If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Michelle D'costa: The Escalator

When escalators were first introduced in India, women nagged at its inconvenience. They had to be careful of their saris, heels and children. Ah! Children! Now if only children ranked first on their priority list.

Sheela stood facing the escalator that headed downwards, towards her. Now, was that convenient? Not for the people who were heading her way. They felt conscious. Why was she standing there? Who was she looking for? Who was she looking at? They murmured to their partners. She’s nuts.

Sheela could see her son Gopu taking faltering steps on the top of the escalator. She smiled a smile of a mother seeing her child taking his first steps. And then her eyes glazed over, ‘Nooooo!!!!’

Her blood curdling scream stopped the escalator in its track. But Gopu repeated what he had done that day. Only difference was Sheela watched him do it now, again and again.

She watched as he stumbled for balance. He was in the right direction. He was supposed to come down. Unlike other kids who are blessed with intelligence yet find themselves at the wrong end of the escalator, at the dangerous end.

Despite being in the right direction, he slipped. Her Gopu. Yes he did. If only she had noticed in time.

And tumbled. And then. Only then had Sheela turned around and noticed that her son was missing.

How ironical life is? The whole process began so gruellingly slow. From conception to gestation to childbirth. But death came without that wait. So sudden. At least for Gopu it did. Not that a death which is asked for is less painful. Death is like whisper only meant for the dying but arouses curiosity of the survivors.

As if Gopu was conjured from thin air. No he wasn’t. He was her flesh. He had her eyes. Too big for his face. She could see only innocence in them. His admiration for her sparkling in the drool which escaped his lopsided mouth. No one knew his smile like she did.

She had prayed so much for a child, for Gopu. Why then did God give her a child if he had to take him away anyway? That is if God exists.

People say, ‘Don’t be sad for it is over. Be happy for it happened.’

Move on. Two simple words, Sheela told herself every day since Gopu…

But how could she have been so careless? Sheela asked herself again.

When she knew he wasn’t like other kids. That he was special. That he couldn’t handle himself. But could any kid of that age? Even a normal one?

And now he was tumbling and coming towards her.

She stretched out her arms.

‘Come to mama, boy! Come!’

Yes he had heard her. He came forward hugging her. Pushing her. Handcuffing her.

‘Ma’am we cannot allow you to scare our customers away. Please go where you belong.’

The guard saying ‘please’ a little too reluctantly when he actually felt like screaming back at her ‘Go to an asylum you bitch! You will get me fired’.

She stood fixed to the spot. In her past or present? No one could say.

The people descending the escalator stared at her terrified.

‘Ma’am no one will come to our mall if you continue your drama. Please go home.’, he managed in a low tone again.

Home…It rang a bell..

‘Yes, I must go home. I must. Gopu must be waiting for me. I had put him to sleep. I told him I’ll be going to the mall. He must be awake now.’, Sheela stuttered.

But her legs didn’t move. Her mind did. To what? Home?

Of course not! Home was home sweet home before Gopu…

Her mind slowly crawling, creeping up the escalator against the tide until it reached the top and there was Gopu.

Taking his faltering steps all over again. His eyes pleading her to end it all once and for all. To take him home.

Author Bio: Michelle loves to write. You can follow her work here pikoomish.wordpress.com


  1. One dares not breath till the very end. Excellent.

  2. "How ironical life is? The whole process began so gruellingly slow. From conception to gestation to childbirth. But death came without that wait. So sudden."-these lines just got to me .
    Really good work mich .:)

  3. I find it hard to get the message of the story. However, I enjoyed reading it, and the tone is serious and sad. What caught my attention is this statement ," She had prayed so much for a child, for Gopu. Why then did God give her a child if he had to take him away anyway? That is if God exists." It reminds me of Baudlaire's poem Benediction from his poetry book, Flowers of Evil. Although the tone is different from your piece, yet the question of existentialism is there, imposed.
    Of course, the mother in your story is caring so it seems, but in Baudlaire, it's otherwise. Anyways, my point is, I like the way you set up the question. It's catchy.


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I go and go

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