Clack! Clack! went the stairs as a hundred kilos of dead weight passed over them.
Motu, the topmost stair, grimaced in pain.
"I hate that fat man pounding over me like that. I have not stopped shaking yet. I hate, I really hate all human beings."
Patlu, the stair next to him, snorted.
"Stop it, Motu! Where would we be without them. It was Man who made us into what we are, otherwise we would have been mere blocks of cement. So what if we have to suffer a bit in return. Don't we also enjoy ourselves, looking at the various people who pass over us, day after day and listening to the sound of their footsteps."
Lambu, the third stair, piped in between, "Yes, Motu, don't you like Micky? The kid who lives upstairs on the second floor. His tiny footsteps tickle me in every corner possible. I just wait for him to come back from school and run up, screaming and shouting to his mother. The sound of his footsteps is simply divine."
"I prefer the footsteps of the Kathak teacher who comes by every week. His anklets make a melodious tinkling sound and he always lingers on me a while. I think he likes me a lot. He almost always makes me an offering of red tilak and what not," said Motu.
"You see, I like Indian Classical Music very much. I'll be really honored if Zakir Hussain climbs on me. His footprints will be a prized autograph indeed."
Patlu chimed in, "Motu, the Kathak teacher tarries a while while standing on you, for a very simple reason and not because he likes you. It is because you are so fat and comfy. And if you think that spitting a chewed betel nut paan on to you is an offering, then God alone can save you."
Lambu intervened, "It is impossible for any of our brethren to envy Motu, for he is always the receptacle of some rubbish or the other."
After a bout of frenzied laughter, Patlu said, "Personally, I like the sound of Sushil's footsteps. That's because I love Western Music. Do you know him, Lambu? The college student who lives on the third floor. He tap dances on us whenever he gets the time and his walkman is always churning out the latest chartbusters. The sound of his footsteps cannot be described in mere words. I feel ... I dream that I am dancing to the tune of 'Chal Chaiyyan Chaiyyan' at Elevate with Malaika Arora in my cemented arms."
The others shared Patlu's dreams. The only difference being Motu visualised Yamini Krishnamurthy in his arms swaying to the tune of 'Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje' while Lambu preferred Maneka Gandhi swaying with him in Corbett Tiger Reserve.
After a minute of dignified silence as they dreamt, Lambu said, "I also like Rambo, the cat and Cadbury, the dog. Their soft pitter-patter makes me feel so good, so peaceful. Especially, when Cadbury sniffs at the piece of biscuit lying on my middle. Yes, the sound of their footsteps is certainly angelic."
At this point, the fat man returned and thundered down Motu, Patlu and Lambu in that order. All three clutched their middle and groaned aloud in a cacophony.
"I HATE this BIG FAT mannnn.........."
[This post, written for an on-the-spot-creative-writing contest in college, was first published on my now defunct Sulekha blog on April 7, 2004)
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