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It is amazing the things you take for granted when they are in perfect working condition. Well, sometimes also when they are not so perfect too. Legs for example, or rather your feet. They served you well enough through life though you seemed to suffer from aches and pains rather a lot, especially after long days on your feet. ‘So young and she complains of aches. What will become of her at our age?’ Elders were quick to blame it all on the generation. ‘This generation,’ they said shaking their head, ‘They just do not have the stamina that we had.’

Youth though lets you tide over such discomforts, sometimes even major ones. So you tend to ignore the aches and pains except on odd days when they seem unbearable. Life anyway, is too busy and these things have to be borne with fortitude, you tell yourself. Years later, you wake up one fine day and decide to see a doctor. He tells you, you can no longer wear heels. Not that you went around balancing yourself precariously on high heeled footwear. A couple of inches high was your limit, to at least reach the L&M’s shoulder. Not any more, the doctor says firmly. You have to switch to comfortable non-heel footwear.

With no choice, you bid a tearful farewell to your much loved fancy footwear. You had assumed you were in a a lifelong relationship with them, but now had to take on substitutes not half as pretty. You switch to Dr. Scoll’s. It couldn’t get more comfortable than that. The fancy, good-looking ones from among them have not found their way to your city. You have three colors to choose from, brown, black or fawn. That’s it. Then there is white too, and it looks horrible, but you buy it anyway. Variety is the spice of life, right?

You’d think the doctor would be happy that you have switched to sensible footwear. Nope. Still not happy. The footwear is one and a half inch high, he says with disapproval, catching you the day you forgot to remove it at the entrance to his clinic. But you pretend not to have heard. You can’t be walking flat on earth at five feet nothing, can you? Not when you are continuing to grow sideways. Unless of course one wanted to look like a football.

Sensible and comfortable notwithstanding, you are back to the doctor’s again and again, and then again. ‘Custom footwear,’ he declares one day, ‘you have fallen arches.’ He sends you off to professionals. They take digital prints of your feet, then make you walk up and down to study your footsteps. Yes, flat feet, they confirm.

Then it dawns on you, how years before, much before you went to any doctor complaining of leg/foot pain, you had been to a store to buy a pair of shoes in the US of A, and the salesman had looked at the digital display of your foot and observed that you had flat feet. ‘You need custom made shoes Ma’am,’ he had said, ‘not anything off the rack.’ What was he talking about, you had wondered. Your feet felt perfectly fine. You had walked out of the store clutching the shoes you bought ‘off the rack’, ignoring one of the sanest advice you had ever got from a stranger, and that too absolutely free of cost.

One day the call comes, your footwear is ready. You drive down, try it on, it feel okay, and return home. You are not entirely happy. They don’t look snazzy. But the choice was so limited. Anyway, you have been wearing boring footwear for so long that you shrug your shoulder philosophically and let it go. You now wear it and walk round the house and you suddenly realize, it does make a hell of a difference. Good heavens, is this how walking is supposed to feel? Euphoria is not near enough to describe your feeling.

You go back to the footwear pros, get another one made, also insoles for your walking shoes. You are now set. So what if they look ugly? Yup, they look hideous. Like men’s footwear, the L&M remarks. You don’t really care. It can look like the devil’s footwear for all you care if this is how it makes you feel when you walk. Your doctor has lost a patient though, but you remember how he seemed happy when you thanked him.

What you want to do next is bop all the old ladies one on their collective heads for blaming your whole generation for your aches and pains, not once trying to find what was wrong. But most of them aren’t around anymore. With a shock you realize, you are the old one now, and then you promise yourself that you will never be like them.

© Shail Mohan 2021