The stand­ing po­si­tion.

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By Clif­ford Mar­tis

Ihave named this ar­ti­cle as Casabianca be­cause Casa stood on the ship’s deck (as in­structed by his fa­ther) with­out mov­ing even as all other ship’s crew left the ship when they saw a flood com­ing. In­ter­est­ingly, I re­mem­ber our great movie man Sha Rukh Khan was a young per­son many years ago. He was seen as a sol­dier in film. His brother was the com­man­der. On one oc­ca­sion the com­man­der or­ders SRK to stand. There­after he leaves the place and to­tally for­gets the young sol­dier stand­ing. When he re­mem­bers that he had asked the sol­dier to stand, he im­me­di­ately rushes to the spot and finds that the young­ster was still on his feet.

Man is born in a ly­ing down con­di­tion. I think some an­i­mals at least are born in the stand­ing con­di­tion or at least stand soon af­ter be­ing born. Right from the time some­one is born, the par­ents and oth­ers try to make the child stand. Of course it is not easy to make a child stand and walk. It takes about an year or so for the child to walk. The way it tries to walk and the ways in which its par­ents and oth­ers try to make it walk are very in­ter­est­ing scenes. Be­fore walk­ing steadily in a stand­ing po­si­tion, the child tries to walk on all fours. This is a lovely sight.

I read about a book ti­tled Born Stand­ing Up by Steve Martin. Very ea­gerly I tried to see what the au­thor has said in his book. Then I found that Steve was a stand-up co­me­dian. He was talk­ing about his work of be­ing a stand­ing up co­me­dian.


What is our pur­pose in dis­cussing a child’s stand­ing and walk­ing ef­forts? Af­ter the child grows up it has to stand a great deal for var­i­ous rea­sons and for var­i­ous pur­poses. A great deal of the child’s time is spent in sit­ting, sleep­ing, ly­ing down and so on. Out of 24 hours a child may sleep for about 10 hours. But out of the rest of 14 hours it has to stand a great deal. It may not be pos­si­ble for us to men­tion how many hours the child stands. But the stand­ing po­si­tion has great pur­poses, rea­sons and im­pli­ca­tions.

An im­por­tant point in a per­son stand­ing is to show re­spect. But strangely some­times stand­ing is used also as a pun­ish­ment. I re­mem­ber a joke. The teacher

asked, “Pandu where is the Qu­tub Mi­nar?” Pandu did not know the an­swer. So as usual the teacher said, “Stand on the bench.” Pandu stood on the bench and said, “Teacher from here also I can’t see the Qu­tub Mi­nar.”

When bosses and other high­erups come, the sub­or­di­nates stand as a mark of re­spect. Once, in an of­fice the boss was en­ter­ing the build­ing. The peon who was sit­ting at the door did not get up (Due to ig­no­rance or care­less­ness). The boss got an­gry and gave him a sharp slap.

Once, a big boss of a cer­tain com­pany came from Amer­ica for a visit of their In­dian es­tab­lish­ment. In the even­ing there was a so­cial gath­er­ing. The for­eign gentleman was go­ing round meet­ing peo­ple and chit-chat­ting with them. He came near a group of ladies who were seated and talk­ing. When they saw the gentleman ap­proach­ing they got up. But that per­son said, “No no, please do not stand. This is a so­cial gath­er­ing. Let us meet and talk in­for­mally.” One lady said, “Sir, you also please sit.” He said, “I have been sit­ting all day. I don’t want to sit. You peo­ple sit and let us talk,” Will the ladies con­tinue to sit? If they con­tinue to sit then we can say that there is a very good re­la­tion­ship be­tween the boss and the staff. And also that the staff are not afraid of such mat­ters.

Many jobs and oc­cu­pa­tions re­quire the per­son to keep stand­ing for a long time. Peo­ple in the armed forces, po­lice, es­pe­cially traf­fic po­lice, watch­men, wait­ers in restau­rants, most work­ers in fac­to­ries, teach­ers, and lec­tur­ers and so on have to stand and work. Sur­geons op­er­ate mostly in a stand­ing pos­ture. Oth­ers who have to work stand­ing are bus con­duc­tors, hair dressers and sales­men in shops.

I re­mem­ber a joke. In a ru­ral area it was very hot and hu­mid. The teacher was an old man per­haps about to re­tire. Un­able to bear the heat and the sweat, he re­moved his shirt and vest and sat on the chair with legs stretched on the ta­ble. Within sec­onds some boys came run­ning and shout­ing, “In­spec­tor has come.” Our friend got up and be­fore he could do any­thing the in­spec­tor was stand­ing right in front of him. He said, “Sir, I was teach­ing chest, lungs, tho­rax etc.” I am not able to say whether the in­spec­tor bought the old man’s sub­mis­sion.

Apart from these oc­cu­pa­tions there are other ar­eas also where peo­ple have to stand. Re­li­gious ser­vices, singing of the na­tional an­them, pay­ing last re­spects to peo­ple who have passed away, stand­ing in the queue for var­i­ous pur­poses (ex­cept per­haps queue in a doc­tor’s clinic or other places where there is an ar­range­ment for sit­ting for the wait­ing pa­tients). I saw a car­toon where a lady was sit­ting a lit­tle away from the queue read­ing a book. She had put the pa­pers in her dog’s mouth with a chain and the dog was made to stand in the queue.

Stand­ing in the queue for buy­ing tick­ets or for any other jobs has its own fun and prob­lems. Dur­ing busy sea­son peo­ple stand in the queue day and night. Some­times you find that one or two per­sons stand­ing near the counter and talk to the peo­ple in the queue. The oth­ers would get up­set see­ing such tac­tics and call out to them to get back to the queue. They say that they are not in the queue but only talk­ing to their friends. I re­mem­ber in Chen­nai we used to stand in the long queues to buy tick­ets for MGR movies. Some chil­dren used to en­act sword fight­ing for the en­ter­tain­ment of the peo­ple in the queue.

Peo­ple like po­lice, teach­ers, watch­men, etc have not only to do their work in a stand­ing po­si­tion but they can­not take it easy and sit down. The peo­ple in the above cat­e­gories not only have to stand and do their work but they can­not take it easy and sit down. Once a traf­fic po­lice­man was stand­ing right in the mid­dle of the traf­fic junc­tion and a ve­hi­cle came and hit him. He died. Gov­ern­ment set up a memo­rial for him.

Some­times a large num­ber of peo­ple keep stand­ing for a long time ex­pect­ing a min­is­ter or a politi­cian to come and in­au­gu­rate a new project or make a speech. One is sure to feel tired hav­ing to stand for such a long time. Some­times you get un­ex­pected rains also. A man like me may not mind sit­ting down on the ground but the ground may be dirty or other peo­ple may look with dis­gust or there may not be enough room at all for the per­son to change from the stand­ing po­si­tion to the sit­ting pos­ture.


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