Monday, February 15, 2021

The Umbrella Man

 These days I'm constantly reminded of a short story I read as a young man. It was titled The Umbrella Man. I don't remember the author. There are only two characters in the story: a man and the Umbrella Man (UM). 

The man is travelling home after work by bus. Suddenly he feels a knock on the back of his head. He turns back to see a nondescript middle-aged guy sitting in the seat behind him holding an umbrella. Our man thinks that the knock was accidental. 

But the knock is repeated. Man turns back and bestows an annoyed look upon UM. That doesn't work, however. The knock is repeated again. And again. Man gets up and gives a punch on the nose of UM. Even that doesn't deter UM from gifting the knocks at regular intervals. 

Man is obviously exasperated. He gets down when the bus reaches near the police station. He has made up his mind to file a case against this eerie intruder in his life. UM gets down and follows the Man, awarding the umbrella-knocks at regular intervals. Just before entering the gate of the police station, Man looks at UM. The latter's nose is bleeding profusely because of the punch it had received. 

"The police is more likely to arrest me for that punch," Man thinks. Nobody in written history has ever been arrested for knocking a guy's head with an umbrella. He turns back and goes home. With the umbrella landing on his head at regular intervals. 

He closes the door as soon as he enters his house in order to prevent UM from following him but is not successful. UM is strong. (Did he have a 56 inch chest? I wonder.) 

UM is there with Man wherever he goes, whatever he does. Awarding the umbrella-knocks with unfailing frequency. UM is there in the kitchen when Man is cooking. He's there as an abiding companion even in the washroom. He's everywhere. Even in bed. With the knocks. 

Days pass into weeks and months. Man has no worries now. He has got used to the umbrella-knocks. His only concern now is whether UM will leave him and thus deprive him of the knocks. 

I would like to end this reminiscence with the following jab from a friend's timeline on Facebook. 


  1. This had me in splits. You have a way with words and the not so subtle symbolism in your piece is unmissable. You are certainly one of the wittiest critics of the present government.

    1. Glad you have not lost the ability to laugh. Regarding criticizing the present govt, I'm sure there are a lot of people with much better sense of humour than I waiting to do it the moment they feel bold enough. See how comics are ending up in jail these days.

    2. Well almost everyone is ending up in jail. They don't have budgets for education and health but they might have to lay off some money for prisons soon!

  2. You are a great critic of the current regime Tom. I enjoyed this post thoroughly. But be careful. People are being charged with sedition for the most trivial things.

    1. Thanks, Jai. I'm just completing my novel, Black Hole, which ends with the imprisonment of the protagonist for questioning his management. His fellow prisoner is a standup comic arrested for a joke he didn't crack... Hope they will let me complete it 😱


Ishwar Allah Tero Naam

  Fiction ‘That’s very absurd,’ Subramanian Sir said. He had just listened to the plot of a novel that Arvind Kumar was planning to writ...