"What are you doing, move your foot ahead and pull the shoe backward, then only it will go. You are just pulling the shoe in random directions. Here, let me help you. See, how easily it fits. Now let me tie the laces."
"Leave it, I can do that myself." Struggles for a while.
"Let me show you. First pull the laces and put a single knot. Fold the two ends of the laces into half, Move one from inside other and it's done! Look how beautiful the tied laces look. Like flower petals. Now walk around and tell me if it's too tight or too loose"
Walks around cheerfully. "It's perfect!"
Sometime in 1994
I remember vaguely when first time my mom tied my shoes on my first day to school (I started schooling a little late than usual Indian kids). I was sitting on the corner of my bed, my legs hardly reaching to the ground, half bend and trying to figure out how to tie my shoes. My mom came to my rescue. She lovingly showed me how to tie shoe laces while I kept a hand on her head to balance my tiny weight. She had a gleam of happiness as well as a little moisture in her eyes. The new shiny school shoes were symbol of a new beginning.
Every time my mom helped me tie my shoes, I would ask her curiously, "why don't you wears shoes?" Dad put on shoes when he goes out, my sisters wear shoes when they go to school and even I wear shoes when I go out of the house. Mom would always have a different funny answer with various expressions to this question. Sometimes she will smile and say "because mom's don't wear shoes". Sometimes she would laugh and say "because I am a lady and ladies wear sandals and chappals but not shoes, you will understand when you have a wife." Sometimes, she will say with a straight face, "because your grand father never bought them for me when I was growing up." And sometimes she would just say "you won't understand. We are from small town. Women in my age can't wear shoes."
I could never understand her reasonings but I would just nod.
Fast forward a few years, I was in my teens. While going out to market, I would get really irritated how slow my mom would walk. I had to stop and wait for her every few minutes. She would try walking faster and smilingly say, "you keep walking, I will catchup". I would just look irritated at her sandals, making her slower and walk ahead again.
12 years later, I now live in Seattle, one of the largest city in Pacific Northwest in USA. Sometimes I look back and think how a kid from a small town like Siwan in one of the backward states from a third world country, ended up here. Had it been not for my mom's stubbornness against our joint family's will to send me to a better schools out of our state for higher studies, probably I might be running a local shop in Siwan right now.
Rainier. But the problem was it would be cold and hiking in sandals isn't possible. I convinced my mom to try shoes. She again gave me weird reasons that she won't wear shoes but this time, I just bought a nice looking pair of shoes for her and convinced her to try them. But it turned out the person who taught me how to put on shoes couldn't tie it herself because she never wore a shoe in her life! I helped her tie the laces in flower petal shapes, just as she taught me long back, while she kept a hand on my head, balancing her tiny weight. She smiled, walked around and said, "It's Perfect." I smiled back and looked at the shoes, with a gleam of happiness while hiding the small moisture building up in my eyes. The new shiny shoes are symbol of a new beginning.