The lady in the Pink sari smiled at me while patting her three year old son’s back. The child’s shrill crying rent the air. He was inconsolable. The lady in Pink told me that the little one was very unyielding if he cried. He won’t stop till you threaten him with an injection syringe that the doctor would come and prick him.
I went near the little cutie and asked with a grimace-“what’s up, dear”? The mother blurted out-“He is very stubborn. Today in the morning his father just rooted out a small plant. He started crying from then because it carried his favorite flowers”.
I looked at the face of three year old boy, stains of tears so fresh on his countenance- still choking within the sobs. The boy offered one arm towards me in an attempt to come within my arms. Well, I took him, wiped away the tears and asked him to smile. The children in my neighborhood are very naughty. If one cries for planting an already uprooted blossoming plant, the other for joining a broken twig with the same offshoot of the tree.
The park overlooking my house is a favorite destination of all the kids of my locality. Cricket, bowling, batting….. Oh my God. The pitched voices when somebody was out, the arguments over a catch create flutters in my heart.
The three year old in my arm wanted a cop and doc for the flower plant, which his father had angrily deracinated over a quarrel with his mother. The plant was brought as a sapling, and rooted when the boy was toddling. His father would take shots with his newly bought Japanese camera, by placing the baby near the plant. The mother of the boy watered the plant as the boy wanted every flower of the plant.
The boy prattled in my ear with his usual childish desires -“uncle, a Cop should come over and take my Dad and a Doc should attend to the plant”. Well how could I explain that docs and cops are very busy and cannot attend such cases? The boy would cry again.
The park before my house is lined with trees .Some of them are very tall-Coconut, Palm. Well the Banyan trees look as if in meditation……..squatting on the land. The nature spreads its magic wand when the plants are full of flowers. The colors of the flowers mixed with multiple hued shirts and pants of the children weave the magical mosaic of my imagination. I sit on the bench placed between the trees and keep on staring at the sprinkling of water on the plants by the gardener.
What’s wrong with our septuagenarian gardener? He complains that the saplings very often wither despite his best efforts. He grumbles-“God has forgotten the cycle of seasons or what sahib? Why it rains late? Why don’t we not need a blanket in the mid of winter? Why does the summer stay longer than it’s usual? Why does it rain only little bucketful of water in the best of monsoon”?
He says it is due to Kali yuga -the evil epoch of present time. I am absorbed in my silence.
“Has God forgotten nature”- He asks?
The sweeper of the park then chips in with another remark. “No”-He says-“it’s all the sins of big people. That’s why our mother nature is gnashing her teeth. We get pieces of information that the park would not be there as the roads are being widened. My poor gardener-his only son expired before a few months.
The one way traffic running just before my house would be converted into six-lanes. We hear plans are afoot to make the roads more beautiful. The boy in jeans and white shirt keeps on explaining many people that the lanes would have big hoardings with electric posts in the middle. He claims that the streets would outdo the streets of Mumbai. Ah! Now I recognize him. He works for an Ad company. He stays in house under the flyover. The other day he complained to me that he could not sleep because of the constant honking of vehicles. His only daughter is always sick. She coughs and sneezes and complains of chest pain.
The other day when I drove past the clinic of the only Homeopath in my area, I saw a banner atop the roof of the building. It declared-“FREE DIABETIC CHECK ON THE WORLD DIABETIC DAY”! The slouching frames of septuagenarians and octogenarians find it difficult to wade through the fuming vehicles which hardly give a respite to the streets. Forget the morning walk and free, pure Oxygen to their brain cells. The auto driver confides in me that he carries at least ten patients to the psychiatrist’s clinic everyday.
Lands are getting costlier. Foundations of the building are dug just after ten inches of the boundary walls. Oh my God, it’s so hot, before ten to twenty years we did not need ceiling fans in the summer. Now in summer the windows are shut while the air conditions hum……..
The boy clung to my heart and gave a piercing cry-“I want a cop and doc for my tree”.
I stood leaning on my balcony and saw the green horizon was gone and the concrete monster was stepping ahead.
Kapila Prasad BDA Colony,