I was walking around barefoot, not because I was trying to follow in the footsteps of the legendary MF Hussain who went about barefooted because he liked the feel of the earth under his feet. And neither was it a mark of protest in support of any greater cause like that of Greta Thunberg, even though I love the girl and the cause.
My barefoot status came about due to the stellar role played by my Beagle puppy/teenager/young adult/adult – I’m never sure which, as he calls the shots on which ‘avatar’ he’s going to play out on any given day.
So, it all began when Pluto (the aforementioned beagle) chewed up my last pair of slippers after demolishing the spare pair earlier. This was shortly after I discovered the nibbled toes of the slip-ons and mangled uppers of the jootis.
Now, under normal circumstances, this would have gone under the category of being a slight nuisance since Pluto’s demolition skills were well established. However, this time the discovery came to light in the hours leading up to the first lockdown.
With the clock ticking, I was faced with the dilemma of choosing between making a dash (my sneakers were fine, just the laces were chewed up) to the footwear store, or heading out to join the mile long queues at the grocery store/vegetable vendor/milk outlet instead.
Fortunately, the choice was made for me as the survival instinct kicked in. And for the next eight weeks, I was living the barefoot life in the world’s first lockdown.
The initial challenge was figuring out how to do the chores barefoot without over-wearing the only sensible footwear still intact – the sneakers (the ones with the chewed up shoelaces). I did have the usual numbers of strappy shoes and heels (safely hidden away from Pluto’s sniff zone), but they weren’t exactly appropriate for doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. So, that meant the only time my feet were shod was when the aforementioned perpetrator was taken for his walks.
Pluto wasn’t complaining of course as this meant unhindered access to toes to nibble on along with everything else he was chewing away every chance he got. It wasn’t long before this chewing-of-all-he-surveys resulted in multiple trips being made to the veterinarian.
What followed was a course of three injections followed by 5 days of antibiotics (half tab morning, half tab evening), a whole bunch of investigations to check various parameters, supported by multi vitamins and vanilla ice cream.
I had sleepless nights worrying about Pluto not eating though I shouldn’t have been surprised considering that most of my footwear had been through his stomach. What did surprise me, however, was the approval of the kindly neighbourhood oldies every time they saw me walking around barefoot in the mistaken belief that I was following the age old practice of ‘grounding’. Well, it was easier to let them believe it since nothing would have changed their mind about their most “angelic” fur baby of the neighbourhood.
These eight barefoot weeks were a great learning. Not only did I re-examine the concept of essential vs non essential, I also took a deep dive into what really matters at the end of the day. While air, water, food and shelter are a given, so is footwear. Don’t believe me? Ask the thousands who were abandoned and forced to walk back hundreds of miles to their homes in the towns and villages. And to a very miniscule degree, also the Beagle Moms who were left barefoot to tell their story.
Image Credit : Shagun Nayar