early 2011. jawahar, thane
just two hours away from mumbai, post a hearty lunch that left me bloated with a feeling that i would burst and looking almost on the verge of it like a raisin frying in ghee, i went down to the river. it was a quiet stream, that ran through a patch of plain land, the landscape was one you could find anywhere, in any city, in any state…
balancing on the soft squishy mud by the banks, in that silence where one hears the frog’s croak almost echoing, i muddled around in my bag, took out my camera, changed the lens and was ready. to capture everything around me. i followed an egret. chased another bird that i couldn’t recognise. took many pictures of the frogs, who almost seemed attracted to the ‘clicking’ sound of the camera, i think i had them confused. i zoomed in and zoomed out. panned, looking for another topic of conversation between my camera and nature, and i saw her.
just behind those bushes, right next to me, yet i hadn’t even heard her presence. she was bathing in the river, with the frogs, the tourist-littered-bags, the weeds and the moss. on the stone next to her lay a tiny pink soap… my bathroom shelf has an organic soap, a shower gel, a face scrub, a face wash, a shampoo i didn’t like, one i did and a conditioner.
and on the grass lay her nightie… i thought of my preparations spread out on the bed before a bath…
done with her bath, she squeezed the water out of her hair, and begun washing her clothes, a few ‘thaps’ on the rock, some squeezes, more ‘thaps’ and she was done in five minutes. my washing machine load for a day came halfway to the top and took an hour & buckets of water to complete.
a few quizzical glances came my way, and then that shy smile. i called out to her, but she continued to wash and then got up and left.
i resisted going after her, and went back to the frogs thinking about her…
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