Chairs have come to mean a lot more than a raised seat to rest your rear. Few thousand years back, I guess man was fine sitting on a tussock or a sturdy skull. Then, probably, Chesty Imperious, the best hunter of the clan in a moment of ‘self-importance’ said, ‘Why should I be squatting on haunches like the rest when I was the one who killed the antelope?’
The chair had probably been invented by now. For Chesty’s mother-in-law who had bad knees. But, on that historic day, Chesty snatched it from under her butt, decorated it with some twigs and flowers and sat on it. The others made garbled noises indicating awe and proclaimed him as king.
‘The chair’ is still used as the emblem of authority in the House of Commons in the UK. Closer home, it is also a handy weapon when one gets into an argument over important political matters in the parliament.
In ancient Egypt, the higher ranked an individual was, the taller and more luxurious was the chair he sat on and the greater the honour. On state occasions the pharaoh sat on a throne, often with a little footstool in front of it. I had my own ‘pharoah moment’ when I was perched on a chair with a faulty pneumatic air piston, stuck in his highest groove. It refused to budge, making me loom almost a foot over my boss, who, aah cruel fate, was already a puny fellow. I am not surprised that all my proposals were shot down that day. Damn tall chair!
Maybe, that wasn’t the most awkward moment. It has to be that fancy mid-back swivel lumbar support chair on wheels on which my co-interviewer and I were seated, interviewing a nervous young man. A confident interviewer posture is palms interlocked behind the skull. My co-interviewer had mastered it. He asked a question striking that pose, gently rocking his chair back and forth. I had, in the meantime adopted the intense interviewer posture, leaning in front and piercing the skull of the interviewee with my gaze. The question was over. There was silence. No reply. Nervous young man was looked more nervous. I dialed up the intensity of my glare. Still no answer.
He was sweating now. I was irritated — how difficult was it to answer, ‘Which college did you go to?’ I finally, turned to my colleague with a shrug. HE WASN’T THERE! I just saw two legs, forming a ‘V’ for Victory. He had toppled over. Silently. Stuck there, awaiting rescue.
Finally, there are chairs in movie halls with multiple buttons to prop up your legs, supply you with an arm rest or tilt you back far enough for you to be able to see the man operating the projector. I love them! Just sinking into them and falling asleep as a familiar movie plot is re-hashed on screen is bliss. The only problem: on waking up I don’t know which button does what. Heck, I don’t even remember where the buttons are. As a result, just as humanity is ebbing out of the hall, I lie there — my elbow wedged behind my neck, an arm emanating from an ear and my left leg stuck under the popcorn table.
Best-selling author Rachna Singh (www.rachnasingh.in) is a sit-down comedienne