It was almost time for me to get down and proceed towards my home, to join the ones exiting out through the gate, and to empty some space for the ones who were entering in; the late risers. The park wasn’t actually so crowded that there wasn’t any space left, but it was time for me to leave.
Even the couple across the other corner, who took the bench fifteen minutes earlier, was ready to leave. They were finished with their morning dose of love. I checked through them a few times while they were involved in their business and one short last glance before they were leaving. The girl was cute, got cuter every next time I looked at her, and the guy…decent, I guess. I forgot to have a look at him, until he was gone. And he looked decent while sitting at the bike with his helmet on. If I could adore him for one thing, the helmet was it.
The birds above my head, which were not any more than two, that had been chirping melodiously since the morning had stopped as well. The disturbing loud honks coming from the school taxis that passed from the adjacent lane had replace them. The sun was up as well, enough that every time the swing took me a little high, the rays fell right into my eyes. I decided to give my feet some rest before beginning the walk back home, and take a break from the sun rays.
I wanted to stay there a little longer. The corner of the park I was in was a lovely spot. I adored it since the first moment I got in the park, earlier three days. The corner was one of the few reasons I had chosen to revisit the park. A broken swing that worked all well, with its rope hanging around an old big mango tree which the park community didn’t care to cut down. The leaves from the tree spread all around, providing a good cushion in case the rope breaks down. Not actually, but if it was heavier enough to take my weight without any cracking noise, I trusted it with my damn life.
There wasn’t any pavement around the corner either. It was a perfect peace spot, away from every nuisance happening around in the park. Also one could have a whole glimpse of the park from there. Not that I cared much about the people around, but then there were some girls, cute and pretty ones, and I wouldn’t lie. Every time my eyes took a break and roamed around, I tried my best to find one or two among the crowd. It was not a good day. The only two that they stopped on were with their guys. I was in no mood of staring them long enough and inviting any trouble for myself.
I loved the corner still, I loved it so much that I convinced myself to spend my whole day there, but no I was wrong about that as well. It had been only two hours, and I wanted to go home. The peace solitary spot did not remain the same as the clock hit eight of that morning.
‘Our Father, who is in heaven…’ Chants began to echo from the back of the park where I sat, loud enough for me to hear every word properly despite having an earphone plucked into my ear and the volume raised to maximum. There was a school at this side of the park, the one whose taxis were being a trouble back some time and now their morning prayer.
Their assembly ground was at the back of their building. Who in the world even keeps it there? Assembly ground is supposed to be at the front or inside the building quadrangle. If that school would have had it there, it would have looked a lot better. Or there was a possibility they did. I never roamed around the school premises to check where its head entrance was.
‘…Your kingdom come, Your will be done…’ I had two choices, to either get lost on the lyrics of Mockingbird that was on the play and ignore the prayer, which I would have absolutely done on any other day, or join into speaking it with the kids. The last time I remembered of saying the prayer was few months back at the school, before the farewell party. ‘…as we forgive those who sin against us…’ I closed my eyes and recited the words. I did not believe much in the rituals but I did believe in one thing. Either you do it properly or you don’t do it at all, so that if there’s anyone hearing, they don’t doubt your belief.
I am no morning person, I had never been and you can bet all your money on me ever turning into one. You will win it all. A noon person, if exists any category by such name, that’s where I will fall in, or the light that shines bright at the nights. I was the guy that took a small break at 4 am in the morning before proceeding towards the bed. Yet there was I, swinging in the park since six of that morning.
No, I wasn’t there because I fell in love with the spot and I wanted to check it once again, neither to hear the little kids crying over random stuffs inside the park or the kids crying beside the school building. I wasn’t there for the girls either, none of them were pretty enough to get me up at five in the morning, wait… they were, but I would never wake up at five for anything, I couldn’t. It’s something impossible for me.
If I ever had to wake up early some day, I would instead chose to stay up all night, and that’s what I did that day as well. I pulled another all nighter and then while sitting in the park I was sleepy. I even would have dozed off while the swing got a little slow, if it was not Linkin Park on the play. I needed to sleep badly, and that was another reason for I wanted to leave soon.
