I look at the leaves
Serrated edges, little flowers
And I wonder
About its identity
The shrub growing under the amalthas tree
You would know
You always knew
As we walked in the street
Outside the house
You could name every flower
And every tree
Even the sickness
That gripped some of the leaves
You looked at these
Concerned, everything else forgotten
The fact that your own body
Was racked with disease
That ever-present pall softened
By the enormity of your being
Your own pain erased
And at that time, in that moment
I too forgot
The wheelchair that you were in
That you were ill; that we were grief stricken
I dived right in, feeling, seeing
You weaving magic around everyday things
Flowers and trees grew chimerical wings
The swaying kachnar
The beskirted Ashokas
Of jasmine and phlox
Of nargis and freesias
You pointed them out with happy ease
And worried when any of these
Were less than their perfect selves
And I too smiled and looked
At how joyfully you revelled in it all
Holding infinity in your lit up face
Offering up so much love and grace
And for those moments
I too forgot
The pain and the grief
It was you and me
While you took me on ethereal trips
Where nature in all her fullness
Unfurled - beautiful, calming, brave
We were carried away on a gentle wave
The pitted leaves
Still vital and green
Were the only things we needed to save
A little background to the below piece. My evening walk is as integral a part of my day as my first copiously caffeinated cup of tea. I venture out 6 days a week, inclement weather notwithstanding, and no matter where I am (I have an uncanny resourcefulness for finding workout venues, even if the source of my next meal disquietingly eludes me). And having followed this body and mind discipline for close to 20 years now, i have had ample opportunity to observe, experience and expertly categorise my fellow park-goers. What follows is the somewhat meandering result. If some of it resonates with other fellow walking track creatures, the bleary-eyed hours writing it, were not for naught!
It all started in those very early days
Social media was limited, it was the digital Stone Age.
Post a relationship, solo-winging it again,
No other pastime seemed to make sense.
So jiggity jog, I began doing the laps
And that’s when I discovered the creatures of the track.
This funny set is the first that I came by:
The posse of old gents who give you the glad eye.
And if they’re feeling especially brave,
They will ardently stalk you around the enclave.
The dignified gait transforms into a stampede
Which an imminent coronary doesn’t seem to impede!
The breath is ragged, the pupils dilated
If I wasn’t The Stalked, I’d have slowed down and waited!
The next of the regular crowd in the park
Is the muscle bound ‘Lone Ranger’ who’s out for a lark.
Acutely aware of his tittering fans
Like a peacock he’ll do his trademark dance;
(Read: do a slow jog looking totally focused
But we know his nonchalance is quite entirely bogus!)
Then there’s the most entertaining stream:
The ladies who’re out there to see and be seen.
They glow and they glitter and shine in their gear
Quite confident they’ve outdone all of their peers.
Most have come from vast distances off
Because Wednesday is ‘event day’ at the Racecourse!
They walk and they talk and they scan their environs
Hoping to catch a gander of the super fine ‘uns.
(Please note that I feel abundant affection
For this vibrant, spirited ladies’ faction).
Then there’re the crowds of parents and children
Of bicycles and tricycles and scootie action;
Of badminton, football and even cricket
Right in the midst of the walking thicket.
Of aimless ambling and head-on collisions;
Guardians and wards on their own park missions.
Of flash mob type coordinated collectives
Sweating it out over their synched acrobatics.
This crowd doth teach uncommonly well
The precision art of duck, dive and repel.
But I’d be amiss if this septet ignored
The likes of myself in the regular park hoard.
Yes, I’m the one that’s outrunning demons
Not one or two, but prodigious legions!
Eyes straight ahead, “baton” in hand,
I march to the sound of my own brass band!
I may even come across as a tad bit demented
But a bracing, tearing traipse is so well worth it!
And so in closing, It’s quite essential to mention
That in building satire into this narration,
I mean to soften the blow of my words
Because haranguing I definitely am still, by God!
A little more farce? To the whole park crowd:
You’re the molasses in my tea, there isn’t a doubt!