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A peep into the past

Posted by Shreyans Jain Monday, 14 April 2014 0 comments

It was a pleasant Sunday evening. The breeze was cool and the sky was crisp blue in colour, adorned with vivacious, chirping birds across its canvass. The sunshine was waning toward the west and it was an ideal weather to move out for an evening stroll. The only thing trying to thwart my desire was a never ending phone conversation with one of my friends. Finally I decided to bring the blabbering to an end and headed toward the wardrobe to fetch my pair of sports shoes.

“I will be back in an hour mom”, I yelled as I pounced upon a bottle of ice cold water. 

As usual, the entrance of the community garden was guarded by a group of street dogs- black, brown, white, spotted ones…

The look that they reflected in their eyes was typical of the look in the eyes of a traffic police officer waiting anxiously at a traffic junction to challan young bikers.  I scrounged for a packet of biscuits in my pockets so that I could appease the ‘guards’ to clear the way to the entrance gate. All that I could find in my pockets was a torn bus ticket and a few strands of cotton that must have got detached from the fabric over time. Nevertheless, I pretended to behave in as normal a manner as I could and tip-toed towards the gate. To my surprise, the dogs didn’t bark or wag their tails. Phew…I was in!!!

“Welcome to District Park”, the board at the entrance read. 

What a lively scene it was! The garden was lush green, the grass was nicely trimmed, plants were meticulously decorated in the shape of animals and flowers were in full bloom – some of them I could easily recognise, others I couldn’t. I decided to walk the first round as briskly as I could. It was fun to watch pigeons, crows and sparrows sitting on a hose pipe, getting drenched in the water that was emanating from an orifice. I was reminded of my early childhood when I used to express my elation while bathing playfully in a pool made by inflating a tube. But the swarm of bees hovering near the pipe stopped me from going near it. I hate bees for their sting but I do love their honey, an inherent human trait!

In an adjacent sector, a group of young boys was playing cricket, in the typical Indian way – replacing stumps with bricks, a tennis ball in place of a Kookaburra ball, a bat with a MRF sticker on it particularly because Sachin Tendulkar played with a similar bat, two teams with a beech-ka-bichhu (a player common to both teams) who trebled his role as an umpire. I stopped for a moment to catch a glimpse of the majestic sport. The first ball was bowled and the batsman hit it over my head. What a reflex! I caught the ball with my left hand. Jhonty Rhodes must have felt envious had he seen this piece of fielding. I acknowledged the applause and moved away after handing over to them their ball.

I walked and walked, caressing the shrubs along the beaten path. I could feel the ladybird insects flying out of the bushes randomly and sitting over my fingers. I could feel the scent of the marigold flowers that were blooming in the bushes. And then the cacophony – a group of senior citizens were laughing wildly into the air and clapping madly and were further joined by a group of buzzing old ladies zzz…zzz…zzz… Indeed it was a good way of venting out anger and practicing Yoga and other therapies without hurting anyone in the vicinity. However, the louder they clapped the louder I could feel the ringing sound in my ears. I walked away quickly toward an open lawn where another group of old men were playing cards. 

“Namaste uncle”, I said.

The level of concentration was so high that anyone barely noticed. With cards in one hand and a beedi (a cigarette made by rolling tobacco over tendu leaves) or tobacco in the other, they went on to play, win and lose as long as they could. Suddenly, an evil thought crossed my mind that I should throw a pebble at one of those bald men and run away. Before I crouched to pick up a pebble, something fell over my head. It was a dry hibiscus flower. Ouch…! The God was watching. I dropped the evil thought at once and grinned.

The rustling of dry leaves as I crushed them under my feet generated a rhythmic sound and reminded me of the days when I and my sister generated similar sounds by bursting bubble wraps that were wrapped around new electronic devices and crockery. I jumped over heaps of dry leaves again and again to experience the same thrill and happiness that I felt when while jumping over blankets and mattresses. Although they were not as soft as I had expected, they did leave a characteristic smell in my hands. I had just started sinking into oblivion when someone shouted,

“Bhaiya, listen…Bhaiya…”

I got up quickly and thought that it must be the gardener running after me to shower his wrath for the spillage. But I ran after the voice to catch hold of it before it died in the woods. It was a trio of poor children from a nearby slum. They were standing at the top of a heap of sand, swirling their torn rags like Sourav Ganguly once did when India won an important match.

“Come down boys. You might hurt yourself”, I shouted at the top of my voice only to realise that they were playing a prank. It was their way of drawing attention to their mischief. They would yell and slide down the slope of heap of sand and repeat the same. While some dogs stood there barking, others (of my species) hardly batted an eye. I wanted to join them too, but my sense of superiority held me back. I felt ashamed of myself and left the place before I was overwhelmed with emotions or I involved myself in a caste debate with my conscience.

The sky had become dark now. I could see the stars and the moon shining and their beam falling on the dense trees. I felt I was standing in the same dreamland that I was transported to when my mother used to sing a lullaby for me to make me sleep. I wished I could stay there longer but an uncanny fear of isolation and the creaking sound of crickets changed my mind. I ran toward the nearest exit that I could find and once again I was led to the road leading to my home, sweet home.

I stopped by the nearby temple, bowed at the altar and prayed to the Almighty. I dropped a ten rupee note in the ‘daan-paatra’ (donation box) as a token of thanks for the maintenance of the temple. The priest offered me a plate of ­aaloo-puri-halwa (an Indian delicacy). At first I felt shy in accepting the free meal but then I thought that refusing the same might offend the priest, particularly when he knew me and my family. I was reminded of an instance when I as a child gate-crashed a wedding reception and ate there to my heart’s content; undetected and unnoticed. I had my meal and took the blessings of the priest.

The day raked up nostalgic memories of my past. I wish I could live that day every day, forever and ever!


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My blog is an innovative amalgamation of my thoughts, how i perceive and react to different events in the ordinary business of life and at the same time entertain the readers and sensitize them.