This is a story of a little bird; I like to call my heart. It stays in the rib-cage inside my chest and locks itself out at the slightest smell of love. No, I have not cut down its wings. It soars high and falls worse than a Humpty Dumpty off a wall. I mean seriously. It keeps falling every now and then.
Just like it fell the other day, when I was taking my regular jog at Rock garden. I was jogging round and round…taking a deep breath while moving on upward slopes & trying to control my speed while running over the downward ones. My lungs bloated big & shrunk back for oxygen as I came to a halt near my favorite spot. I touched my chest with the right hand & could feel heartbeat racing high. Giving out a sigh, I sat at the edge of one of the benches and Hippy came running towards me. It stood near my feet gazing at me awkwardly and I smiled at it. It replied by jumping up in my lap and within few seconds it started making a purring sound. It definitely was the most innocent happiness I had ever come across.
And then I spotted her. Sitting at the far corner of garden with her big round spectacles sitting firmly over her sharp nose. I smiled and heard a knock on the door of rib cage simultaneously.
“Are you serious? We don’t even know her yet’’ I asked my curious heart man.
‘’And we would probably never do if you do not take me to her’’ came a quick reply.
“Well, what if she says no? What if she already has someone in her life?’’ I tried to keep him calm and locked inside.
But little heart man had already made up his mind and was ready to try his luck.
One of us took the other to the bench at far corner of the garden.
“Well, not many come here to do serious reading. I mean at least that’s what I used to think” I said to her after rehearsing and rephrasing it thrice in my mind.
‘’Depends on what you call serious reading’’ she said without lifting her head and I still caught the smile conquering her reddish cheeks.
“Yes. I guess, reading a novel as thick as the one in your hand. I mean most people just come here with a newspaper to read.’’ I said and checked on my heart, luckily still sitting inside my chest.
She turned towards me as I said that and put her dark brown hair behind her ears.
“You are right. But honestly speaking, this is my first time here. ‘Rock garden’. I really liked the name and I just decided to spend some time with it. You come here often?” she asked me and I spotted the little heart man in black suit crawling towards her sneakily.
“Get back you. You Humpty Dumpty. Don’t you do that again’’ I warned him and she waited for my reply.
“Yes I come here quite often. In fact everyday you can say. I like this place. I mean it’s so calm. All of us who come here are like friends of Rock garden, you can say. It’s so serene…”
“And yet kind of an escape’’ she completed my sentence.
“What do you mean, an escape?” I was puzzled and at the same time worried about the little heart man – now sitting on her lap and looking at her. He was going to hurt himself again. I knew it.
She folded the book in her hand and answered, ‘’Yes. An escape. An escape from reality. A much needed break for everyone you see around us. Be it kids playing football just for the summers or those middle aged women walking backwards over the green carpet to fight diabetes or simply youngsters using it as a platform to keep their bodies fit & toned. We are just travelers to this place. We would be waving goodbye to the Rock Garden as soon as our motives are fulfilled.’’
“I guess. But Rock garden does have true friends as well’’ I said. I loved the way our conversation was going. Well to be honest, little heart man had gotten me engrossed in interesting conversations earlier as well. And then I ended up putting a bandage on his wounds from the fall later on.
Nevertheless I continued to fall for this girl and said to her ‘’Yes Rock garden does have friends as well. Real friends. Like you see old Mishra uncle sitting over there?” I pointed at a man sitting on a bench across ours with his hands rested on a walking stick. “Or the brown kitten sitting near him? That kitten has made this place its home even before it learnt to jump over the bench. I call it Hippy. Love the way it looks deep into your eyes and then jumps up on your lap’’ I realized I had gotten carried away a bit with the kitten part, when I saw little heart man now sitting in her left palm.
She laughed a bit and asked me ‘’A cat-person, I see?’’
“Well if it qualifies as a pick up line, yes I am’’ I said scratching my hair with one hand.
“Haha, normally it does not. Anyway I never asked your name. I’m Ayesha. And you are?’’
‘’I’m Piyush. I’m a Lawyer. And you?’’
“I’m studying Literature. At DU.” She said.
“Oh I should have guessed. That’s why books and all.’’ I said as I searched for him. Little heart man had escaped yet again.
That did get me worried. I thought of the previous times it had flown away. And fallen for the ones who never cared for him. Little heart man would later come home to its rib cage with his head tilted and feeling all sad with teary eyes. I would then sit and console him for days.
‘’He had fallen once again probably. She did not even notice him sitting on her palm’’ I thought while she got up to leave.
“I guess I’m going to try and be friends too…’’ Ayesha put the book in her bag and said,
“You know with Rock garden. I guess I’ll finish up this novel here only someday’’.
I was still sulking over the empty space in my chest as she said that. I was going to miss the little heart man.
She zipped her bag up and gently put the other hand in the pocket of her blue jeans.
“Well to come to think of it, I’m thinking I’m also going to be friends with…” she took a pause to see me looking deep into her eyes and continued…”I’m thinking I’m going to be friends with Hippy too’’ she raised her eyebrows and waved me goodbye.
“There I go again. Return of Humpty Dumpty it is. Falling off the wall of love’’ I thought to myself.
“I love cats’’ she said as she turned around and I saw little heart man sitting comfortably on her shoulder winking his eye.
Before I could think anything, I felt something breaking into my mind…tiptoeing down into my chest and yes its beat rhymed perfectly with the tune of little heart man. A tiny red heart wearing a pink top and blue jeans was winking back.