It’s been years since I’d stopped looking at faces- stopped recognizing them. Faces- good, bad, not good, not bad; however they may be, they made me feel bewildered. I was always in a muzzy- nebulous wreck, once I started looking into the faces.
I had settled myself for the legs. I recognized each leg I’ve ever worked on. Day and night, I looked at those legs, those shoe clad feet. I worked on them.. I loved them.
But I worked not for the pleasure that I felt in touching the crisp wafers of currency. No. It doesn’t seem credible, but I work for the mere smile that I get when I see my hands work wonders on those dusty shoes that walk nowhere! I feel happy when my hands work swiftly- right to left to right; over those shoes- black or brown.
Those shoes were of all sorts. Big- fat ones, long- thin ones, flat ones, pointed ones, those that did not fit in those wrong legs, and those worn- only to make others jealous. But whatever type they might be- I worked on them- until I saw them give me a glowing smile.
All days of the week, I worked. The sweat which rest on the tip of my nose, as my eyes drilled on the movement of my hands- evaluating the perfection of my job, knew that they were born out of a man who was happy. They were our children- I, the father and my work- the mother.
A man is happy in his life, as long as his wife keeps him happy. I had two wives- my work and Shanti. And they both made me happy. I earned just enough to run our family and keep us smiling. Shanti too, never wanted for more- not ever. She had learned to read my thoughts and resonate with my smile. And I had learned to smile, when she wanted one from me!
For the past few days, I felt that she wanted less of my smiles. Something had changed. She had changed. She felt weak- and the more she tried to hide it from me, the more it was conspicuous. I decided to take her to the doctor.
Shanti had to be admitted in the hospital. I needed money. We had managed to save a little. But more was needed.
I now worked for the pleasure of feeling the crisp wafers of currency. My sweat was not my child of happiness- it was only the price for my labour. There was so much to do. And there was never enough time. I felt pressured and hassled all day, everyday, seven days a week. And each day, was a day long of drudgery- a struggle to succeed in a deadly game with fate. And in this wrestle, I must win- to save a soul who had only lived to see me smile. And my defeat would only mean that, my smile would be gone.
The pleasure that I got to see my hands move swiftly over the shoes, were no longer pleasure. I had learned to work without passion. I had learned to live like many others- an ordinary humdrum life- devoid of smile but a rage to win; devoid of passion but a compulsion to earn. I was a man- of the Earth!
She was going to be alright. She smiled at me after days of agony. A smile, which relieved her of all her agony. A smile- that left her eyes devoid of light, yet she kept smiling- as though she could never stop smiling- as though she could do nothing else anymore- not fight anymore- and not suffer anymore- but smile and only smile..
It’s been years since I’d stopped looking at faces- stopped recognizing them. I had settled myself for the legs. Day and night, I looked at those legs, those shoe clad feet. I worked for the smile that stayed with me, forever. A smile- and just a smile. But for the smile- Shanti was only a vegetable. And as my first child of happiness- left me- I worked to see my hands work forever- swift from left to right to left to right to left…