I happened to get a message from a jovial friend of mine: ‘Your article on ‘walks’ was a good read, so guess you will be writing on ‘running’, next? Aha! I could almost feel the ‘idea bulb’ light up above my head! Well, why not write about it’?
I let the thought sink in and dived into recesses of my mind to recollect the times I had ‘run’ in my life, and I also thought about how things said or done in jest may have far reaching consequences. The latter part I will save for another day!
We run many races, some being the competitive kind too, be it on the sports field or in life.
The earliest memory I have of myself running is a joyful one of me rushing to greet mom every evening as she arrived from work. I was quite unhappy that I had a working mom when many moms in my neighbourhood were home makers and my tiny self just couldn’t accept that but the immense happiness of seeing her after a long day and rummaging her bag for goodies helped to alleviate the misery!
One of the saddest memories of my running episodes too is associated with my mom being a working mom. We had this group of friends who would gather at a nearby playground in the evening and play. As the evening wore on, moms would start calling out to the children to get back home.
There would be the ones who would immediately rush home, the ones who would try to prolong the play time a tad more, the ones who would throw tantrums and so on. I had this unique scenario where my mom wasn’t home to call me back and the lady assigned to be in charge of me never kept track of time and I would desolately walk back home after the last child had left the playground. There were many in the group who felt that I was fortunate that I could play as long as I wanted! Perspectives!
There was one particular day when in the middle of our games, the skies darkened forebodingly, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed down. All moms were out in a jiffy to drag their precious bundles of joy home and many told me as well to get home quickly. I just stood there overcome with emotions and thinking that it’s not fair that my mom isn’t a stay-at-home mom who could call out to me lovingly and take me home.
I could see the lady assigned to take care of me, slowly making her way towards me and I just took off, with tears streaming down my face and as on cue, the skies opened up and huge droplets of rain hit me like stones. I bypassed the perplexed lady and ran home miserable and angry at the world.
There’s another childhood memory laced with mixed emotions including huge embarrassment as well! I was the first runner of the team in the 4 X 100m relay while at school. I couldn’t take a considerable lead and I was waiting expectantly for the last runner in the team to close the gap and reach the finishing line.
As I saw her finishing first and our team bagging the first position, I couldn’t contain my exultation and I ran towards the finish line to greet her, forgetting the laws of motion. She bounded down the finishing line and her momentum kept her moving much beyond.
I bore the major brunt of the massive collision that followed and I had to be carried to the podium to be awarded the gold medal. I must have surely cut a sorry and funny figure then and even after all these years, that particular ‘run’ of mine remains etched in my memory and on my knee.
‘Chain snatching’ was quite a common feature in Mumbai and its outskirts during my college days and I have had this frightening experience of running after a chain snatcher one dusky evening.
As me and mom were walking home on a lonely stretch of road, my mom felt an ever so slight touch on her neck and in a jiffy her gold chain was gone. We saw the culprit rushing into a vehicle that his accomplice had kept ready, and racing away. We chased after them but we stood no chance at all and to this day the memory of that run gives me the chills.
Other than these, I have run umpteen times after local trains and BEST buses.
After I became a parent I realised that I could bolt faster than Usain if I heard a loud noise followed by a child’s bawling.
As children we love to run and very often adults put the brakes on tiny feet by commanding ‘slow down, careful, what’s the hurry’ and so on. We do slow down as we grow up and then we run only if there’s a pressing need, for a cause or for exercise.
Not wanting to run for joy or for no particular reason heralds the end of childhood, I guess.
Annie Mathew is an educator and writer based in Dubai