• gauri nadkarni choudhary

The Park Bench



Memories they say are strange things. They can take you on a roller coaster ride of your life in seconds.

My journey began as a part of the election campaign. The mayor had installed benches across the city for people to rest. I was one of the few placed in a park under a shady tree overlooking the play ground. I stood proud because I thought I was privileged to serve, to provide comfort to those around me. It was an honour to open my lap to all those around me.

I was not a mere park bench. I was so much more. I was the silent support to the two young lovers who would sneak out and meet in the park. I relished their love as they made promises to live together forever. They would sit in my lap for hours talking about their dreams and hopes, reassuring each other about their fears. I smiled at their silly talks and beamed at their romantic side. I even endured the pain happily when they carved their initials on my back. I became a part of their love story. I witnessed their fights and prayed till they made up. I used to look forward to their daily visits.

I looked forward to the young mother and her baby who would come running to me everyday. I saw her struggle to climb onto my lap with those little legs and wished I could bend down and pick her up. I did not wince once when she would jump all over me to the songs her mother played. I laughed at her childish babble and watched her learn new words every day. I thought I would burst with pride the day she pointed at me and said ‘bench’. I did not mind when she spilled her juice all over me or dropped her food on my lap.

I awaited the little boy and his toy truck which he would race with his friend’s toy car. I did not mind the scratches it brought to my paint.

I looked forward to the student who would sit sprawled with his books in a rush to complete his homework. I did not mind the ink stains he left behind.

I looked forward to the nightly visit of the poor homeless man who would seek my comfort from the harsh realities of life. I tried my best to protect him as he escaped in his dreams. I did not mind the garbage he left behind.

Years passed. The faces changed but the emotions did not. Year after year I gave unconditionally to the tired joggers, wary mothers running after their toddlers and older men and women resting their knees. I listened to friends pouring their hearts out. I tried to console the lonely girl crying her heart out in my arms.

Now I am old and weathered with peeled off paint and rusted side. The students shy away from me because I am dirty and unclean. The mothers keep their toddlers away because my rust could be harmful. The lovers prefer cafes over an old scratched park bench.

I want to tell them that all it would take is a wet cloth and a fresh coat of paint and I would be there for them again. But I heard that’s how they treat even humans now.

They are demolishing me soon to make new currency coins. Maybe now I will have more respect….

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