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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Grass is Greener...

The searing pain in my legs screamed at me to stop the rigour I was putting them through, as I trudged along the roads flanked by the evening sun en route my jogging trail. I ignored their pleas and drove myself harder, notwithstanding the thousand promises of agony my body made me. At the end of it, as I lumbered off, I saw him...

I was never a chiseled hunk, but when I couldn't survive for ten overs on the cricket due to sheer lack of stamina and finally failed to cover a yorker on off stump owing to the fact that my expanding girth constrained my stance, and thereby the ability to get the bat down on time, the unpleasant truth dawned upon me. I'd become a slave to my indulgences, and banishing that slavery was going to be a long, arduous path, snaking endless kilometers up and down the Yewr mountains flanking my twelfth storey abode at Thane, Bombay.

So, there I was, hauling myself amidst grunts up the road that eerily mirrored a sine curve, though unfortunately displaying more crests than troughs. My breath came in shallow bursts as somebody seemed to suck the oxygen from the atmosphere and every step was an embarrassing reminder of just how much ground, I'd left to gain. I could almost feel the fat in my chest and midsection voice their displeasure at being disturbed after being catered to for ages by dint of my culinary extravagances.

As cliches go, all bad times come to an end (they just seem to last way longer than the good ones do) and so did my tryst with the mountain that evening. As I walked off, weary after a jog that'd be considered amateurish by any regular on that track, I saw him.

He appeared a laborer, to my judgement at first sight. A shock of unkempt hair bore witness to his toils as it was matted with the dirt and filth that so abounds at construction sites. The sweat glistened off his brows as his eyes perched atop his forehead to catch a glimpse of his son hoisted over his shoulders. He rocked the little boy gently, as he took careful steps towards the hawker his son was excitedly gesticulating towards. A packet of flavored ice and a few coins changed hands as the lad feasted on the delicacy. His father surveyed the toddler with a sense of pride of being able to purchase him a moment of happiness, something, I suspected, wasn't an everyday occurrence.

The kid, unaware of his father's pecuniary status, demanded a second helping, at which those proud shoulders drooped. He'd run out of means to avail the next round of smiles for his son. A few words passed his lips as he cradled the boy's slanted countenance, and on turning around, caught my eyes. It was the first time I saw him in entirety. A mass of brown muscles slithered across his lithe frame. His endless slog had burnt off the last sliver of flabbiness that so dominated my subcutaneous layer. I'm sure he never hit a gym, didn't know what crunches were and certainly didn't follow the 4000 INR/month diet that my consultant had recommended to me. And yet, he had everything I craved for. He could, at that instant, easily scale up the mountain twice over, that I'd struggled to merely jog across, if it could buy him the extra scoop of flavored ice for his son.

I wondered, what he thought of the figure I cut. Dressed in tracks and fancy sports shoes, I'd my Sony Walkman strapped to my ears and sported a Kenneth Cole watch that was shimmering in the dusk. Did he envy my relative fiscal suzerainty? Could he see beyond the package and read my desire to achieve the fitness that would never desert him.? To be able to lead a life, where watching ones son feast on a mound of coloured ice was a source of paramount joy. Or was it a case of The Grass Forever Being Greener on the Other Side?

We sauntered away in opposite directions, my mind meandering to many a memoir each bringing with it fond reminiscences that made me feel distinctly closer to life. Of times, when I thundered down the tracks with a ball in my hand and fire in my eyes, of times, when I could bend my body to my will, and not the other way around, of times when I first learnt to cycle away, aided by my father as he hoisted me on his shoulders after I expectedly toppled over! It didn't involve a Kenneth Cole Watch, a Sony Walkman or the fancy boots that I currently wore. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming wish, that just for once, that unknown father knew the magic of the moment he was encased in, and just for once, he didn't feel, when he looked at me, that the grass is greener...

5 comments:

The Nouveau said...

As usual, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary at its best ! :)

Mancunian said...

Bhaiyya, one advice by one jogger to another- don't think so much while running, it'll only make you pant for breath more. just concentrate on the road and the song blaring from your earphones...makes it much easier!:-)

Hatikvah said...

@The Nouveau - Welcome back; Long time and its good to see you back in the blogsphere;

@Bhartu - Advice noted; Of course, technically, the observations occurred "after" the jogging...

Champ said...

Easily one of your best posts :)

vinita bhattacharjee said...

Sure would be fun running those familiar paths together, Maybe this time we can write an experience together :)