The bonds that bind

Upant Sharma

Among the experiences of life catalogued in my private journal, a soulful rendezvous with a child every day in the park at twilight has been one of my most treasured possessions. No sooner do I drop bone-tired after returning from grinding professional chores, she, forever fresh, joyful and beaming, tugs at my arm to issue a candid order to race her to the park. That fatigue tends to evaporate the moment she smiles at me, radiating hope and excitement.

The duo’s life in the park as free souls turns out to be no less than the opulent reflection of heaven as we both spend quality time together despite a considerable age difference.

We are now accustomed to the itinerary of our carefree outing in the lush green settings. Her warm-up begins with a merry jog around the park, barefoot after toeing off her sandals to one corner. Sensing the thrill of the wet blades of the grass, tickling and streaking her tiny feet, her blissful quotient acquires intensity as she goes on and on, flailing her arms, swinging her back or hopping on one leg till she trips over and falls headlong.

The laws of mechanics go for a toss as she tries to toss herself up into the air by pushing the ground desperately with her feet. Reacting to her forlorn attempt with her face twisted to one side in mild frustration, she points at me, gesturing to sit on the other end and help her get up! An irregular fit of laughter persists for a while and then would surface a queer urge to switch the seats varnished in two different colours. I tend to let her colourful wish be granted without allowing a mature conscience to be a killjoy in her intriguing mood swings.

It is always satisfying to witness her gradual progress from being a scared toddler who once showed hesitation in climbing up that tiny flight of stairs to the confident little one that needs no help now.

Years from now, she is unlikely to seek my company as a guardian angel offering her a comforting hand to get up if she falls, or donning the mantle of a peer buddy taking her to leisure walks, interlacing his fingers into hers.

Till then, my endeavour is to keep this heartwarming company. She is the one who taught me how to transfigure a barren land into a picturesque landscape, how far the quotient of happiness could be stretched and to what extent a human life meant to be enjoyed shouldn’t be subject to any kind of materialistic pleasure.

The golden words one painstakingly reserves for those held closest to one’s heart have amusingly been stolen by her hypnotic random ways. Nay, my niece! Childhood is ephemeral but timeless are its joys.

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