Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Flying Chair

These days the course I’m writing is for very small children – classes I to V – teaching and practicing English language and grammar through simple stories and rhymes in a fun, interactive way. I couldn’t help sharing the story I loved as a kid, my Papa’s story of the flying chair, the उड़ने वाली कुर्सी.

The memory takes me back to the room where it was spun 
 each night, a new adventure.

In his book and paper smelling first floor room that opened into a small balcony over our lush garden, along the window, sat the big mez with three typewriters – two bulky ones, one of those Hindi and the sleek portable, Remington which he mostly used. The big table was strewn with big, open books and papers and under those lay wonderful childhood attractions – the paperweights, the hourglass in-cased in glass along with a sea horse and shells, a stopwatch, a small handheld slide magnifier, seals and boxes of photo slides. 

Papa's chair looked a lot like this.

Office chairs had not invaded homes (nor offices) – no swivel, no recliners. Ergonomics?  The word wasn’t invented. Straight-backed, no nonsense, good lumber support, if you slouched, it hurt so if you were stiff from sitting, you got up and walked some. The chair in question was a carved armchair with a cane-woven back and seat. A cushion on the seat, and two when I sat on it. I can still feel the smoothness of its arms when in make believe, I sat on it typing important imaginary things on the typewriter.

There was a single cot in the room and at night I would climb into it next to Papa (mornings, I magically woke up in my own bed), under the ubiquitous mosquito net. Then the story would begin. The story of the flying chair. The magical chair. I imagined the one in the room spouting wings and taking Papa over Kamla Park and the Bada Talaab, the lake. He would describe the chair covered in red velvet and I would feel its softness and mossy texture. When he sat on it and asked the chair to fly, I felt the lightness in the head like on being airborne when a Ferris wheel takes off the ground. Papa-on-the-flying-chair would do good deeds like saving people from robbers and helping those in need but he would do a lot of naughty and fun things too like whisking off ice-cream from someone’s hand; chance meetings with my friends and school tormentors who seemed comic in the situations he created. 

May every childhood be blessed with such wonderment and memories to last a lifetime...


  1. Sumeet11:29 AM

    Super one, straight from the heart, left me wanting to read more about your childhood escapades :)

    1. :) thank you, Sumeet! Glad you enjoyed.