I recently moved in a new building away from the heart of Mumbai. Even though it’s a beautiful convenient residential complex, it was an unpleasant change for me. I am away from the sea view, my favourite bookshops and cafes. Over the years, I had mapped a set of routes for my morning and evening walks. I wouldn’t go every day, but there was always somewhere peaceful to go when I needed to break away for a few moments from life.
My new apartment is near a highway and next to a construction site. There is a constant cloud of dust and noise of machines. After long day of work, the only tiny break I could get was a walk in my society near the pool and a small garden.
This building has more children than anywhere I have lived before. This is a pleasant change with all the positive energy they bring. But at times they can get annoying also. There are three play areas near my walk route.
My evening walks coincided with the play time of kids, that hour of restless energy just after the sunset when the sky is still blue, the kids are well rested after their afternoon siesta and excitedly waiting for the parents to return home from work. The playground is filled with joy and cheer.
One fine day, I met the 2-year old daughter of a family friend in the playground. She showed me around her play area and her favourite activities. We spent a few fun moments before she went back.
She started to recognise me after a couple of days. I would meet her almost every alternate day in the playground, mostly just following her instructions and trying to ensure her safety. It soon became the favourite part of my day. She would almost always start with the swing. She is an adventurous and courageous kid. She flies high and fast. I can see the swing from the lobby of my building. Even before I enter the playground, I could see her flying and hear her laughter. Often I would directly go to the playground on my way back from work.
On my difficult days at work, I wouldn’t be able to wait to reach back and hear her laughter. Her childlike wonder and joy opened my heart. She gets excited just looking at the water fountain or jumping in the pool or swinging. She walks around with not a care in the world. I learned to laugh more and smile more.
Every time I come back from work and she is not there, I take some time to recover and fill my evenings with other activities. I dread the days when I come back from office to find an empty swing.