Though I admit that I prefer solitude or a company of one or two friends most of the times, there invariably are times when I get bored being in company of myself and there are no friends around to seek the immediate meeting. In those times, my hands automatically search for my ipod shuffle, and the feet effortlessly march towards the nearby garden. And why not! There are so many signs of life in the garden that one can hardly remain aloof – plants and trees dancing to the tunes of the wind, children running around and playing all sorts of games, elder people chatting or indulging in the laughter sessions and joggers performing their routine. Today being one of those days, I end up in the garden looking for revival of my mood.
I find an empty bench to sit on. The sun is fast winding up its day behind my back. While my ipod sets into rhythm of its own, the gardener comes and turns on the rotating sprinkler to water the lawn. The spread of the sprinkler is little more than what is required so it succeeds in spraying the benches in the opposite row. One of the benches is occupied by two little girls, 5-6 years old I assume. They try to duck the water but break into laughter whenever the water wins the duel. Their giggles and the resultant unadulterated joy attract attention of everyone present there. Aware of this attention, they blush which makes the whole act even more attractive.
On the right side of them, three friends, a couple and their male friend, are busy performing their own part. The man of the couple collects some green leaves lying nearby and makes a bandana out of it. He puts it on the head of his love interest. The lady then mocks a winner of a beauty pageant. She is crowned as the beauty queen and her friends cheer her. Her happiness makes me wonder if she really was crowned Ms World or Ms Universe or something like that. Thinking more about it, she is really the beauty queen of her own small world! Every man is a king, every woman is a queen. You do not require crowns of pearls and diamonds to realize that. A bunch of leaves can do that for you. Your kingdom is around you. After all, the best kings and queens rule the hearts.
My mind soon travels from palaces to playground as I notice some children playing. All of them are involved in ball games. The youngest of them are playing with light inflated rubber ball. They pass each other the ball with their tiny hands and run for it on their tiny legs if somebody fails to catch it. If a new kid comes, they include him without any hassles and the game goes on. The situation is different with the elder children, though they are also playing similar ball game. I get the impression that they are school going children. Everyone tries to throw the ball the farthest, everyone tries to be first to catch it and no one wants to pass it or include a kid who is not familiar. I cannot help but thinking if our education system has something to do with it. We have made it so competitive that every situation is being looked at as a race or competition and we have forgotten the idea of community or sharing. Probably those younger children can teach us more about it.
A kid cuts short this race of thoughts. He comes running, shakes hands with me and then repeats the ordeal with others. His shoes dazzle with green and red lights as he stamps the floor. After shaking hand with one person, he looks around, finds yet another person to shake hands with, smiles at him and runs towards him. There is no caution in his steps, just long and carefree steps. Like a branch of a wild tree which grows unabatedly without any notion of boundary or limit, the kid follows his heart and extends his warmth to everyone. With a delightful coincidence, my ipod plays Taare Zameen Par.
A puddle elsewhere meanwhile continues its pleading for consideration. The shadows of the trees make its water green. A few yellow flowers are bathing leisurely in it. A kid comes running and splashes water around by jumping frenetically inside the water. His mother, not amused by his undertaking, comes and scolds him but is unable to drag him out of the water. While the kid continues frolicking, his mother looks worried and keeps babbling about cleanliness and health. Pity us grown-ups: the kids have all the fun while we remain apprehensive about the surroundings.
In a flash the heavy wind blows up, bringing the dark clouds of rain. Umbrellas are open and those without one start searching for cover. The rain pours in buckets and tanks now while I remain standstill on the joggers’ track. It’s the sheer joy of catching rain, like a chance meeting with a long lost friend or an unexpected gain! Water trickles down my head and face and makes its way inside my clothes. A chill runs down my spine and the body is shaken uncontrollably but I refuse to give up my position. The ipod has uncanny knack of playing the right songs and it does not fail to exhibit terrific timing this time also. It plays Gunja Sa Hai Koi Iktaara. Eyes closed, I listen to the song as well as the sound of the rain and I feel as if I am transported to some different world. I am completely drenched – outside from rain and inside from the bliss. It is inevitable that the mind is impregnated with a seed of a dream. The words of Baawra Mann Dekhne Chala Ek Sapna fill my ears and the heart.