I take my kid sister to the local park occasionally. The park is situated quite close to my house. It’s the one next to the over bridge. The kids flock there everyday, though you might probably see more of them in the evenings. The elders do the usual “walk-in-the-park”. The park is half done actually. There is an open field in the center. The walking track runs along its perimeter. The swings, see-saws and the others are at one end. Lots of benches around.
On one such evening, I sat on the favorite bench of mine, located within the playing area. My sis went on to slide down the slide. I watched the other kids quarrelling over the swing. Time went by. A smartly dressed little boy came and asked if the skipping rope on the bench was mine. I looked at it and said, “No. Not mine.” He said, “I’ll take it then”.
I replied, “You cant do that! It might be someone else’s. They might come for it later”.
A young girl came by and said that it was hers and took it away.
The little boy sat next to me.
“I have a comb”, he said. Taking it out, he brushed his wavy hair like he’d never done it before.
Now, this little guy spoke in half English and half Kannada.
“What you are doing?”, he asks. “Sending mail?”
Yours truly was messaging. I looked at him and said, “Yes”.
“To whom ya?”
He puts his little hand over my shoulder. Me, being me, gives a start. I say to myself- God, Thej, he’s just a little boy. I relax.
“I’ll also mail to my friend! You do ya, I’ll tell”.
He dictates something childish and I pretend to “mail” it. He laughs in an animated way. I smile at him. He sits closer to me. “Will you be my friend? I like making friends.”
“Hmmm .. ok”. “Which standard are you in?”, I ask.
“Hmmm? Which school?”
“Oh.. ok.. Which subject do like?”
“Drawing! I draw nice.”
“Really? What do you like to draw?”
“I draw houses... nice houses!” “I climb that and show you wait... “, so saying, he gets up and tries his hand at the alphabets or something.
I smile at him.
He comes back and sits on my other side. He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear.
“With whom have you come here?”, I ask him.
“My Grandma. My Mom is not free. She does cleaning work at houses. Cleaning! Ha ha ha!”.
I just smile again.
His Granny comes by and asks him if he’ll come along. He replies that he’s with a friend and that he’ll come later.
“ He likes talking to elders. Don’t mind. He doesn’t like playing with the other kids much”, she says.
“Its ok... No problem!”, I assure her. “I’ll be on the corner bench, ok son?”, so saying, she leaves.
Patting my knee, he says enthusiastically, “You come to my home. I will show you my drawings. I got prize also!”
“That road, go straight, take right, left there is my home. When will you come? Tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.. I’ll see.”
By this time, I message a few of my friends saying, “I am in a park and a little boy comes and puts his hand over my shoulder.” One of them suggested that I punch him in the nose, to which I had to reply that the boy was in kindergarten. The other, who was not in station, called me pronto. I explained to him that the little boy was, well, little. I even made him talk to the boy. The few words the little guy spoke was “Ok... ok...”. My dear friend, content that it WAS indeed just a little boy, bade good bye to me.
His hand back on my shoulder, he asks, “Will you come to the park everyday? What time?”
“Around 5:30... around this time in the evening”.
“Come early ya... ok? I will also come.. we’ll sit and talk. Ok ya?”.
“I’ll try.. “
“You come to my home ya..”
The sky gets darker. Getting up, I take his hand and say, “Come, we’ll search for my sister.”
I find her with a group of kids, more or less of her own age, playing in the middle of the field. I tell her, “Stay here. I’ll leave him with his Granny and be back. Don’t go anywhere, alright?”.
My astute sis, “Who is he?”
“Tch! Tell me .. who is he?!”
One of her friends exclaims, “Oh this boy!? He is my father’s friend too!”.
I say, “There! See, I told you he’s my friend.”.
“Come on.. “ , I tell him.
My sis and her friends tag along.
We walk around the park... He spots his Granny.
“Hope he dint give you trouble.”, she says.
“None at all... He talks a lot though!”.
I turn to him and say, “Bye bye!”.
I call out to my sis who lingers near the unknown boy. She asks yet again, “Who is he?”.
“I told you, he is a friend of mine.”.
“Tch!”, comes her reply.
The following two days, even though I went to the park and sat on the same bench for hours, the little boy dint turn up. I sat there, thinking about him. I thought of how free and out spoken he was... how easily he made me feel comfortable. If you know me in real life, you might understand what I mean.
While typing out this blog entry, I texted my friend requesting him to search for the message I’d sent him nearly a month ago and to give me the exact date. He digs through the archives of my thousand odd messages to him and replies, “27th”.
So, it was on 27th of March.
I’ve been thinking of, for loss of a better word, penning this down for days. I finally did it.