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Looking for smiling joggers

I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
– Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Having been a fan of Mark Twain – who isn`t? – I agree to what he says. In fact, this is exactly what I was doing in the 28 months of my marriage with Rekha.

Now that she has left me (alas! for only six months) and the mirror in our house is free, I am shocked and appalled at myself. I have put on so much weight that I look like a US citizen with a Michelin & a Bridgestone tyre around my waist. Yes, this is the same Jammy who while participating in an “Improve the Society” Rally, held the placard: “Shoot all fat people”. Thinking back, I am glad that the police arrived at the last minute, killed a few protesters and dispelled the crowd. Else, my placard would have caught a Parliamentarian`s eye and would have been made a law….which means, I would have been shot by now.

Two days back I took my first step towards getting back to active physical life. I bought a pair of sneakers. The one I have now can`t be used coz it has not been used in the last year and half. I had bought it wanting to start jogging. I remember, the very next day the battery in our alarm clock had drained and before I could get a new battery, all interest in jogging had vanished.

If you are wondering if I will let this pair of sneakers face the same fate…you are wrong. I bought blue ones this time; they would go with my jeans too. I had never worn the white ones because it felt like wearing tube-lights on my feet.

As a precursor to starting jogging, I took a walk in the Jogger`s park yesterday morning. Nobody seemed happy while jogging. Not a single jogger was smiling. Some were panting, some were straining, a few were acting as if they didn`t really like jogging. Even when I tried smiling at them, they didn`t reciprocate.

I was about to give up when from afar I saw a jogger smiling at me. As he neared, I realized he was still smiling. “Good soul”, I told myself before smiling back….but he wasn`t looking at me. Next minute he was smiling at the flowers, then at the donkey which was tied to the tree, then at the single sneaker lying by the road side, then at the small boy from the slums who was reliving himself…the jogger smiled at everything.

I was impressed with his attitude towards life. I so much wanted to talk to him. I called out: “Sir, I just have a quick question.”

He stopped jogging, but kept moving to his sides and up and down.

“Sorry to have stopped you. Looks like you have to visit the loo…please go ahead. I can always meet you here tomorrow.” I said with due respect.

“That`s fine. I am just warming down. Why did you stop me?” He was a tall, staggering man. He sounded as if he wanted me to have a very strong reason to stop him.

“Sir, you keep smiling while jogging. I suppose jogging gives you immense pleasure.”

“Why do you ask?” The man seemed to be stiff, in spite of all his exercises. Arthritis, perhaps.

For a while I wondered if I should explain the whole situation – from Rekha leaving the house, me seeing the mirror, finding out that I was fat, deciding to jog, buying sneakers, to searching for a smile on a jogger`s face – but really doubted his warm-down theory. Since, I didn`t want to be the reason behind an adult wetting his shorts….I came up with a short explanation: “Sir, before I met you, all the joggers I had seen were grimacing in pain. You are the only one smiling.”

“Ohh…that! That`s coz when I was a 19-year-old I had a bike accident and lost all my teeth. After an orthodontist and a plastic surgeon fixed my jaw, besides the bill, they also left this smile.”

I was stumped. Before I could gather my wits, the man continued: “This is not the first time I have run into trouble because of this smile. Last week my wife left for her maike and I couldn`t show her that I was upset. I kept smiling, throughout.”

P.S. I am yet to start jogging.

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