.
I reached a sharp bend on the road; from there, the salon was just five minutes away. From the distance, I could see that the salon's light was still on, which gave me some hope. I decided to sprint the remainder of the distance, and by the time I reached the salon, I was sweating and out of breath.
Without even stopping to catch my breath, I headed straight to the bench where I had left my umbrella. It wasn’t there, and my heart just sank. The barbers were all busy cutting people’s hair. Seeing my concerned look, the barber who had cut my hair looked at me and asked me what was wrong. “Dai, I had left my umbrella on the bench, and it isn’t there anymore,” I said.
“Oh, that’s your umbrella? I had seen it on the bench and thought someone might have forgotten it. I kept it in the drawer above you. You can take it,” said the barber.
As soon as those words left his mouth, I lept with joy. I looked at the cupboard, and there was mother’s beloved umbrella. For years, it had kept her safe from sun and rain and she really liked its colour. I understood why she was so upset when she learned I had forgotten it at the salon.
Before leaving the salon, I thanked the barber for keeping it safe. To be honest, I hadn’t expected him to return it if he had found it. “Humans are not so bad after all,” I mumbled to myself.
When I reached home, I gave my mother her umbrella and promised never to lose it. I apologised to her for making her angry.
She hugged me and said, “I am sorry I shouted at you.”
That night, it rained for hours. But by morning, the sky was clear and the sun mild. My mother decided not to take the umbrella with her to school.
Subedi is an A-level student at Budhanilakantha School, Kathmandu.