In the mornings, the earlier I enter the colony park, the better it is – not many joggers, walkers or lazy strollers are around to occupy the walking trail and affect my flow. On some days, however, the later I enter the park it feels better because I can see life happening and many familiar faces, motions, sounds and stances.
Once I conquered my unfounded fear of the pack of dogs who ‘own’ the alley leading up to the park from my residence (and it took me a good three years), I became a regular there. Since then, I have thrice had an opportunity to marvel at the shoe mending skills of Kadam, the mobile cobbler of Salt Lake, as he worked on my decade old black Reeboks which had been sparingly donned before my fitness walks began during Covid!
The unique pace at which every walker goes about her business in the park also means that unless a few of them intentionally huddle up (and many elderly males do that) and occupy the entire breadth of the walking circuit, one can walk a straight and steady path, alone.
So it was a bit of a surprise one morning, when I heard matching paces right behind me. The flip-flops were in resonance with my thud-thuds, threatening to steal the attention away from my daily accompanier – Late Pt. Jasraj’s mellifluous Govinda Damodar Madhaveti, whispered through my mobile. Resolute to protect my auditory choices, I increased my walking pace, but the adamant distraction stuck like a Fevicol. I slowed down to give way, but there was no taker.
There was no ignoring the stalker now, and it was only the comforting presence of a swarm of walkers in the park that kept me going. With all due regards to Panditji and Lord Krishna, my mind had wandered by now and was in alternating naughts and crosses of annoyance and fear.
A skipping heart meant one of the scheduled rounds of the park was skipped, and I exited the gates for my residence. The stalker followed.
Back in the safe precincts of my residence, I suddenly turned around and faced the stalker.
I dialled Kadam later that day, seeking an appointment.
PS – Is there a phantom stalker running your life?