I took another swing, pulling my phone out of my pullover’s pocket and skipping over the song. The temperature was still low to start the day off, the sun rays weren’t much a bother but a comfort till the hour. They were no problem to me anyway. For I sat on the swing like it was some another summer day, wearing knee length shorts and a fancy pullover on my chest. I was required to put myself in the feeling of a summer morning.
The departure was postponed further, as I reached the last chapter of the book that was in my hands. The book, it was the main reason I was in the park that day. I had always enjoyed the good feeling I got after completing a book within a single day, and I wanted to go through those emotions again that day. I started reading the book on the previous night, continued with it through the whole night as the urge to finish it soon increased. That’s what is wrong with a good book; you don’t want it to end, as well as you can’t wait to finish it. The book that was in my hands belonged to the second one. I wanted to finish it as soon as I can, and the park, the very corner, was a good place for that. Though the couch at home was a better spot, but I didn’t want to risk my father waking up to see me with that kind of a book in my hands. It would have angered him, and ruined the day for both of us.
‘Everyone always lives happily ever after.’
I read through the last paragraph of the book. A smile crossed my lips as I reached the last word, I very much loved the satisfaction of finally completing it. Though I felt the ending could have been better, quiet dramatic one. Not everything is supposed to happily end. Yes, I wasn’t much into the romantics, but then again I wasn’t into any particular genre at all. In fact, I wasn’t even a reader. If anyone would come and ask me the one reason I read, I will start as, “I am a writer. I read because that’s the first rule of writing; read as much as you can.”
A good read has always been my kind of book, though I always read any book I could get my hands on. Throw me a hardcover, and I would even read the worst shit in the world that’s inside it. And that was mostly because I believed how you are supposed to know if a book is a good one or not, unless you have read it.
A good read is exactly how I would have described the book I finished that time. I enjoyed all the ups and downs the summer romance took me on since the moment I started it. The swing and the clothes helped add a flavor to that, but I couldn’t take the credit away from the author. Summer romances always felt cool to me. So much that the first time I received the book that was in my hand I wanted a summer romance for myself. Alas, the winter had just started and summer romance needed a lot more than summer.
‘Bharat Mata ki…’ The kids from the school bothered back, louder than the previous time. The assembly for the day was almost at the verge to end. They were done with their morning prayers, hymns and it was this last ritual slogan after the national anthem that was left.
“Jai…!” Another voice followed, clearer than the ones coming from the school. It felt almost like somebody spoke it for only me to hear.
‘Bharat Mata ki…’
“Jai…!” The echo was again in the air, with the exactly same voice being added to it. A female voice, a voice I felt I could recognize among the rest.
‘She has school today.’ That was the very first thought to rise in my head. ‘She’, was for a girl I met in the park the first time I visited. ‘She’ was another reason I was eager to visit there for one another time. But ‘She’ was not supposed to be here today. She and I had a chat the previous night where she mentioned that she would be going to her school that day.
‘Bharat Mata ki…’ The last call of the slogan hit my ears, as I removed the earphone from my right ear. It was actually louder than I supposed it to be.
“JAI…!” I added up my voice as well this time, raising my head towards the direction the other voice came from. I was fast enough to bring a bright smile over my face.
“You didn’t stand up for the anthem?” A girl standing next to the tree said. She was not at all the one I was expecting, not even any close to her, or anyone I had ever come across before.
“Excuse me?” The swing took me towards her and then back away from her, as I tried resting my feet to stop it from going further.
“I noticed you going through that prayer. So does it not make it obvious to think that you will go for the Jana Gana Mana as well?”
“And why would you be noticing me?” I asked, looking at her, closely for the first time since she stood there.
I was damn sure I had never seen her before. Her shoulder length hairs were new for me as well. I hardly came across anyone sporting a look like that. Her hair were wet, definitely another one of the late riser who woke up a while ago.
“Not you, but the swing.” She took a step further towards me, likely hoping for me to get off the swing for her, and stopped as I didn’t move. “I waited for fifteen minutes, but you don’t seem in any mood to leave it at all.”
“Yes sorry, I was getting down. It’s almost time for me to leave.” Two hours actually, it had been two hours since I sat there at the swing. And those two hours were long enough that there left no urge inside me to make this girl wait any further for it. I got up from the swing, putting my mobile back in the pullover’s pocket and moved towards the tree where my bag lay.
