Life is full of little battles, a few with reason, most without. And no, they are not restricted to humans. Santosh Bakaya stumbles upon a few.
Enjoy Morning Meanderings Season 2 with your hot cuppa and cookies. ☕🍪😊
The old woman, whose sons have settled abroad, leaving her to her own devices, was sitting on her lawn after a long time. She was watching the people walking and talking, smiling at the kids, perhaps remembering her own sons as kids. She smiled at me when I looked in her direction.
Last year, during the mango season, I had caught her having a mango with her morning tea. A look of sheer embarrassment had come to her rescue, quickly covering her face, hiding the streaks of mango on her happy cheeks. Through a mango-stuffed mouth, she had said, “I love mangoes”.
“I love mangoes too,” I had rejoined with a huge smile.
Today she was not having an early morning mango feast, but just sitting in her easy chair, looking at the world pass by.
I was fascinated by the sight of a pup racing after a kitten, and the kitten had a look of intense dread on its face. After some time the pup stopped chasing the kitten; the kitten looked cautiously in her direction and realized that the pup was not an evil sort. After a while, I was ecstatic to see both of them playing I Spy You, with purrs and little barks of delight around the trees. So one battle was settled peacefully.
The pup and kitten belonged to two of the men, sitting among a knot of people on the front wall, involved in verbal duels, chunks of which fell into my ears too.
They were discussing politics, booster shots, weather, pets, food, the perils and advantages of online working, the migrant workers who had still not come back, and the concrete structures that were burgeoning all around.
But I believed the old woman’s ears were not listening to these sounds, she was probably hearing the sounds of the past. She had a misty, faraway look in her eyes. Was she recalling the first diffident steps of her kids? Was she remembering how she kissed away their bruises and boosted them onward after their first fall? Did they also own pups and kittens?
“Did you have your booster shot?”
“What scorching summer this year! ”
“Now this humidity!”
“There are no rains.”
“Will we have no rains?”
“A few raindrops tantalized us the other day, and stopped altogether.”
Why were these men folk not going for their walks? They were merrily sitting on the wall, dangling their legs, not exercising them. I almost felt a twinge of anger at their sloth, as it had taken me a humongous effort to get out of the bed. Why should they have all the fun? Well, walking was fun too, I reassured myself, walking on, serenaded by a koel.
Even the invisible koel, hidden in the foliage naively tried to trill down their chatter, nudging them towards their forgotten mission but realized it was not too easy a task, so fell silent.
Now it was the turn of the peacock squawking from the vacant plot which is used as a dumping ground by the people in the vicinity.
It craned its neck this way and that, wondering why its persistent squawks were not bringing the rains, but then brushing away its disappointment, it broke into dance.
A five-year-old child, holding on to his grandfather’s hand, heading towards the joggers’ park, was prattling away, when his eyes fell on the solo dance performance.
He stopped in his tracks and non-stop chatter, and tugged at his grandfather’s shirt, pointing towards the serenely dancing peacock, unfazed by the loquacious lot. Both stood under a tree, bewitched by the peacock’s serene dance steps. Letting go of his grandfather’s hand, he raced towards the dandy danseuse and watched, finger in mouth, happiness in eyes.
The gossip mongers on the wall were busy hurling banalities at each other.
“Mera sugar to badh gaya hai. Mai to chini khaata hi nahi hoon.” [My sugar levels have increased, although I have hardly any sugar.] One man said, popping a motichoor ka ladoo in his mouth.
“Yeh kya namak ka dhela hai?” [Is this a chunk of salt?] Another scoffed.
“Yeh prasad hai. Prasad ko na nahi kehtey.” [This is prasad, one does not say no to prasad] He added popping another ladoo into his mouth.
No longer able to watch this ladoo-popping scene, his companion snatched the paper bag from his hands, frantically rummaging in the packet for some leftover pieces. But alas, there was nothing there, only a few crushed pieces of half a ladoo. His eyes spewed fire, and his mouth flung the chicest abuses at the laddoo eater, who continued smiling with an impish twinkle, licking his lips.
“Petu kahin ka! [What a glutton!]
“Tu hoga petu.” [You are a glutton, not me]
The verbal battle would have continued, but just then a buffalo came into their line of vision, an egret merrily sitting on its back. This was enough to distract the warring duo. Peace prevailed somewhat on this battlefront.
I watched mesmerized as the vast expanse above me was steeped in the fiery brilliance of the newborn sun.
The sun-washed egret on the buffalo’s back fondly believing itself the monarch of the universe, looked around, arrogantly flaunting its sun-drenched splendour.
Just then the pup from the left and the kitten from the right attacked the buffalo with barks and meows. The egret flew away, wise enough not to get bothered by such audacious attempts at igniting wars.
The ladoo eater and the ladoo-deprived one quickly sprang to their feet and asked their pets to be silent [they happened to be their owners]. And the twosome huffed and puffed home, the kitten and pup in tow. The buffalo relieved that it had been saved from a Goliath vs David war, plodded on, sans the egret.
The black and white clouds holding hands rushed toward the east and watched awestruck as a fiery ball of fire burst forth from under a cloud cover, weaving vivid splashes of colour into newer patterns.
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