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Around the daily morning walk

For me, the early morning walk has been an unbroken routine for decades. The daybreak schedule has certainly helped me maintain a reasonable body weight, but what has kept me going for such a long time is not just my fitness goals. The refreshing kaleidoscope of life that the first light of the day opens up before me provides much-needed self-sustaining energy to my regimen. The smile or the hand wave I exchange with fellow-walkers gives an optimistic and happy start to the day.

This is the time of the day when most of us are relaxed and calm before the day’s mad rush begins, and naturally the smiles and gestures are sincere and genuine.

The first thing I make sure before starting my daily wanderings is that the spectacles are in its right place on my face so I get a clearer view of the smiles and the glow in their eyes.

I often come across a vehicle that transports children to a coaching institute from their hostel. The children are taken for their early morning coaching classes before the regular school hours begin. Such boarding institutions with strict discipline, tight schedules and fees running into lakhs of rupees have come up in different parts. The institutes and the schools work in tandem and support each other with the boarding facilities.

What makes these coaching institutes attractive to the parents is their high success rate in entrance tests for the professional course streams. I usually run across the vehicle at a particular junction whenever I take that route for my stroll. As the bus slows down, I look at the children and see emptiness in their eyes. The energy that is typical of children is missing. They, in their uniform, do not talk to each other but sit silently, glued to themselves.

Their indifference and the forlorn look unsettle me, for we have ourselves been preparing to admit our child in Class 10 in a more prominent institute away from our home next year. The lifeless faces of the children in the bus have kept haunting me, and often I have discussed the matter with my wife to find a solution to the riddle.

But the Catch-22 situation continues. “If you want to give him a happy childhood and good memories for the future, let him continue in the present neighbourhood school. But if you wish for an ‘assured’ successful career, send him to the institute for a couple of years.”

We spoke to our friends whose children were already in the institute. Some said empathetically, “Yes, it is hard on the children, but there is no choice.” A doctor couple, whose daughter is in the institution, preparing herself to follow her family profession in medicine, was more forthcoming. “You can’t allow your child to relax when others are grinding themselves away. It is not enough that your child is good; he has to be the best in the lot to be up there. You have to push them to succeed. So no room for sentiments; go and get a seat booked in advance.”

Lost in my thoughts and missing the dewy surroundings of the walking trail for a while, on my return track I reached the shrinking small wetland near my house. Far in the east, the summer sun is slowly starting its fiery journey for the day. The white herons have already made a huddle around the last pool of water in the drying field. Those early birds sit silently, close to each other, wings closed, head slightly pushing down, waiting for the odd fish to appear under their beaks.

They never look beyond the little circle around them, and what surprised me was the patience they show in spite of crowding around the small pool, knowing fully that they will have to fly away before the rising sun’s wrath fell on them. They seem certain there is enough prey in the pool. Their composure, not nervousness or anxiety, helps them carry the day.

I can’t stop imagining that this daybreak image has a subtle message for me.

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Printable version | Jun 10, 2021 11:41:44 PM |

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