A few weeks ago TGeek and I rented an Iranian indie film—Children of Heaven. A young boy takes his sister’s only pair of
shoes to be repaired by the village cobbler.
On the way home, he loses them.
They are afraid to tell their parents. Father is months behind on the rent and
cannot afford new shoes. So the two
children share the boy’s shoes. The girl
wears them to her school in the morning.
She then runs to a meeting place where she gives the battered sneakers
to her brother, who races to his afternoon classes.
All that running makes the boy fast. He enters a footrace—the prize for third place
is a new pair of sneakers. It is much
harder to come in third place on purpose than it is to win. I won’t tell you if he manages it or
not. I will tell you that this sweet
film is a must see. Just ignore the
Amazon reviewers who whine that the movie lacks an American-style lightning
pace, heart-pounding climax, and finale in which all strings are neatly tied in
A few weeks later I read Blue
Shoes and Happiness, an installment of Alexander McCall’s marvelous
series–#1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Set in Botswana, these books are worth
reading for the lyrical language alone.
Mma Ramotswe, the owner of the agency, solves mysteries
large and small for the townspeople. Her
assistant, Mma Makutsi, has an unexpected weakness for fancy shoes. While these characters are middle-class in
their world, fancy shoes are not a purchase to be made lightly. One must save up and choose wisely.
Even though she has a beautiful pair of green shoes with
sky-blue linings, Mma Makutsi can’t stop herself from buying another pair
(blue) that calls to her from the store window.
These shoes stand in opposition to other matters in life. Shoes are an easy though costly means of
getting happiness. And ultimately
In my house shoes are a nuisance. The children shed them all over the place,
and then can’t find them when it is time to go somewhere.
A family I know keeps a box by the front door containing all
the children’s shoes in the house, including the shoes of visiting
children. When kids come in, their shoes
go in the box. When they leave, they
take a pair of shoes out of the box and put them on.
I think this is brilliant and would follow suit but I’m just
not organized enough to enforce it. I
would end up walking through the house, picking up children’s shoes and putting
them in the box, which is not any easier than picking up children’s shoes and
putting them in their rooms, and there would still be one shoe under the bed or
behind the couch, and the children would sit on the floor in front of the box
and complain that they can’t find their other sandal or their left boot.
So we are rich spoiled Americans with too many shoes and
lightning paces and neatly tied in a bow (much like shoelaces) endings. But I’m glad my kids don’t have to share a
single pair of sneakers, and that I can buy the fancy blue shoes in the store
window if I really want them. But I