I was on one of my post office errands. Cutting across the park, I enjoyed the silence and the flowers. Phlox in pinks and purples. Sweet Williams, ruby red - a flower I could never come to like. Nasturtiums, their eager orange heads bobbing through the slim-stalked leaves. Hollyhock looking like gawky teenagers who are suddenly unsure of what to do with their height. Even the yellow neem leaves strewn across the path seemed to dance around. The freshly cut grass smelt the way it should. Things were moving, at the unhurried pace of a groggy morning.
There were adolescent boys playing badminton in the street. Fluorescent racquets. A pitiable shuttle cock. A lot of swearing. Two teams. Puppy fat waiting to be lost. Heavier voices waiting to be broken into. Each team threatened the other into submission. Nasty hits were met with nastier ones. The imaginary boundaries were negotiated at each point. Services kept. Services lost. A car came but was made to take a U-turn and find another route. The swearing continued in a jovial that's-the-way-we-communicate-yaar way. A lot of testing of The Testosterone if you may.
Suddenly I heard a shrill bell. It was a girl on a cycle. No more than eight years old. She had pigtails with blinding blue ribbons. A tracksuit the colour of the DTC low-floor green buses. Parrot green. A determined frown on her face. Her cycle had a basket in front with a sipper (!) and biscuits (!!). Hearing, the bell, a strange calm fell over the boys.
"Bhaaago yaar. Aaa gayi humara shuttle cheen ne. Yaar ye kabhi khelne nahin deti. Chudail."
I never realized so much could be done in a second! The boys disappeared, net, shuttle and racquets in hand. By the time pigtails reached the spot, she had the street to herself. She stopped at the place where the boys had been playing. She purposefully rang her bell twice and sure of no tresspassers on her turf, she steadied herself. She looked around once more and then raced an invisible friend to the end of the street.