“Don’t you think you are too old for this?”
“I am hardly a month older than you.” I said, dusting the mud off the bag. She had already taken the swing, sitting over it like some little girl, as if it helped reduce her age to some extent, which didn’t. She was not as tall as me, but only a few inches smaller but that definitely didn’t make her any younger from me. That was a working day, and the fact that she was in the park instead of the school summed her up all around my age.
“Do guys read these kinds of books too?”
“That’s rude again.” I said, taking another look at the cover of the book in my hands, to assure myself I did not read a wrong one. It looked all normal to me, also one is not supposed to judge a book by its cover. “The one in front of you finished it right few minutes back. Why would you even say that?”
She stopped the swing and extended her hand to take the book from. “I didn’t mean to raise a question over your gender by any chance, but I have heard this one is damn cheesy for a guy to read. Anyway, you tell me, how is it?”
“I liked it,” I thought a second over saying something else, “but what I liked the most is the writing style.”
She raised an eyebrow with a smile, “Oh, so we got a writer here.”
“Bingo! At least I am trying to be one.” I had forgotten to pause the song that was on and the earphone hanging around my neck kept it playing it for me. “What about you? What do you do besides passing rude comments to strangers?” I asked taking my phone out and stopping the music. It was almost thirty past eight, and I found it no problem to spare another few minutes.
“I paint the ugly faces they make on hearing those comments.” She looked at me, her brown eyes pointing directly at my laughing face, as I looked at her hands. I have no idea why, but hearing that she was a painter made me feel she had colorful hands, which of course she didn’t. Her palms, were rather small, all curled inside her sweatshirt; two of her could fit in single one of mine.
“Paint their ugly faces. That’s interesting.” I tried to mimic her when I failed to have a comeback but her accent was different, hard for me to catch up. Plus, I was no good at mimicking. She ignored me through it and pushed towards the ground as she went through the synopsis of the book.
“Aarav Garg.” She flipped through the pages of the book and looked through a piece I used as my bookmark. An empty cardboard paper which didn’t suit good enough to be a bookmark. And thus I had designed it with my signature and name all over. “That’s a good name you got there. It sounds like some royal writer.”
“How in the world? You must be kidding!” I laughed as she engrossed further in the book. “What do you find royal about Aarav Garg?”
“Nothing, I just liked it. I am Saanchi by the way.”
“Saanchi…?” I stretched my hand to take the book back from her, hoping I could return her back with one same complement. I was still feeling good about her finding my name “royal”.
“Yours is a cool name too.” I didn’t get her last name at all, not as if it was hard to pronounce, but I didn’t pay attention to it. I was more focused on putting the book back in the bag, and lost in my name. Nobody ever said something like that before.
The sun rays now touched her face. Her hair dried up, except a little moistness one wouldn’t see, unless he gets close to her and touch her hair. Her feet, they were so ready to push the ground down for another stroke and take her higher than the previous swing. They looked so soft, as she struggled to remove the sandals off them before hitting them to the ground again…
I wanted to talk to her more, but I also didn’t want to misuse this liberty my father gave to me. I was expecting a call by him till then, but the mobile hadn’t rung at all. I was supposed to get back home before he changed his mind.
“You come here often?” I asked as I tried to synchronize my head with her movement on the swing.
“I don’t know. It’s my second time today, and I do not know at all how many more times I will be coming here.”
“Today was my second time here as well. And yes, I have no idea myself either. I mean this is a good place, but waking up early to be here. I doubt if I would be able to do it any time soon again.”
“Well, I guess I will come here tomorrow. I am anyways pretty bored at the home. There’s nothing at all to do here around.” She raised one of her hand to block the rays and continued, “Evening though, we could meet tomorrow again if you show up.” For a second it seemed like she winked at me, but did she though? She knew I wanted to meet her again. What other reason could there be for the change in her plans. I couldn’t say whether she did or not, as within the next few seconds her eyes blinked two more times. The sun up in the sky was the reason to that.
“Let’s see who gets to the swing first.” I nodded to her, inserting the earphone back in my right ear and taking the bag on my shoulders. “Bu-bye for now.”
“See you tomorrow.” She smiled back, waving her small hand as I walked towards the exit of the park.
*** Suggest any title that comes to your head after reading the first chapter ***