Optical ordeal

While I don't miss most things that my sofa swallows, I can't manage minus my spectacles.

I am looking for my spectacles. Sorry! That is inaccurately phrased. As an English teacher, I ought to be grammatically precise and use the simple present tense (not the present continuous), as one would in the sentence, ‘The Sun rises.’ In common with that celestial phenomenon, the search for my spectacles is an ongoing occurrence. I should say, therefore, that I look for my spectacles.

I must state in my defence that I rarely do that at school. Preparing to read prose or poetry, I take out my spectacles from my handbag and carefully slip them back inside when I’ve finished with them. It is at home that they vanish, as I move them from bedside table to worktable to dining table, and several surfaces besides.

Considering I live in a modest apartment, not a palatial mansion, the errant eyeglasses are incredibly hard to locate. After frantically foraging in improbable places such as the washbasin and kitchen sink, I retrieve them from between the folds of my sofa. That piece of furniture, rather like the legendary Bermuda Triangle, devours objects in its immediate vicinity. Pins, pens and paperbacks, left lying around, sink silently into its cushioned crevices. 

A few of those items emerge, dusty and decayed, during the marathon cleaning sessions that I undertake when guests are expected. After one such frenzied operation, the upholstered seat grudgingly yielded its long-concealed treasures. They included a half-nibbled biscuit, a ring I assumed had been stolen, a book I believed had been borrowed, and my grandnephew’s toy car.

While I do not miss most things that my sofa swallows, I cannot manage minus my spectacles. They are especially required when I immerse myself in the wonderful world of WhatsApp. I unasha­medly admit that I enjoy my daily dose of sayings and salutations, however clichéd they may be.

On the dreadful occasions when my spectacles seem to have completely disappeared, and I lack the energy to trace them, I unwillingly use my well-worn magnifying glass. That inadequate substitute makes for hazy viewing and, as I respond to greetings from family and friends, my texting is tainted by typos.

Struggling without specs, I recall my paternal grandfather’s visits to my childhood home in Delhi. The elderly gentleman kept a diary, in which he made regular entries. Whenever he wanted to record an event or observation, his spectacles would prove elusive.

As he hunted high and low, my brother and I would watch with amusement, not offering assistance. Indifference would change to involvement the moment he announced a reward. We would then turn the house upside down to unearth the precious pair.

Today, I am ready to promise a monetary incentive to anyone who finds
my spectacles. I wonder, however, if many would bestir themselves for the sum my brother and I valued greatly — one rupee!

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