One evening I went to a mall nearby and was relaxing on an open top restaurant. It happened to be a full moon night and I sat looking at the moon, enjoying the cool breeze just taking in the beauty and feeling very peaceful. I was so lost in the scene that I became oblivious to the noise around. It had been a very long time I was so at peace with no thought in my mind – just one with the elements of nature. Then it suddenly hit me, how could I forget? I used to walk everyday at night, on the terrace after dinner for almost seven years till the day I started working which brought an end to these late night walks.
When did it start? When did I start walking? When in school my mom used to wake me at six in the morning to get milk. I would be very happy to go, irrespective of the weather, for in summer it meant the full bloom of Indian cork, Copper-pod & Gulmohar trees lining the road of our vicinity, roads under them covered in flowers and fog and icy breaths in winter. Then with my grandfather who took me for evening walks. And, during the tenth class examinations as with everyone of my age then, I prepared for them only in the last moment. Unable to find any quiet corner in our tiny apartment, with a guide in hand, I would walk up to the terrace of our apartment in the afternoons to study. Even though it was hot, I loved sitting under the water tank, listening to nothing but the wind and reading. My exams went well, and studying like this in a silent and lonely place became a habit. Slowly, I started searching for silent places to think, to walk, to relax & to be at ease. I soon knew all the parks, abandoned roads, forgotten alleyways, strips of land overgrown with bushes and trees in our locality. Before long, silent walks became a part of my daily routine. But, after I started working, all this changed. I did not have time to walk in the evenings or night due to my shift timings and slowly, not only did I fall off the habit but even forgot about it till the night in the mall. Rediscovering this that night, and subsequently finding some time to walk on the terrace of our apartment (with my wife) it pained how much I missed these silent breaks.
What did I actually miss? the walk or the silence? I guess both. They’ve always come entwined to me. And, what did I do during these walks? Nothing. Other than pep talk, a little singing, just staring into the horizon, I just walked. Fourteen years back when I started, I walked alone. Not even with a book in hand. Later, with my iPod, but hardly used it. Then when cell phones started permeating our days & nights, I took mine, but instructed my friends and family not to call me for those one-two hours. I hardly used any gadget I took with me. Walking around, I’d lose myself in the endless stream of thoughts in mind, observing but never indulging in one and probably thirty minutes into the walk it’s intensity came down and all the while I’d just register the stars, moon, trees, flowers or whatever piece of nature I could glean from the surroundings. Wasted time? Productive time? All I know is that these walks brought-in peace during some of the most tumultuous periods of my life.
After I started working, if lucky I would manage to steal fifteen minutes in a day and go for a evening walk more to stretch my muscles than to free my mind. In these fifteen minutes, colleagues who see me walking alone, ask me if I was alright? (Who would want to be alone, let alone go for a walk?) and I’d smile and reassure them that I was just relaxing. As they walked hurriedly past me towards their destinations, I was glad to find joy in the journey, in the walk and not just in the destination.
Do you walk? if so, why? If you don’t why not?