For more than a month, my new apartment didn’t have curtains. Why? I could have bought one but my uncle told me that he would get me one, for free! I waited. For more than a month. Every day, I woke up grimacing at the Middle East sun that toasted my bed at 6 in the morning. And then came winter, followed suit by my free curtain. What a joke!
The community where I live has some very interesting people. (Some of my facebook friends would immediately remember my neighbors upstairs. No, I am not talking about them) So, I pull the cords and open the window curtain, the lush green meadow rises up to meet your eyes. Nice.
There would always be some people on the grass. Early morning, noon time, evening, at the dead of the night. Some people are plain jobless or sleepless or both. But there are some who stand out. They are as follows...
First, the Pathan who I have never seen standing on his feet. He always squats on the floor as if he is afraid that he would be snatched away by flying raptors or something. You can find him there in the morning and at noon. I swear; every now and then he would shield his eyes against the sky and look around for the unseen danger. And he would pick his teeth, incessantly. There must be a lot stuck in there.
Then you have the boxer woman. She is short, pudgy and is present during early morning with her trainer, a skinny dude who holds the mitts for her. Her boxing skills aren’t much to talk about. But you can’t stop watching her. She swings her thick hands and whacks the trainer guy sometimes in his ribs. Every time he gets hit, he raises one leg out of pure pain and reflex. I once counted 6 leg lifts within 60 seconds. After 9 pm, she would be back in the lawn alone with a mobile phone and a bag of chips.
Now, the couple. They run in circles every morning and evening. The man would be always talking and laughing. He would slow down to watch their younger fellow runners, as they pass by. Especially the girls in hot pants and shorts. That is when the wife does that trick with her elbow. The man would yelp, laugh and continue to run with her. I have never seen that woman smiling. Can’t blame her.
Finally, the women’s club. Around four to five women always assemble on the lawn with approximately double the number of children, aged between 1 and 12 years. The meeting starts at around 5 in the evening. Language of communication is a mix of English and at least four other Indian languages. Every time a slender woman passes by, they would immediately stop and offer a mass-blank-stare. The banter would continue once the subject has been studied and conclusions are drawn. The kids would get busy playing or beating each other up.
But all it took was one person, one evening to change the scenario. She came to the lawn dragging a big dog after her. The dog was cute. Well, it looked kinda cute from where I was sitting; my vantage point 8 floors above. Some kids and one or two members of the women’s club gathered around the hound. The dog acknowledged the pats from the kids. He then set his eyes on one of the ladies who lifted a plump leg, pointed her toe at the mongrel and said something. I couldn’t hear clearly from where I was sitting. But it got a reaction from the dog. It quickly hastened itself to the leg offered and proceeded to do what usually a mongrel would do to legs.
The commotion that followed can’t be adequately expressed in words. While the woman with “the leg” and some kids screamed, others laughed. Some where frozen, not knowing what to do. Including myself. For the first time, I saw the Pathan standing tall on his two legs and watching the scene, mesmerized. The boxer hit the trainer in his nuts I think. He doubled up.Perhaps he was laughing.
It has been a week. The women do not venture beyond the immediate vicinity of our flat. The dog and the owner made another appearance yesterday.The women's club gave a mass-blank-stare from the safe end of the street. The dog looked at them, squatted right in the middle of the lawn and executed an atomic dump.