There used to be a huge monsoon drain separating the park from home, before they covered it up and turned it into a walkway. There was a bridge, metal bars and railings spanning across the drain. Crossing that bridge always seemed like a mini adventure; even more so when one side of the railings succumbed to rust and fell away, leaving one side of the bridge treacherously open. Tonight, getting to the park was as easy as crossing a path - literally.
It is the same park, it has always been, yet there are changes. Everything seems smaller, but, of course, that is to be expected. The curved metal bars that I used to play house in have been replaced by a typical concrete house-and-tunnels, and slides. The grassy area has been cemented over to form a court of some sort. The Resident's Association House has been fenced up. Some things still remain the same, thankfully. The monkey bars are still there, so are the seesaws, and the swings. The swings were my favourite. There are five of them, all similar now. I remember when the first three, two were made of metal, and painted pink and blue. Those were for babies; they were more solid and secure, although it was always fun to sit in, even when I got scolded for doing so. One more was painted yellow, it was a plank of wood. The other two were - I don't know, rubber? A kind of pliable material, like most swings today. Now all five swings are like that,
The more I stared at the swings, the more I felt a stirring. Nostalgia? Don't really know. Sat on the last swing, and, well, swung.
When did life become so routine?
When did I begin to wonder what the purpose of life was?
When did I begin to fear the future?
Some things still remain the same. The smell of the metal chains, the first thing I recognized. It sort of hit me in the face, as though I was splashed with cold water. Next was the sound of the hinges. They still creak and whine and complain as I swing. Swinging creates a breeze. Funny, yet soothing, that when on a swing, the smell of the breeze is always sweet. Even though the park is next to a main road. Do swings somehow purify the air? Psychologically, maybe.
There were children sitting on the seesaw. Six of them, I think. They were having fun, laughing. I was like that, like one of them. So carefree, not having to worry about datelines or assignments, or living up to others' expectations, or - to be cliche - what tomorrow might bring.
It's heartening, that no matter when, be it now, or years ago, or years ahead, children's laughter will always seem magical. To me, at least.
I've always been reluctant to leave that playground. Tonight, it seemed exceptionally hard to do.