Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I seem to have stumbled upon a pair of Cinderella shoes: they keep falling off my feet. My feet, in fact, have sent me on a quest for the perfect pair of shoes; but alas, like the perfect handbag, perfect footwear eludes me.
The world is full of shoes: some promise to place clouds beneath one's tread; some promise a complete metamorphosis; yet others pose in mall shops, like portals to alternate selves, selves more sophisticated than imagination could conceive, who seem serious about having fun and making bold statements about this fun.

Some months ago, my 16 year old NEEDED (capitals are deliberate) shoes and so off we went on our Odyssey. As I regarded the fare, I balked at the precariously high heels, the punishing straps strung with hard beads, the uncompromising brilliance staring me down. My child tried on many of these, exclaiming over the unimaginable comfort the shoes afforded, prancing around the store in her borrowed gait.

I crept surreptitiously out of her prancing orbit, afraid of being swooshed off and trampled upon, and found myself being stared at by a row of the improbable sandals, at the ready, seemingly awaiting orders to begin some combat, buckles glinting like weapons.

Undeniably, feet clad in dusty, stringy, un-heeled, loose sandals, feet like mine, did not belong.

Please do not misunderstand me, reader; I do not wish to appear un-groomed and grungy. However, my disagreeable feet are very particular about the kind of material that may clothe them, and they will not countenance the toes being enclosed. They cannot be made to perch any higher than the ground.

Today, I sit here, looking at my faithful sandals, worn out with fitting in, blending, trampling, all in service of my feet. I shall miss them, but like a sad Bluebeard, recognize the need for new ones to destroy.

When I was a child, I was thought of as a rather strange being, one who ran off from street play to hide in libraries, who learned to climb trees in search for an uninterrupted space to read in, who could not manage to keep herself grounded. Now, I know the real problem: I just did not have the right shoe that could convince and assure my feet of the solidness of the ground. I am still on the prowl for a good shoe, one that will not bite my feet in its arrogance and anger, one that will not squeeze my feet and spray blisters on them, one that will not feel compelled to change me into an unrecognizable self, which, instead, would make an effort to blend in with what exists, like an ideal daughter-in-law from a Hindi serial.

After all, not all feet are Cinderella feet, equally comfortable in clogs and gold slippers, and unless the shoe fits, one remains afloat, somehow unconnected to all that everyone is convinced is real, un-centered, even, like Yeats' falcon who cannot hear the falconer.

But then the alternative to Cinderella, of course, are Cinderella's sisters, with their bleeding, sliced up feet and blind eyes, stumbling cluelessly through a graceful wedding, all owing to the perverse insistence of their feet unwilling to fit the right shoe.


  1. what a great post Shefali. I stopped looking for perfect shoes years ago since my feet are very selective about what they will agree to cover them. Most of my life I wore sandals for our long summer or work boots in the rainy season of winter. When we arrived in America and I went to work, I needed to wear suits and heels. Even though I chose the lowest heels available, they enclosed my entire foot and my poor feet rebelled for years. Oh the pain. Now, retired my feet, when not barefoot, I am in simple, soft slip on sandals. My feet sing these days.
    As far as the perfect bag? I am still looking.

  2. So glad to know I am not alone, Paula! Earlier on this blog (
    I've mourned the loss of a perfect bag!
    I smile at your smiling feet!