Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Morning Walk

Spring has barely arrived and already it threatens to depart in a blaze of heat.  The cultivated beds are still full of flowers but the vibrance of winter has gone.  With the trees, however, it is a different story.  They are now filled with colour and life - birds and insects flutter in and out of them and noisy squirrels run along the branches, squeaking excitedly.  The morning walks in the park close to my house continue and I can now discern a pattern in the early hours that the park witnesses.

A stout man and his wife often come out to walk soon after sunrise.  They are joined by another man, well clad, who goes about sprinkling some powders at the base of each tree.  Then there appears a large, looming lady whose clothes smell of old cupboards and mothballs and who brings seed for the birds and strews it all over the lawn.  Pigeons flutter down soon after her arrival and approach the grass greedily.

About a quarter of an hour later, an elderly, athletic lady comes to do the rounds dressed in a smart 'Patiala Polo Club' jacket.  She nods pleasantly and thanks us for giving her way as she strides briskly along, her arms swinging in an uneven fashion, bent perhaps due to arthiritis or injury.  I wonder if she has ever played polo.  She looks sporty (and aristocratic) enough to have done so in years gone by.

A couple of maids arrive, plastic packets in hand, and bend over the earth picking up some tiny green stalk-like objects.  Today I decide to ask one of them what they are doing.  The lady stands up and smiles, explains that they are picking tender buds of the manga tree (a tree that is presently covered with beautiful white flowers), these makes a delicious vegetable, she adds and gives the recipe.  I smile and she bends down again, resumes her work painstakingly.  I notice that they never shake any buds off the tree, just gather whatever they find on the ground.

The sun is up now and it is almost time to go home. On the last round I see the maid who walks a pet beagle each morning and evening.  They pass by silently, stopping at the stretch of bottlebrushes and I always feel a twinge of sadness when I see that the beagle's eyes are perpetually closed.  Can he see?  What happened to him?  I'm afraid to ask.  But he seems to be protected and well taken care of.

And so I leave them and turn homewards, also leaving behind me the chirping sparrows and the solitary kite that makes an occasional circuit of the sky.  All is as it should be in the park this morning- at least that's what I like to think.

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