Stairs

So, recently I learned this term called ‘anthropomorphism’ which means humanizing inanimate objects, animals or even God. This is different from personification, where we simply give a human quality to an inanimate object. But when we anthropomorphize an object, we actually make it come alive. It’s the object that’s doing the talking. So, a ‘talking painting’ is personification, but the painting actually talking to the reader is anthropomorphism.

Following this interesting new discovery, the image of a staircase popped up in my mind and I wondered what it would say if it could think or speak. I wrote the word stairs in my phone and left it there. A couple of days later, I went back to it and gave a voice to them.

Here’s the result:

stairwell-918507_640

It’s not easy being a set of old static steps on a busy subway. But I’m used to it by now—people walking all over me. And I can sense their emotions by the way they drag their feet on my rugged bones.

If they stay for long, sit and stretch their legs, lean back on their arms and drop the weight of their world onto my shoulders, I know they are waiting. For something… someone. I can almost hear them sigh on the phone, at the person who was supposed to be here an hour ago and I can’t help but sigh with them. The wait is always longer when you are the one waiting.

Then, some are always a little annoyed. They want to ‘just get somewhere’ and I make the task indefinitely difficult. I don’t mind them because I scarcely feel their weight. They take two steps at a time and are the lightest on their feet. But there are some who struggle to put one step after another, as if their sadness and tiredness have added extra pounds on their skin.

Then there are some who are filled with way too much enthusiasm for a later hour on a weekday, jumping up and down, forward and backward, squeaking and swinging on my arms.

Usually that level of joy only radiates from those who have not experienced life. The little kids are the most ignorant lot of them all, the most violent too for they stomp their feet and cry and wail, but you just can’t stay mad at them. If only for the reason that their bubble is soon going to go up in flames. It’s just a matter of time until life catches up with them.

But life has caught up with me. After years of letting everyone walk all over me, I lie forgotten in the midst of a bustling day. It’s my grandson who has the attention now. He is shinier and polished. He is well taken care of. He isn’t static, he glides everyone along. He doesn’t wait to absorb the sorrows and joys of the people. He just gets the work done.

“You should adapt to technology, Grandpa!” he tells me as he carries a crowd of people up to their destination. “The people love me so much! They don’t have to walk. I make their lives easier. You should start moving along!”

Maybe he is right. It’s not the survival of the oldest and wisest now. It’s the survival of the fastest. So maybe I should wrap the blanket of technology and become young and wanted again. Who knows? People might take note like they used to. And instead of trampling my weak bones, they would stand still, while I take them where I want to.

“Come on, grandpa! Do it!” my grandson urges as I begin the pull it over my body. But then I see a lonely homeless man walking up to me, putting the scraps of his food on the steps and eating, one small bite at a time. I set aside the rough, hard blanket and make my lap as comfortable for him as I can.

He is hungry and he has got some food after a long time, I can tell, for he drops crumbs on my dusty lap, but picks them right up and eats it all. Maybe it’s not always about moving along. Maybe it’s about staying still, sometimes. I let the man lean back on me and realise it’s my warmth, stillness and familiarity that they turn to when they are sad, lonely, joyous or simply waiting.

 

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