These days, people use me to take shelter from the rain or the Sun. But in old days, I was a sign of rank. Even now, in some eastern countries I continue to be the symbol of rank. In Burma, for example, only the king and the sacred white elephant were allowed to carry my white brothers. Officials and lords had umbrellas of yellow, golden, red, green and brown colours, according to their rank.
However, I was born in a small factory in Kolkata. I'm multi-coloured, and I look fine. I'm produced in mass for sale. The Monsoon approached. I witnessed a huge crowd before the shop that was my home till now.
I was made to hang from a peg. My brothers were also in the same condition. I surpassed all my brothers in appearance and beauty. I dazzled in my young age. My frame is made of steel. I'm fixed on a stick with a handle and covered with silk cloth. Hanging from the peg on the wall of the shop, I saw the people entering and leaving the shop. I couldn't wait to be bought by one and step out into the streets. One day during the rains, a group of giggling teenagers visited the shop. But they didn't notice me amidst a host of my brother umbrellas. On a may afternoon, a customer entered the shop. She was sweating heavily. She wanted to avoid the rays of the mid-day sun. She chose me, paid the price and took me away from my brothers. The separation touched me deeply and I felt all alone.
She took me home in a cheerful mood and showed me to her husband and son. They praised me for my colourful look.
My woner's husband unfold me and praised her choice. My mind leapt up in joy. My woner used to work in an office. I remained with her always on her way to office and come back. Whenever it rained I got drenched. But I didn't complain. I protected her from being drenched. I was proud. In hot summer days, I was her great saviour. I travelled with her by bus and train. At times, I got afraid lest she should abandon me. She was very forgetful.
Now, I'm old and my last days remind me of old men. My soft skin, supported by iron ribs, lost its youthful glow. My ribs lost their former strength. My colourful skin is tethered in places. My woner forsook me one day. My place was taken up by a newcomer. Now I've no companion in the world. I'm waiting for death. The time is short but the waiting is long. I'm conscious of impendind death. Now I think of our ancestors that once covered the Duke of Venice when he took part in royal processions.