Independence Day Walk

Tuesday, I woke up at 6.45 am and decided to go for a walk. I haven’t done this in a long time, because of the many voices in my head: it’s hot; it’s humid; it’s dusty, it’s polluted. And, the best reason of all — it’s much nicer to stay in bed.

As I stepped out of the front door, the sky was blue and there was a gentle cool breeze against my skin. A good start. I turned left and walked towards the smaller park just down the road. Two men in shorts were huffing past me. I smiled and they smiled back. I reached the park and there was no-one here. I looked around and there were changes. I hadn’t been in it for months. With the monsoon rains, the trees and bushes had grown talk and were swaying in the breeze. The hedge all around the park was lush and green. I ran my fingers along it as I walked.

I walked slowly, breathing and taking in the trees — the neem, the pomegranates, the bougainvillea — all healthy and tall. A series of yellow butterflies flitted around, chasing each other. All yellow, no other colour. I looked towards the road and a charming sight — an older man pulling a cart on a bicycle with three children in school uniforms waving the Indian flag (it is Independence Day). I waved to them and they waved back.

In my next round, they were playing in the park. I said hello and asked if they had school today. Yes, they said. What time, I ask? 8 am they said in unison. I noted they were children of a working-class family, part of the construction crew building a set of apartments next to the park. Happy, carefree, with their high pitched childish voices — two boys and a girl — they ran to and fro from the slides and the swings and chased each other around the park.

On the road, I saw a young man with a small child, walking hand in hand. The man was tall and stooped towards the child. An older child cycled by. The man asked if he would mind taking the smaller child on his bike, just for a bit. Sure, said the boy on the bike. The smaller child got on the bike, assisted by the man. The older child began to pedal and the man walked alongside the bike, his hand on the back of the younger child. Lovely scene. Later, I saw the man and child walking back, hand in hand, with a bag of milk pouches.

I took a break on one of the benches. Breathing in the good air, admired the view. I closed my eyes and did a minor meditation.

Back to walking, three young neighborhood boys came into the park, telling stories and walking on the same path as me. I was amused how they all talked at the same time, nobody really listening to each other, till one of them shouted: no one is listening to my story! How much like us grownups I thought.

Starting the Independence Day with a walk was good idea. So much to be thankful for, so much to see.

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