Saturday, 30 May 2015

Romance In The Park

                                 People In A City Park Free Vector Free Vector       
                                                      ( Courtesy Freevectors)

    Age did not seem to diminish his energy or the penchant for wooing women. He jogged into the park  every morning strapped with a kit, his closely cropped salt pepper head bobbing over the rest of the early risers. He was seasoned, one could make out from his correct jogging shoes and the accessories. Only his shorts were a bit too brief for others' comfort. 

   The green square fringed with the amaltas, neem and a couple of teak trees was a source of freshness, entertainment and a balm for the tired eyes. At daybreak, the denizens of the surrounding tall buildings streamed in. Some jogged, strolled, walked, exercised or attempted to shake their limbs between gossip sessions and discussion of the futility of present day politics.

   There were some  old ladies barely managing to reach the park wobbling with a stick and then there were some who quite defied their age and seemed fit enough to park their legs on the back of the benches to bend forward. A couple of those women who ambled along the track talking of their daughters-in-law, never seemed to be in a hurry to excite the lards resting peacefully on their ample frame.They most likely went right back home and gorged on the parathas cooked by those very  daughters-in-law. The ring of  benches under the kikar tree, in the center of the park, was the permanent meeting place for a group of just- retired, on -the -verge -of- retiring, retired -for-decades gentlemen who strolled a couple of rounds around the park and then got down to their favourite pastime of lambasting every Government programme worth their byte in the media. And for breathers, they  shook their hips from side to side and attempted to touch their toes between topics of conversation. Everytime, their fingers barely managed to reach beyond the knees. These rare attempts were further abandoned when the discussions got juicier where they could provide their two cents worth of wisdom gained from the years of experience. 

  And so life went on in the green square fringed with the amaltas, neem and a couple of teak trees. The birds warbled to fill in with the perfect morning notes. Happy little groups, relaxed twosomes and threesomes and inscrutable singles within the confines of  invisible circles drawn around them.  She stood out from the lot  practicing her yoga  facing the sun, happy to be in her own world; letting the grass smear her palms with  dew that she massaged into her face; singing bhajans clapping her hands as though she was the only one in the park.
" Namaste! What a lovely morning it is, isn't it! " she bowed to the old couple stretched  out in the snake position on the grass.
They waved back at her.
" Oh! It is so good to see you! May God bless you! " she smiled at an elderly man in the middle of his breathing exercise. Her smile stretched to brighten up her face with fine lines that wrinkled at the corner of her eyes and lips. They waved back to her always. Sometimes engaging in little conversations. But she never seemed to stay with anyone for long. She flitted with quick steps  like the butterflies hurrying on to catch up with all the other flowers.   

   It was after she came into the park that the salt and pepper jogger usually entered, going around the track for a couple of rounds. On many occasions  he did his sit ups and push ups quite close to where she was. At first she did not seem to notice him. She went about her routine oblivious to the new pattern that was setting in. As days went by her hands quite frequently smoothed her hair. She stole quick covert looks from the corner of her eye as she massaged the back of her neck.  His arrival was alerted with an American drawl on the pedometer, "You have done five kilometres in forty five minutes! Congratulations!" While he front rolled and squatted, she walked past him on her toes and arms raised to the sky with a quick surreptitious glance at him. He watched from afar as she closed her eyes and released her breath in spurts. One day he walked upto her while she was in the middle of executing surya namaskar. After a brief conversation he followed her movements like a student learning from a teacher. He was a seasoned one alright.

   It didn't take very long for both of them to jog into the park together. Taking up their former spots on the grass, each one followed their own set of stretches. The cheerful woman and the salt and pepper jogger. The petunias around the trees were growing into scraggly, unkempt shrubs and the amaltas pods above were waiting to burst open into golden chandeliers. Everything else went on. The same set of people. The same set of indulgences. Life went on. 

  One day, the cheerful lady and the jogger entered the park separately. She came in first and went about her asanas. He jogged in later stopping near the little mound of grass while the American drawl confirmed his target for the day. He did not look at her once and continued with his squats like she did not exist. She tossed her head to the other side and continued to balance herself on a vrikshasan. He did his back rolls and front rolls while she avoided looking in his direction. She then left with a sideways glance at him and he focussed on balancing himself on the lurches. This new pattern of aloofness soon replaced the older one.

  It was one of the usual mornings. The woman  folded her hands in obeisance to the sun rising over the buildings before she sped out on a round around the park. Nothing unusual there. The familiar brisk walkers were out pacing each other. Suddenly a small group assembled in the far corner, under the neem tree. People at the back of the gathering were trying to peer over others shoulders. Someone had fallen on the track. It was the cheerful woman lying on her back with a dazed look in her eyes.  Some of the other ladies in the park had reached and urged her to rise up but she  looked around confused at the faces peering at her.

" Are you okay? "
" Come on! Get up!"
" Here, let me help you."
Everyone seemed to know her.
" Are you feeling sick? Are you giddy?"
" Come, let's clean you up"
She shook her head and lay as though it was the most natural thing to do. To lie on her back, on a walking track early in the morning. After a few minutes of coaxing and cajoling she reluctantly allowed to be helped to her feet and made to sit on a bench nearby. But that lost look stayed scanning the faces like a child searching for the parent. While the others dusted her t-shirt and sweat pants, she turned around, looked over her shoulders, craned her this way and that way. She was desperately searching.
" What do you want?"
" Do you want some water?"
She shook her head.
" Are you looking for Vikram?"
" Where is he..." she said weakly.
" He should be here, don't worry" a brisk walker said. 
" Will someone please call Vikram?" a lady suggested.
Now everyone joined in the lookout for Vikram turning their heads around to see if they could spot him.
" There he is! Vikram! Vikram!"
Two more voices joined in summoning him.
Vikram had just entered the park and had continued his last lap. His machine confirmed another five kilometers for the day as he walked up to the group. 
" Vikram, please take her home...she doesn't seem to be well..."
" She fell suddenly while taking her walk"
She clutched onto his arm frightened as though he was the last hope.
 Vikram held her hand tenderly and led her out of the park taking slower steps, wiping away the sweat on his sleeves. The group dispersed and went back to their lives.

   The amaltas trees were in full bloom now spreading a golden hue in the fringes of the park. The women still strolled and lamented about their daughters-in-law. The men continued with their animated discussions under the kikar tree. The focussed ones counted the number of laps completed. It has been quite a few weeks now but the spots by the grassy mound are now occupied by new faces bending and stretching to touch their toes. 



  1. The gestures and the patterns of interaction between the cheerful lady and the seasoned one make an interesting read.:-)

  2. That was a surprising salt and pepper story, albeit with a dash of chilly in between. I loved your sketch of the bustling mornings in the park. Very cute.

  3. Love your descriptions! Beautiful!

  4. I can see the park and all it's occupants-beautiful description Ilakshi.

  5. "Aate jaate khoobsurat awara sarkon pe
    Koi anjaan log mil jaaten hain
    Unme se kuch log bhool jaate hain
    Kuch yaad rahe jaate hain......"


Your words keep me going :)