She had seemed a teenager to me, so slender her build, but I know now that she is about thirty and has a child of her own. I see her mornings before sunrise, when she runs wearing a skull-hugging cap and a snug tracksuit. She leans forward as she moves, head bowed, and in this manner she jogs for over an hour and in that same time I complete my daily speed-walk, passing her here and there on my track.
Regarding this lady, this happened: A private guard stationed before a mansion on First Main had been gaping at her daily as she passed, and she, having swallowed the annoyance many days, knocked on a police patrol car (Hoysala, they call the cars) that's usually parked on Second Main, got in, went back to the guard on First Main, and pointed the fellow to the policemen. In the shrillest highest voice they could muster, the policemen described everything they would do to the guard with their bare hands and their big boots if the guard repeated just once more what he'd been bloody doing.
"I'm not that kind of man, madam. I'm not that kind of man," the guard is said to have pleaded with the woman.
These are times hereabouts for women to deliver the strongest messages to men. One cringes each time news-reports appear on crimes against women, and so, along with everybody else I agree that women should assert themselves every way they can. But I've been thinking about that guard, and I've been thinking of myself who has studied the jogger's running gear, guessed at her age even if wrongly, and has written, now on this page, about her running style.
I don't know how serious my own wrong is in relation to the guard's, but I've begun to give the woman an additional two feet of margin when she passes me. On her part, she jogs on the edge of the asphalt on her side, and so there's a general mutual respect between us, I suppose.
A word about these private guards who stand before rich men's houses in my neighbourhood. They are dressed in olives, they wear a wide leather belt round a swollen middle, and leather slippers that aren't good for even a simple stroll. They're poorly paid, of course. On the same First Main a few weeks ago, a couple of chaps on a motorcycle stopped a white lady, grabbed her chain and made off with it, causing her to fall right before her home during the scuffle. At the end of the incident her guard rushed to his mistress to inquire if she was all right, allowing the thugs to flee unchallenged. Was the guard right in what he did? I'm still thinking.
Such has been the week, with thoughts on rights and wrongs. Early in the week, a few bats arrived on a tree in my compound. I noted them screeching in the night and I let them be, not yet realising they were bats outside in the branches. They must've been scouts, because the next evening an entire cloud of them descended on the tree, outnumbering the leaves on it. By morning, they'd powdered the stuff on the branches, buds and berries and all, and their spoil had layered the ground and the tops of our cars, like thick orange n' brown snow. I downloaded advise from Internet forums, had the branches hosed with phenol-infused water, and the things left, every one of them.
"I'd have let them stay if they hadn't messed up the place so," I told myself several times. But I must be honest, I'd been worrying if the things had flown in with a terrible omen on their wide wings. Afterward I heard that the bats had moved to a tree five houses down, and then I saw the folks in that house cut down the tree altogether. I don't know where the bats have gone now.
"Oh," my sister said last night at dinner. "Good thing if bats come home. They bring great wealth." She'd read that on the same Internet that gave me the easiest trick to be rid of them.
It's okay, I tell myself, having written this piece inside Starbucks, and now on my way home. Turning from the main street into our neighbourhood, I notice a street-side vendor sitting behind a line of stuffed goats. He's done a neat job, they look fresh and bright and alive and full of the kid goat's pluck. Also, they're cute in a strange way, and in a moment I realise why. In place of the short stubs that make for a goat's horns, he has planted the deer's twining antlers. They're perhaps plastic, I cannot tell from the distance of my car, but the result is interesting, quite nice-looking. "But I'd never buy that," I tell myself. "That's a wrong I'd never do."