Back after a few days of Sun n Sand at Goa. Fever must have struck me last Wednesday itself; I realized it after I felt the water to be very cold. This was my first visit to Goa when I behaved like an oldie and walked on the beach instead of swimming. Today morning also looked doubtful, but, Avnish’s comment about the sunflowers did the trick. I decided to do it today. Biscuit took his time with his morning walk, my daughter must have gotten over her jet-lag; she slept through my calls and Biscuit’s face-wash.
Despite my being not fully up to it decided to run; the moon was absent, maybe, sleeping off the late night Christmas revelry. The stars seemed to be bravely holding forth, much like what the enthusiastic senior school students do when standing in for teachers on the teacher’s day. It was pitch dark and even the early morning tuition kids were conspicuous by their absence. The street dogs were up early today and were trying to keep warm by practicing hand to hand combat on a sand dump, much like the Australian team practicing rugby before the Boxing Day cricket test.
The trees on either side of the road shrouded in darkness looked like a Russian guard of honour, an occasional truck from the opposite direction lighting up the trees. A train on the track at a distance was going with the whistle constantly hooting, much like a young kid whistling to avoid showing his fear of darkness. Today my singer friend seemed to have taken a day off.
I lumbered along the steep climb from KM 3 to 4, my throat drying up and legs feeling like lead. The thought of another 26 KM of this looked daunting. I took two big gulps of water from my bottle and plodded on. The lone electric bulb announcing the all night petrol bunk at KM 5 was valiantly fighting off the darkness and looked very welcome. Two HT electric poles looked like my wife and daughter with hands on hips reminding of my foolishness in taking on the elements today. Further down the road, the series of HT electric poles with heavy wires running through them seemed like the chained prisoners at the deck from the movie Ben-Hur. A tall Mobile tower with antennas’ looked like the drummer beating a slow march in deference to my state of health.
I reached the Sai baba temple between near KM 7. The doors were closed and a single oil lamp was flickering in the hope of surviving till the presiding deity woke up to sunlight. I said a silent prayer and moved on. At KM 8, the number of people gathered to fill up drinking water was very few today. I could make out the form of the mosque at a distance; it seemed to be pleading for tolerance amidst the many temples playing devotional music around it. There was no sign of the moulvi or the dog with one ear. The bus stand and the tea shop before KM 10 wore a deserted look. I had taken one hour and 5 minutes to cross the first one third of the distance; hope I am able to complete my tryst with the sunflowers today.
The horizon had surreptiously changed colours and crimson hue announced the Sun’s imminent arrival. A lonely dog sat facing east to welcome the Sun. The Sun furtively peeped out as if, having escaped from the cold north, it was thankful for an easy posting in the south. The short variety of cotton plants looked like sticks with spit globules stuck on them. An old man completed the picture walking effortlessly from the opposite direction with a bulky bushel of maize balanced on his head. He was singing as he walked swinging both his arms. His wide smile warmed my heart.
Between KM 12 and 13 I saw a fenced up barren plot proclaiming ‘This property belongs to…’ akin to a lonely speculator amidst the toiling farmers fields around it.
Trucks were now approaching without their headlights and I could make out the drivers in the cabin. Few of them waved me on. A tractor trailer emitting copious smoke and belting out local music looked like a B-town double of Dev-Anand of 60’s unmindful of the ban on smoking scenes now. I had laboriously made my way to KM 13 and the sunflower patch was within striking distance.
I discovered a small patch of young sunflower plants, between KM 13/14, fully resplendent ahead of my regular sunflower patch. They looked like having woken up in their Christmas finery, which they did not have time to take off after the late night revelry. They seemed to be pleading with the Sun to be allowed to stay on in their new clothes a little longer. The regular sunflower patch had not woken up to the Sun and stood with their heads bowed, as if they were repenting their excesses of the previous night, and were wary of the approaching mid-terms. A few Jowar cobs which had escaped the farmer’s scythe in the plot next to the sunflower patch had two crows sitting on the cobs rubbing their noses to the cob. They looked like they were testing the mike and were waiting to break into their version of the song ‘Kolaveri Di’ once I turned my back on them. Having reached the half way mark and having seen the sunflowers made me happy, but, the thought of running back as much distance scared me. I had taken one hour and 35 minutes for covering half the distance, the slowest so far by me.
The scattered sunflower plants between KM 13 and 14 looked like wandering kids who have come out to play without changing from their previous days clothes. How I missed these plants in my earlier runs or if they had suddenly flowered during my 4 day break last week is a mystery, they however, made my run worth the effort today. The Eagle was not visible today, maybe, it didn’t want to shame me on my poor run today.
The markers of the telecom companies showing the location of their OFC cables at KM 13, gave an impression of corporate honchos of telecom companies planning their post-bail strategy away from the media glare and the rough and tumble of Tihar Jail.
The Muslim kids at KM 10, my regular fans, gave me a high 5. Some more crowds of people had gathered with coloured plastic pots for collecting water at KM 9 now. Freshly turned plot of the maize harvested field between KM 8 and 7now glinting in the sun gave the impression of a pre-maturely aged mother, resigned to another round of bearing and rearing.
The warming sun set my frozen hands tingling and I could feel the heat on my neck. Sai baba was resplendent in his finery having been washed, clothed and fed. He seemed to be reveling in the devotional music blaring at full volume. I did not want to disturb him, said my silent prayers and ran along. My feet were really leaden now and breaks for water were becoming very frequent. Having crossed the temple without refilling my bottle, I had to make the last few gulps left to last the remaining distance.
I somehow reached civilization at KM 3 and now I was sure that the oncoming stream of school kids would take me home. I trudged in to the colony gate at the stroke of 9; the health drink vendor who peddles karela juice outside the golf course was preparing to wind up shop for the day. I poured the remaining drops of water in the bottle on my head and entered the colony road. I had taken 3 hours, 33 minutes and 16 seconds to complete the run. Hopefully, I would do better tomorrow.