I sat up wondering. Chirping of birds continued. How did birds come into my class? I tossed back the hair from my face, stopped the birdie-alarm, and realized I was still in my bed. Ah! I was to start my tutoring today. I was nervous. This time I was to be on the other side of the table. I had to help an eighth grader with her Biology. This was my favorite subject. But how do I make her feel the same? Her mom briefed me, that anything to do with greens got her into fits-whether it was eating vegetables or studying about plants. This is what I call my ‘maggi’ generation. I wasn’t bothered about her marks. I just wanted to make it enjoyable for her. I didn’t know how she was preparing for our class today, but I had a long sleepless night.
How? How? But how? This was darting inside my head. My dad looked up from his morning paper, and shot a useful piece of advice: “Try describing to yourself what you see around you. This will make you at ease and give you confidence,” he told me. Those days I was practicing martial arts. And I decided to implement this exercise on the way.
It’d be a bit difficult to picture into words the onset of spring in Cuttack, my sleepy hometown. Cuttack is an appealing city snuggled in the eastern coast of India. Though people are familiar with its name, they find it difficult to locate on a map. I call it sleepy, not because it’s a village or something diffident. It is very much an urban city. But here, everything is accomplished at a relaxed pace.
Enter spring: you can take off your cardigan and feel much better than being cozy in your woolens. I hop onto my bike and glide down.
My coaching ground was an open-air, grassy field. Cycling down to the venue would be my way of lazing before sweating it out. There won’t be any bright sun to wake you up. We can make out how late in the morning it is, just by the growing brightness. Mostly it’ll be foggy and cloudy. And this regulated the chill just perfectly! But little by little, the clouds would disappear.
Tracks of golden-grey clouds above and fresh fragrance of tender mango blossoms around. Few sleepy-eyed and tousled-haired fellows, wondering at my free spirit. The cool, clean wind gushing through my nostrils and filling my lungs to the capacity.
As I pedal through the lanes, incense smell would come wafting through the air, in such an orderly manner that it made me wonder if a section of houses were assigned a specific agarbatti to burn. The tingling of bells and the hustle of the lady of the house, announcing the day had started. Intermittently, the rich aroma of boiling milk would come following, accompanied by the hissing of the stove.
Soon I would ride out to the main road. By now, a couple of small coffee shops would be open. The aromatic brown beans filling the streets. The sun would be up, but still not scorching. And with the strong and steady gush of wind, will come the sound of noisy fluttering. I would slow down, stop, and arch my head to look up at the bright sun adorning the crest of the tall trees. And suddenly I’d catch the sight of a shiny kite caught up among the branches. Yes, this was the time of the year for flying kites. From noon on, the sky would be a colorful galore of kites. And kite fights would continue until most of the kites would fall on terrace tops, defeated, but waiting to soar on again, when kids discover them the next day. They would tie the string to these defeated denizens of the sky and give them a chance to prove their mettle once again.
I continue cycling along the boulevard, on the way passing by the playground I once used to frequent as a child. As I brake before the huge blue gate that opens out to my coaching ground, it’s like I’ve come riding through a valley of beauty, embellished with frillers from the sky!