Arts and Entertainment

Slow and steady

- MAMINA SHRESTHA

Sep 26, 2018-

I have always enjoyed walking and as far as I can recall, my father has been my walking buddy even before I ever learned to walk. 

We have pictures in photo albums of my father taking me to temples— with me all dolled up, high in his arms. I have some vague memories of going to mamaghar as he walked around carrying me on his shoulders. Now, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed—the city is different, my dad and I have grown up and old. But that’s just how it goes. Time.

These days, I find myself wanting to walk longer distances even if I have had a long tiring day. Thinking of this now, I remember days, years back, when my dad used to get home late at night after work. He’d always said he walked home from work. Even when his office was in Patan or when he was transferred to Baneshwor. Dad would say he left work on foot, went around Naradevi, Asan and walked all the way home. Most days, he’d have some sort of bakery dish with him. “It’s tomorrows lunch for you and your brother!” he’d say. “I found this place that makes really delicious Yomari. 

I brought some with me. Come, let’s try!” he’d holler on some evenings. Now, I have become so much like him when it comes to this. I take the long road home on foot on most days. Even on days when I whine all the way home, I have my playlist on as I trace the way home on foot. 

This evening, my father and I went out for some quick grocery shopping. As we scanned through the vegetable aisle I suddenly recalled the last time we were here together. It was months back. 

That time, he’d told me about how he worried he had become infirm because people kept recommending he get a walking stick. He bought one, yes. But at home, we knew all too well to see how much he hated carrying that thing around. 

The useless thing just sits behind our door now. 

My father frequents this area often to buy all our vegetables. 

On evenings, when he’s getting back from some work or the other, 

he chooses to get off the bus here at Kuleshwor and walk the longer road home just so he can get us some greens on the way. Today, we were hunting down some tomatoes and the likes when a vendor said, “Your back hurts. You don’t need to bend over to pick out tomatoes. I’ll just pack them for you.”

These days, the roads are busier. There’s a bigger rush now. But my father’s reflexes aren’t as quick anymore. “You walk on this side of the road, please,” I tell my father as I veer him away from the road, pushing him closer to the street-side vendors. By now, my right wrist has started hurting a little—father needs more support than he thinks he does. My right arm feels a little too stiff because of the weird angle I’d had to keep through the walk here. But it’s okay. Because in the afternoon, I am at ease. There’s no rush. I am not worried about the bus to college. I am not anxious to get back home before my mum anxiously starts calling me every other minute. I am not worried about the traffic. I don’t fret about the long, tiring day I have ahead of me. Surprisingly, I am also not hungry. I am never rushing when I am in these walks with father. 

We are both slow and steady. We’ve got no race to win. Just a step at a time, slow and steady.

Yes, dad does love to whine about this and that, mum, college and work. I occasionally hum the tune of the last song I had heard—these walks are special because I feel free. And once in a blue moon, I wonder if our slow and steady walks are really just a race against the reality of time and inevitable change... Because we both know someday, we won’t have this anymore. But for now, even if it takes me an hour to cover a distance this short, I would rather do this than anything else. I am not in a rush and neither is dad.  

 

 

Shrestha is a student at St Xavier’s College, Maitighar

Published: 26-09-2018 09:07

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