Lately in the Mid-October of 2011, as classes in college started to disappear away with the exhaustion of syllabus, I started to miss college deliberately to stay indoors, not because I caught pox but because I had to start studying for the upcoming pre-board exams in November, the predecessor of the not-so-dreadful board exams.

The pre-boards ended and I passed with a bit unsaturated colors because I had scored a mere 355/600. Life became bitter when parents heard these marks from my not-loyal friends. But I was confident that I could put that right but another problem lurked into my life.

I had gained 1.3 kg and my BMI grew up from 22.6 to 23.4 in 2 month’s time. I was the only one to blame for it and I decided that I will put that to right too. Mere crunching of my abdomen wouldn’t have flattened my plump tummy. Hence I added running to my routine.

I started off by running in a playground of fairly large size in my neighborhood where the local kids of all sizes played soccer, cricket and some oldies sat on the benches near the edges and chatted with their co-aged citizens sipping tea from the near-by Ramesh Bhai tea-stall.

In the initial days, I would run for 50-60 meters and then would stop and walk a few paces regaining breathe and perspiring heavily. Then another 30 meters and stop again. I found myself irritating and my running disgraceful owing to my lack of stamina. This continued for some days and then I brought my cell-phone to the field. I plugged in the earphone and played any random song and started running humming the tune of the song playing mentally decided ‘I won’t stop until I reach that part of the song or till that line’. It did help but after being a couch-potato for more than 2 months it was still difficult to run rhythmically for long periods.

Moreover the attention provided by 50-60 eyeballs in the field to the solitary runner was hugely embarrassing. Whenever I paused for breath, the oldies would sigh so deep as if I was India’s next Olympic marathon star and failed in my duty.

“He isn’t improving.”-I heard one oldie say to the other.

The Sachins and the Dhonis looked at me with a patronizing glare as if it was more respectful and tougher to hit a sixer than run around the field 6 rounds. About the Peles and the Maradonas, I was more than sure that they believed that I brought disgrace to their sacred and pure soccer field and was unfit enough even to be their goalie.

I set forth to search a route for me to run without being ogled by so many people. Rising early isn’t one of my good habits, so that was crossed out and I didn’t want to join a gym because it will have population. So I decided to choose the longest artificial treadmill laid down by the Govt. of India by some of my mom and dad’s taxes; the railway track that was right in the proximity of my house.

I boarded the evening 5pm train from Baripada station and traverse across to the Bhanjpur station in the other end of the town, a 2.9 kms distance. Getting down from there, I ran back to the main station. The simple process was to put your toes on every alternative sleeper in the forward direction. At each interval of 100 meters a white chunk-pillar has been erected by the Railways, so that acted as the performance scale.

Every day since the last 40 days, I board the train, take a seat with the emergency window and crane out my head to feel the fresh air, to look at the house’s rear sides facing the track, their bickering walls, the moss-covered exterior paints, the overflowing water from the tankers on the roofs of some. Somewhere a baddie court is set up and the rackets keep swinging even if the cork had been blown away due to the train’s impetus. Somewhere a level crossing, with bikes and autos constantly racing their throttle to keep the engines on, some idlers looking annoyingly at the train that caused them to get their ass out of the line and caused a gap in their gossip. Somewhere a granny with her grandson in her arms standing just to show the kiddo a glimpse of the monstrous locomotive.

 

On my way back, I find some trashed liquor bottles near the station, somewhere a dead cat or a dog and silently murmur a prayer for the peace of its soul, the idlers who mock-laugh at me, the baddie court that had been deserted for the day. The unstopping slow of traffic at the level crossing sites.

As I go on, the winter fog sets in heavily and I disappear into it like a black shadow merges into the darkness.

Alas now I have regained my BMI below 23 and my flat tummy. The exams are just 62 days away and I have to sit down to study again. Hope that I go a little fat once again and will be able to witness those walls with more moss or with a new coating of paint, the baddie court replaced by volley, the granny with the child replaced by the kiddo on his bicycle in the summers that are yet to come.

Biswas Mishra