He has to lose five kilos before Beauty aunty’s daughter comes visiting. He has heard she is a small-time model and will be sure to look down on him if he doesn’t lose the flab from all his interesting areas. He does crunches in bunches for an hour every evening and when mosquitoes start being menacing, he even shoots a few punches. Okay, excuse the rhyme, but he is an inspiration for little junior in the block, who has also started regular jogging. The eight-year old is participating in the annual sports-festival in school and he wants to nail a few events. He needs to give it back to over smart dude in section C who thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers and more importantly, the apple of madam’s eyes.
Once upon a time – some two months ago – she would primarily come for a quick kuchee koo. He would find some excuse for a trip to the market at six and come flying to the park.They would sit and whisper sweet nothings to each other for a bit before objections from the older crowd would become very audible. But the last she heard from him, he had a new birdie. That’s no reason to give up your delicate figure darling – her sister had cajoled. So she now comes to walk, dressed in a body hugging pair of shorts, much to the delight of most men doing the rounds in and outside the park.
The Sharmas come along to please their little grandchild, sweet kid that he is. He never goes anywhere without his Dada and Ma – that’s what he calls them – and every evening, he picks up a football and tags them along for a walk.They walk for a bit but can’t keep up with him for too long, owing to arthritic knees. But it is a pleasure watching him play with his ball and try a hand at the swings. One day, Dada had persuaded Ma to try the jhoola a wee bit. Incidentally, it had even started raining and both had blushed beetroot red when saawan ke jhoole played on the radio later that night.
For the dogs of course, the park is home. Lying on the dewy grass, they would watch the sun rise in the morning. Now that it is summer, they mostly remain asleep at sunrise, too snug to wake up that early. But evenings are fun, with the balls and the yells and the gossip. One of them has recently overheard a piece of news about a doggie parlour and the latest mission of the canines is to trace it out. An influential member (he had once been a luncher at a Colonel’s house) has promised he can get them free services.
A butterfly fluttered and came to sit on my palm. Looking around the walkers in Mela-Ground Park, South Delhi (it’s called thus owing to the Durga Puja festival it hosts), I smiled and let it stay. I recalled only later how Mom says a butterfly is a harbinger of marriage.