The park bench

A Sunday evening stroll at the Aditya Vatika Garden. Photo courtesy: Poyani Mehta

A Sunday evening stroll at the Aditya Vatika Garden. Photo courtesy: Poyani Mehta

Text & Photographs by Poyani Mehta

It is around 6.30 pm on a Sunday evening. I am at the Aditya Vatika Garden at the centre of N.D. Road, Nepean Sea Road. There’s a gust of hot sultry air against the backdrop of a turbulent sea. The garden is filled with visitors from the neighbouring building and slums. I see bare feet, slippers and walking shoes going swish- swash, pitter- patter against the bricked ground marching straight ahead.

Sitting on a vacant bench I saw an old man with a walking stick, holding his grandson in his arms. Pointing his stick towards the flowers and birds in the sky he murmured away, the baby with curly black hair and twinkling eyes, watching all.

I see young boys and girls of varied ages racing towards the swings, slides and jungle gym, a few kicking at a ball and a few starting to play catching cook screaming and shouting aloud in glee.

Glancing towards my left I see ladies from the neighbouring area clad in colourful saris of green, red, pink, yellow prints, with big red sindoor on their foreheads sitting on the bricked ledge in a circle, hands flying around in the air in excitement, talking away animatedly about the day’s happenings in their households.

I see two little girls of age four or five, wearing a pink and red frock running as if in a race as to who would be the first one to sit on the swing.

Crows and magpies are hopping and pecking away at small insects on the green grass and squawking. Looking up I see hundreds of kites flying in the clear blue sky. I see that the gardener had sheared the trees and shrubs and the colourful flowers like the frangipani and roses were swaying in the gentle breeze.

I feel the lift of a slight cool breeze in the salty warm air and could hear the lashing foamy waves against the black rocks. My ears caught the soft murmurs of people speaking in English, Hindi and Marathi.

A lady in a bright yellow sari kept on staring at me while taking her rounds. Loud sounds from the blowing whistle of the watchman could be heard at a regular interval telling children not to walk on the green grass.

The park bench - the most prized possession. Photo courtesy: Poyani Mehta

The park bench – the most prized possession. Photo courtesy: Poyani Mehta

I see many serious walkers taking their rounds, for instance a lone walker or two with mobile in hand listening to music, three ladies in jogging track pants and a tee shirts on a brisk walk , a family comprising of mum, dad and child walking at a slow pace, two ladies wearing saris, one with headphones and the other wiping her perspiring face with her handkerchief.

I get up to take a stroll, I notice a group of elderly ladies wearing colourful nauvari saris sitting on a couple of benches enjoying talking amongst themselves.

As I am about to leave the garden I see the orange-yellow hues of the setting sun against the late evening sky and from the corner of my eye, I see our just vacated bench already has a new member, the lady in the yellow printed sari.

About our writing program student:

Former librarian of Gopi Birla Memorial School, a Storyteller, actor in children’s theatre with The Secret Passages Storytellers and The 3 Musketeers, a team member of The Peek A Book Children Lit. Festival, Poyani enjoys baking, is very for of animals, music and travelling. When she’s not busy with work, she likes to spend quality time with her 11-year-old daughter. She occasionally likes to write travel stories as well.

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