i ran

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i ran today. legs ached a lot more than yesterday. yesterday was the first day of running. legs were caught unawares i guess. they obviously didn’t expect that i’d wake up one day and start running. today they reacted temperamentally – lazy and tired. yesterday, i wore my brother’s track pants that accidentally slipped into my the bag last time i went home, and traveled all the way here. my brother is into sports, plays a lot. i don’t like the synthetic texture of the tracks. i wore them for the first time yesterday. people usually wear track pants while running.

i have a pair of sport shoes. not sure if they are running shoes, but they don’t look odd. thankfully i have a pair of ankle socks. if i were to run with my regular mid-calf length socks, i’d look odd. the shoes’ll look odd too. yesterday, the socks would have been invisible – the pants were long. today, i wore shorts instead of track-pants. these shorts are odd. they definitely don’t look like shorts for running. but i like the morning breeze against my legs.

the last leg of the run was especially straining. i had decided that i won’t stop till i reach home. the pace was visibly slower. i could see my house. on the first floor i could see a woman pacing on the veranda. i don’t see my neighbors much. i live on the second floor. a barsati. i don’t see them much, my neighbors. they look like newlyweds. as i reached closer, i could see that she was talking on the phone. i think she too saw me as she sat on the steps that led to my floor and continued talking, while looking. i imagined that i when i reach the steps, i’ll have to stop momentarily and she’ll have to move aside. my pace quickened and i ran rather deftly till i reached the gate. i took the first flight of stairs anticipating the scene that had played in my head. but she wasn’t there. as i climbed up the second flight of stairs, i could hear her talking on the phone from inside the house. the doors and windows were wide open. i should open them too, to let the little air and sun in. i did. i could sense a bihari twang in the hindi of the woman. sound travels very easily here. my girlfriend is sure that the couple downstairs is scandalised by us. at night i can hear their washing machine grumbling. sometimes their words float up to my room like apparitions.

i sat for while, calmed my breath, drank some water, slipped out of my shoes and slipped into my flip flops. i didn’t need to wear shoes to go have breakfast at a nearby joint. i had pooris, which were a bit too oily. this joint is new. a family that runs a general store next to it, started it recently. one of the brothers oversees the joint. all the brothers look strikingly alike. you can tell they are brothers. this guy is fatter than the rest and balding. there were some women standing at the threshold of the shop getting parcels. one looked different from the rest. younger, dressed in jeans and a shirt. she asked about something, came in, and took a seat at the far end of the small room. there are usually only men here. she was curious looking. perhaps because of her glasses which looked old, of another time. the kind that have been refashioned today into the trendy nerd glasses. i wanted to wear my grandfather’s glasses, before it became a fashion, or so i think. but my teary grandmother burned them in his pyre as he was so attached to them. perhaps more than he was attached to her.

we paid the bill at the same time, that girl with glasses and i. she paid at the counter and left and the owner’s eyes traveled with her for some time before he realised that i am waiting to pay. he was lost even when he took the cash from my hand. i turned around and my eyes fell directly on her ass. i looked away.

while walking back, i took the turn into my neighborhood. a young girl was walking ahead of me. she had a heavy back pack, i presume she had books. she looked like someone who has just joined college. she half turned and saw me. i guess she realised a man was walking behind her. her pace quickened and mine slowed down. she seemed to be watching me cautiously from the corner of her eye and walking anxiously. i felt mighty uncomfortable. she more so, or so i think. i thought of speeding up and overtaking her. then i’d be in the front. but then i decided against it. might look too dramatic. i just hoped that she’d take one of the other turns and leave that street. she took the last of turns and till then i kept feeling her eyes on me – or was i feeling my eyes on her?

all this happened yesterday. i didn’t think much about today. my legs kept me more occupied. oh and i forgot to mention, the mornings these days are beautiful. the early morning sun falls warmly on the body and gently on the leaves. the raintrees of this neighborhood stretch languorously against the clear blue sky and you are often greeted by a cuckoo or two. the abandoned railway track round the corner and the unruly growth of grass around gives the landscape a quaint feel. for a few moments it feels like the city has escaped you, or you the city. it’s only towards the end of the run, that you realise, in your exhaustion, that the city has gone nowhere. it was sleeping and is stirring out of it, into a hot summer wakefulness.