My experience as a first-time runner


I have vivid memories of the first time I ran. I was four years old and in a pyramid in Egypt.

I was on holiday with my parents, the first holiday that I can remember. We had just entered the pyramid, and I found myself in a long, dark, narrow corridor, dimly lit by flickering torches. “Don’t run, you might fall down,” said my mother, so I immediately started running. I did not feel like listening to her. I was disgruntled.

Things had not been as per my liking. There was no Scooby Doo on TV in the hotel. My mother had refused to buy me chocolate-covered nuts, even though I had shouted a lot. She said she could make them at home, yet another promise that she did not keep. I wanted to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the local cinema, but they refused because it was dubbed in Egyptian. Without proper audio, we would not get full value for money. The sun was scorching. The heat was unbearable. There was sand everywhere and the people looked funny. My small souvenir sphinx had broken in two when I dropped it. My packet of potato chips was empty. I was thirsty, but the Fanta here tasted wrong.

Just a few minutes earlier, my parents had taken a camel ride, but relegated me to a donkey, because I might fall off. It was a very small donkey, and my feet almost reached the ground. Its head was drooping. It walked very slowly. It was embarrassed too. Local boys had pointed and sniggered.

Standing there inside the pyramid, I was still feeling keenly humiliated. I needed to break free. I ran down the corridor as fast as I could, leaving my parents far, far behind, my mother’s cries growing fainter, a vague notion of escape blooming in my mind, into a future where the chocolate-covered nuts ran wild and free, until I fell down and injured my knee, twisted and scraped on the ancient stone.

It took a while for the others to reach me. There was blood everywhere and it was very dark. One of the guides helped carry me back out into the sun. I never saw a single mummy. The bleeding stopped once we reached the hotel room, which had no AC. Eventually, I recovered and we left Egypt. This was my experience as a first-time runner. I must have run before, but this is the first case that I can remember. It prejudiced me against running from a very early age, and I have never visited Egypt again.

In Shovon Chowdhury’s most recent novel, Murder With Bengali Characteristics, everyone walks at a moderate pace, taking care not to trip over anything

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 4:11:34 AM |

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