Today I visited a park, a jogger’s park to be precise. It felt weird at first because last I visited one was when I was twelve years old I guess! At the age of nineteen going to a park seemed like a ridiculous idea to me. I mean what am I suppose to do where the oldies come for their stroll, kids to play and aunties to gossip.
There is nothing much that can interest a teen there. How wrong I was, a park is the closest one can get to nature in a busy city life. When I was seated on one of the benches that the park had to provide with my book in my hands, my ears rise up to the conversation of the two old ladies, talking about an accident one of them happened to witness on their way to the park. And then I commit the mistake of glancing in their direction, apparently that gave her a wrong idea that I was interested in their talks, sure I was listening but that was because they were way too loud and I could not just ignore! So yeah she got the idea that I am interested in the whole ‘how bad the accident was’ talk and so she recited the whole thing to me, giving those animated expressions as she went into details and the cinematic pause just to add to the effect. In this fast life where we do not have time to hold an actual conversation with our parents I held one with a complete stranger and I did not feel bad about it. It was weird yes, But in a good way.
Then the other ladies of their group arrived and she went on to tell them the same story. I was obliged to give then the bench I was sitting on as I walked to sit under a tree. Reading a book sitting in an air conditioned room with a steaming mug of coffee is my definition of good times. When I was left with the fine breeze, rustling of the leaves and chirping of birds add to it the laughter of kids I experienced something. Though I couldn’t quite place my finger on what that something was.
The surroundings were peaceful but not silent, since silence is what we usually consider peaceful to be. It had a calming effect on me. When I was engrossed in the book, cut off from the world around me, sound of someone’s laughter brought me or to put it differently called me back. It was little girl trying to balance a ball in her dress, between the fabric and her tummy. I don’t know how she found it so amusing because her care taker was pulling at her dress to get it out. And all she did is laugh as she tried to run away. She succeeded in balancing the ball and running away but too soon to say the ball came rolling down from her dress which fuelled her laughter.
The light in her eyes that portrayed innocence and her smile that reaches her eyes making them crinkle on the edges, it brought a smile to my face. I kept the book aside and walked up to her. She was a happy kid, welcoming too. She let me play with her ball while she batted the ball I threw her way, and then she signalled for me to pick her up, raising her hands in the air, I did just that. She guided me to a far end of the park which has a small pool, and no, it wasn’t filled with water, it was empty for the most part except some dirty water towards the far end, I was curious to know what if not water can get a child to a pool! Then she stretched her little arm and pointed to a small tortoise coming out of a small box that was located under the dirty water as she screamed in delight “tortorise”! I laughed then, not a shy giggle but a full blown laughter. That little kid amazed me. One time she is trying to balance a ball in her dress and trying to walk and act like a pregnant lady, she did not even know she is imitating and the other time she is here with me tracking the movements of the tortorise as she calls it. I played with her for a long time, the book long forgotten. She tried climbing the steps of a shade in different styles and ways and laughed when she missed one step and fell face first. She gave her million dollar smile to every one that approached or passed by her. When she had to go home, she came to me and asked her care taker to lift her up and then she touched my cheeks with those little palms of hers and gave a kiss.
Getting down on her legs she waves a goodbye and took off in the direction of her mom, the care taker trailing behind her. And I was left to wonder with my thoughts. When I was walking home I felt happy for no reason, not that I could complete my book! Then I realized what that happiness was all about, because I did something that is not part of my routine but part of me. I have always seen kids with those devil horns always asking questions and trying to mess with you but things changed, maybe I had closed my eyes and was content in believing what I thought was true. I also learned something from her today.
We adults have a way of complicating things for ourselves, we put on a smile when we are breaking inside just to show we are brave, we laugh but in limited proportions with a volume check just to show we are decent, we have crocodile tears when inside we are dancing with joy just to show we care! Hypocrisy is the word we give it today, we pull on a poker face when we are confused or disoriented to protect our sanity but what we are actually doing is giving away our emotions for sale, the rate society decides and the standards people decide. Why can’t we be child like and express what we feel instead of wrapping the truth in the falsity of societal standards.