Random Mornings Memories of morning walks
Memories of morning walks
climates, cities, faces
the familiar rhythms
as the body finds its stride
after each hiatus
caused by life-
each can disrupt, for days and months,
the rhythm of the dawn.
What joy to be out again
In the cool of the morning
The sky, benevolent.
A gentle sun.
Fog, low visibility.
The crowds near the lakes in Kolkota-
Unnerving, at first, to one used to solitude.
Mist, drizzle, koels in
A school-going child to be hurried home for,
To be woken, fed, dispatched…..
tea, morning papers, significant others….
The rhythms of routine will prevail
How precious this time alone
Thoughts to be thought through,
Walking as worship,
A prayer running through the mind
Sincere, though perhaps unorthodox.
But since when is one’s Maker orthodox?
Since when are the rituals conducted in His name
All that please Him?
And thanking Him, with profound gratitude,
for each new morning, each new day……..
The elderly lady murmuring her ‘paath’
Black-haired “Speedy” with his Walkman,
The lady with the squeaky sneakers
( had she paid for them, I wonder- one shoe squeaked the entire year)
Apsos and alsatians,
(much before Hutch made pugs a household dream )
Mr Muscles, so many others
The amazing interactions,
and their absences
At each new location
The paranoia of this day and age
Underlined vividly in many ways….
The dawn of the new millennium
On the waterfront at
Three cheerful young men wishing all and sundry
A Happy New Year,
And offering toffees from a bag
It would be churlish to refuse.
But- sweets from a stranger?
Never- one of the earliest taboos….
Not me, not my child, not my maid, nor her child….
No child whom I know or do not know…..
Poor, innocuous little sweet
I slip it discreetly into the water,
Hoping that the fish forgive me…….
How do I perceive myself?
Middle-aged, plump, cheerful, female,
Most definitely non-threatening…….
But after months of traversing the same roads,
At times I wonder……..
Once established as a regular, familiar, solitary walker,
Albeit a stranger,
Strangeness wears off, interaction begins
Usually just a smile, a nod,
Of a fellow human being,
part of the community of walkers-
what more does one need?
There was the woman who refused to smile
Perhaps it was part of her socialization-
Smiling at strangers leads to Trouble.
Her persistent non-smiling and my persistent smiling
became a part of our routine.
Surely the joy of the morning had to be shared….
it became a mission to make the wretched woman smile.
The entire year I lived in that town, walking,
Watching the purple sunbirds,
The jacaranda and the Pride of India
Purple resplendent everywhere
Crossing her path every morning
She refused to smile.
Until the day after I had my hair cut short
She beamed at me
Why, I cannot say………
The older walkers lack such threat perception
They cheerfully acknowledge the new human being
Who has, for however long, entered their orbit.
With them, it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female,
Young or old, whatever shape or size….
They also crave acknowledgement of their humanity,
Glad that courtesy can exist beyond convention,
Never mind that you haven’t been introduced……..
Courage flowers in many fields-
The early morning roads bear witness
to extraordinary valour ,everyday,everywhere.
The elderly lady in
her rolling gait, her snail-like pace,
bore witness to the pain she bore,
but she walked every day,
each step an achievement.
The couple in
Elderly, he with crutches,
Devoted wife alongside,
Adding a few yards every few days,
Progressing from crutch to stick,
The lane outside their house a witness
To their courage and determination.
The neighbour who had undergone
In this new phase of his life
the erstwhile desk-bound workaholic
learns to walk each dawn
as though his life depends upon it.
The octet of elderly gentlemen
Laughing aloud each morning
Their anecdotes slowing their pace to a stroll
Now only three remain,
But they keep on………
Slower, older, shorter, no longer upright
Sticks and canes for support
But their conversation continues, unabated,
as do their walks…….
The very old lady
Bone thin, bent over-
Clutch skeletal thighs-
Propelling herself, independent of all
No stick, no cane, no walker, no helping hand…..
Perhaps just the mercy of the Lord
Whose temple she circumambulates, smiling,
at dusk and every dawn.
A luxury, an indulgence
That’s what these walks are,
Leaving the comfort of bed
the only difficulty,
Early rising becomes a habit-
The body wakens you-
It’s time to get up, time to go
Out into the glorious morning.
lie-abed days soon diminish
of their own accord…..
as a mode of transport,
as it still is for so many-
walking over all kinds of terrain
when there’s no alternative….
But we morning walkers,
Walking for the joy of it
Reserving the best part of the day
We also bask in the admiration
Of those unfortunates
Who can’t make it in the mornings….
Strange, what moral stature
Early morning walks can grant you.
There are so many more who walk
At dusk, in the evenings,
Sun-setters, not sun-risers
City skies are smoggy by then
There’s the traffic of returning commuters
Dinners to be prepared,
Homework to be supervised
Sudden demands for a notebook
Or pencils, or maps (physical and political)
To be fulfilled.
Guests who drop in for evening tea.
Many more potential interruptions-
You can’t call your soul your own,