Sunday, March 25, 2012
The Jogging Track
The Jogging Track
Yeah baby, come on, one more, one more, damn it, come on, come on, yeah baby one more, I murmured to myself, with all the sweat pouring from my body as I pushed myself to go for another round. Doing this was so blissful, so fulfilling, after all I would have burned almost 500 calories running those 10 rounds of the jogging track of the newly built park in the vicinity.
The new park was made about 700 metres behind the deserted part of the colony. It had a lush green carpet of fresh grass which had recently been planted. The grass was evenly cut and if any Briton would have seen it, would have claimed it to be “prim and propah”. The jogging track was very neat and clean. Being on that track did make one feel like a celebrity. The path made up with red sand and the golden border formed by marigold plants on both sides made the track resemble the red carpet at Oscars.
I was about to finish the last 400 metres of the 9th lap of the 900 meter track; pulling away my 80kg body in an endeavor to lose another 5 kgs before my cousins wedding which was a month away; when my ears caught some sound, a very faint sound, behind me, in the distance of heavy breathing.
It was past 7.30pm on a cool November night and darkness had engulfed the park.
“Who could it be?” I questioned myself.
The breathing, which sounded more like heavy panting resembled that of someone burlier than me trying out their luck at jogging and inevitably at shedding those extra pounds.
I stopped in my tracks to see who it was as I remembered that other than me an aunty was the only on the jogging track and she had also left the track 20 odd minutes back before it become dark.
My eyes searched for the mystery jogger on the track in the darkness but found nothing; again they looked for the jogger in the grass turf in the park and again came back with a negative search result.
“Hmm, maybe there was no sound at all”, I quietly said to myself and started jogging again with effortless huffing and puffing.
I had done 100 metres when I heard the heavy panting more clearly. I stopped dead and turned back to see a burly 6 foot tall man wearing jet black t-shirt, track pants and shoes trying very hard to jog.
“He must be more than 100 kgs”, I guessed in a whisper myself.
It was the all black attire, similar to the kiwi rugby team, which fooled my eyes, after all searching for black attired people in pitch darkness isn’t the easiest task for the human eyes.
“The only way I could have known definitely that a person was there behind me was if I had the nose of the bloodhound”, I told myself with a chuckle.
I waited for him to catch up with me. I could use some company and seeing by the way he looked, I realized that we had the same goal, to lose weight and shed those extra kilos trying their best to burst out of our respective t-shirt.
“Hi”, I said as he caught up to me and I started jogging along with him.
“Hello”, he said breathlessly.
“Trying to lose some weight secretly”, I questioned him with a smile and some breathlessness.
“Yeah, what else!” he said a little irritated, after all talking and the jogging simultaneously was leading to more breathlessness for him.
“Good, keep it up”, I said to motivate him.
I completed by 9th lap and decided to do a brisk walk for my final lap.
I had just started the 10th lap, when he shouted, “Hey hang on”.
I slowed my pace and waited for him to catch up.
He jogged the distance and came next to me and stopped. I too stopped.
He bent down, put his hands on his knees and took gasped for breath. In that moment, it seemed as if he would inhale all the oxygen from the air around us, something you would generally see genie’s doing on cartoon shows.
He took a gasps and then stood up straight. He then took a few long deep breaths. This helped him normalized his breathing a bit. His heart which would have been racing at almost 120 beats per minutes, slowed substantially to about 100 beats per minute.
“Hi, I am Raghav”, he said extending his hand.
“Hi, I am Rahul”, I said shaking his hand, which was very sweaty.
We started to walk briskly to complete the laps, so that we could still burn the calories and at the same time not get all huffed up.
“So where do you stay?” he asked me as his breathing became normal.
“Nearby only, 2 blocks away”, I said.
“What about you?”, I asked
“Next block”, he said
“Cool, so do you come here regularly?” I asked him politely
“Yeah, try to make it almost every day, rather night” as you can see”, he said looking up to the sky.
“Ha ha, true it is almost night time”, I said and looked at my watch, and it was getting to 8pm.
After a moments of silent walking on the track, I turned towards him and asked “So what do you do?”
“I work as a real estate agent”, he said
“My office is in about a km from here, in A block”, he added.
“Ah cool”, I said.
“What about you?” he asked
“I work as an investment banker with D & Z at Gurgaon”, I said smilingly with a proud chest, after all it was my dream company at campus and I felt proud to work there.
“Very good, it is one of the most respected I bank”, he said and I beamed with joy and my chest inflated 2 more inches with pride.
We spoke and chatted for a couple of minutes when I realized that we had almost completed the lap and only the last 100 metres were left.
“I am done for today”, I said with a deep breath of relief.
“Great, I will do 2 more laps”, he said.
“Oh ok! I guess I will catch you tomorrow here again”, I said to him.
“Sure, see you tomorrow”, he said
“See you tomorrow, bye”, I said and started walking towards the exit gate of the park which was about 50 metres away.
I entered the cabin of the park’s security guard to record my log out entry in the park user’s register.
“Hello” I said to the guard as I opened the register on the table and scanned towards the last page to record my logging out time.
On reaching the last entry, I saw that the last entry was of the aunty who had left the park earlier when I was still doing my laps. There was no login entry of Raghav in the register.
“Excuse me”, I called out to the guard and signaled him to come to the desk.
Slowly the guard, an old man of over 50 years came to the desk.
“Yes sir”, he said in a manner which showed his obvious irritation at being asked to move from his plastic throne set in one corner of the cabin.
“Why is there no entry of the person who recently came in for jogging?”, I asked him as the park authorities were very strict on security.
“Which person sir?”, he asked me with a quizzical look in his eyes
“Raghav, that big fat man? In black clothes, he comes here daily? , I said to him.
“Who Raghav sir?”, he said with an innocent look
“Black tshirt, track pants, the one who stays in the adjacent block, big, huge person, real estate person!!?, I snarled back at him with irritation
“Oh, Mr Mishra, I did not know his name was Raghav sir”, said the guard.
“Sir, but he passed away today morning sir”, he said with a calm sad soft voice.
“What”, I yelled with a shocked face
“You must be mistaken”, I told him
“No sir”, said the guard, “now I remember, he had come to the park yesterday, after you had left, in the same clothes you just mentioned”.
“He passed away today morning, due to a heart attack, the morning shift guard told me before he left”, said the guard.
I stood there stunned in silence with a shocked look and my eyes as wide open as that of an owl. The color of my skin turned white as the blood drained out from my face.
It seemed as if time froze, and I was lost.
I felt myself shiver; it was scariest thing that had ever happened to me. This was something you would generally see in Hollywood movies.
“Sir what happened, why are you shivering?”, asked the guard as he shook me.
The shaking by the guard brought me back to reality.
The reality that I had just jogged with a dead man!!
I quickly turned, came out of the cabin and ran toward my home the fastest I had ever run; never to return to again to that jogging track.