When I start my morning walk, the first person I come across is the garbage picker, who will be rummaging the Dustbin to lay his hands on something worthwhile which will fetch enough for a cup of coffee, nay cigarette ! Then I meet the short and stocky maid waddling to her place of work down the road, stopping for the briefest of moments to greet me with a broad smile and enquiring how I am. Sometimes she extends her halt for a minute or two with an express purpose of advising me not to walk in the hot sun lest I lose my ‘fair’ complexion (anyone who is even a shade lighter than her is considered fair). Her words though amuse me give me a vicarious momentary pleasure! Once I spotted her having coffee at the road side eatery and she immediately got up and asked whether I would like to have a cup too and I politely refused, though touched by her gesture. Then there is this other maid, tall and lanky who appears to sway with the wind, literally racing down the road, not because she would be late for work but to avoid confrontation (read thrashing her on the middle of the road) with her alcoholic abusive husband who seems to be on a hot chase to grab her savings safely deposited on her person.
On the road side pavement just adjacent to the bus stand sits the pan chewing woman selling tender coconuts, who beckons me to buy one and enjoy the cool drink saying, ‘good for you amma, it will keep you cool the whole day’.Once I stopped to have a chat with her and was surprised at her self pride in leading an independent life, having snapped relationship with her three sons who she said were all henpecked husbands and didn’t care for her.
On my way back I meet the old watchman who is heading home, carrier in one hand and a towel in the other.He notices me from a distance of 50 yards or so, stands in attention and brings both his hands together,( the carrier and the towel will be dangling ), bends a little, waits for me to come face to face and enquires with a smile “ saukyama, ayya saukyama” in Tamil. I feel touched at his query.
What I dread most during my walk is the speeding vehicular traffic, the more expensive the four wheeler, the more arrogant and haughty is the behavior of the driver(which includes the young and the middle aged) who cares two hoots for the pedestrians’ safety. Another pests are the ‘pet walkers ’who appear concerned about making their pets happy at the expense of walkers’ safety. On one of the occasions where an over sized pet was being taken for a walk( by the male servant) and the ferocious looking dog came so close to me that it started pulling my sari and I had to suddenly wrench my sari from the wretch. When I admonished the dog walker, he looked daggers at me saying in Hindi, ‘kutch kiye nai naa’. I thought his dog had better sense than this heartless human!
I thanked my stars that it was my sari that was torn and not my skin!
n.meera raghavendra rao