“I’m not alone” – the melody of Alan Walker plays in my ear as I begin my jog along the running track inside the gymkhana grounds. And I’m not alone indeed – men and women, boys and girls, teens and tweens – delightfully play in the vast quadrangle lined with trees wide open.
They are ahead of me and behind me, some playing, some exercising and some are just wandering around lost in the cool air that envelopes as together. As I approach the basketball arena, I amused by players maneuvering their hands and body to throw the sphere into the hoop. A hit and then two miss – and so it goes on. I tried throwing once in our hostel arena…I failed.
A light ball hits me in my reverie. It is a plastic air-filled ball. I look around and find a little boy coming towards me ever so slowly, yet as fast as his small steps allow. He smiles as he sees me kick the ball towards him. It misses him by a few inches. His face track the ball until it stops. He turns towards me, throws me another smile and runs towards the ball. I don’t know if he saw me smile back.
At one corner, a group of students are practicing some form of art or civil defence…I am not sure. I see them every day doing what they do with dedication. I wonder what it is but I soon find myself right in front of the pavilion approaching the football arena. Here I see some kids and men alike, trying to gain control of the one elusive ball. At the far end, some women are dong the same.
A guy, dressed in a jersey, pauses me requesting to jog outside of the cricket field. I notice that players have taken their positions as the cricket General Championship game is on. I happily oblige and go on. I see many toddlers and tweens playing with sand in a small square arena. I don’t really know the purpose of that sand area in one side of the field. But I am amused by the carelessness and activity that has descended on that rather little area, colonized by little frames. Their parents sit around chatting and gazing.
There is a hockey match going on too, beyond the small partition which seats many people, tired and refreshed alike. I see some men and women playing Frisbee beside the track. And boy, aren’t they loving it! Some men and a few kids practise cricket in the nets. I see some people sitting on the stair cases in pairs or groups of three, some are alone. I wonder what they are talking about, if they have come to cheer for their hostel in the cricket match.
The song in my ear has changed. “I’m afraid our aim is out of sight…” – I hear as a football comes towards me. I wonder if I should kick it back. I feel reluctant because I am not good at it. But I inevitable find myself kicking back the ball. A man, probably the goalkeeper, signals thumbs up as I look up. It makes me feel good…“Alive…” rings in my ear.
A few women have gathered near the metal stairs, furiously exercising as a group. One of them, lying apart, is doing pushups – I find myself counting. As she reaches ten, I realize I am about to step onto the field again. So, I change course and continue.
Last week, I had seen a professor from our department playing cricket with his daughter with a plastic bat and ball. The ball was mostly sliding along the ground, but her daughter hopped happily every time she would make contact. It was a bit amusing because I had mostly heard him talk about abstract scientific and engineering concepts till now. This, seeing him happy and vulnerable, was surprisingly refreshing.
Halfway through what I am sure would be the last round of today, I am beginning to feel a little tardy myself. I started this jogging just a few weeks ago. Before that I had not stepped here in the last two and a half years, other than for Mood Indigo PopularNite. But now that I come here regularly, this place refreshes me after a long day in lecture halls and labs. And I can be fairly sure that I’m not alone. This place is the true microcosm of IITB community.