The Swing (झोपाळा)

We were on our way to a nearby hill station with our corporate guests from US, an inevitable official weekend itinerary of first time India visitors. We were taking every effort to keep our guests engaged and happy. The contract was not inked yet.

Somewhere on the way our guests spotted a pond. A pack of large black buffalos were laying submerged neck deep in the pond and skinny village children were sitting on their backs. The scene, very common in India but uncommon in US, naturally tempted our guests to record it on their cameras. We stopped our cars and our guests ran towards the pond.

While my admin staff ran with our guests to be their translators and take care of their safety, I stayed back in the car. My head was heavy after weeklong rounds of discussions and negotiations. My mind was still filled with thoughts of terms and conditions of the contract, and risks involved in the project, and it was making me grim. I desperately wanted a break. I had agreed to accompany the guests today thinking that a weekend outing would give me the desired break but the grim thoughts were refusing to leave.

I was looking around aimlessly trying to relax by watching the greenery. My mind was diverted by some noises from the distance. I noticed a bunch of small village girls playing on a swing, singing songs and giggling.

Soon my mind was slipping in the past, back into my childhood………….

A swing is commonly seen in every house in India though it is a luxury for a house, called “flat”, in a metro due to limited space. The non-metro houses are not complete without a large swing, a well decorated polished wooden plank (at least 4’x2’) chained to the ceiling, either in the veranda or in the central room. This swinging seat becomes the prerogative of elders in the house and children often run out to the nearby trees and make their own swing just the way these village girls had made one.

My grandfather could not live without a swing and we had one in our house in Mumbai, a metro. And thus, I was fortunate to have born and brought-up on a swing. Being a semi-nucleus metro family, the occupancy rate of this swing by elders was very low. And there were no trees nearby in Mumbai, anyway, to have a swing of my own. Very soon, the swing became my residential address within our “flat”.

Initially, it was used to sleep me. In my babyhood my grandma would hold me in her lap and take light swings till I fell asleep. When my legs became long enough to hit the ground, I would swing myself and sleep alone. Then it became the place for my cultural grooming. In the evening, my grandpa would teach me Sanskrit verses and we would recite them together while swinging. He would also tell me stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Soon the recitation of poems and mathematical tables were added to the verses and stories.

In my day-dreaming age, the swing became my best companion. While I swung back and forth, my mind would perform great acts in the world outside and would get applauded. For example, during the season of Test Cricket, I would be the captain, the best batsman and the best bowler in the team, all at once, giving single handed wins to the country. While my father listened to Ravi Shankar playing sitar on radio, I would become the tabla accompanist for him. And while listening to Rafi, I would be the hero in the song and the heroin and her friends would be dancing around me.

None of these day-dreams ever came true. The subsequent failures in real life taught me that it takes a lot of planning for a day-dream to become a dream. And huge efforts thereafter are required for a dream to turn into reality.

But, first and foremost, one must dream big and then only the rest will follow. My swing taught me to dream to the wildest………

My mind was now being set free with every swing that the girl took. My mind was getting filled with new energy. I was soon thinking of innovative ways of winning the contract though I was not on a swing.

Long after this incidence, very recently my friend called me on a Sunday morning, “Yaar….had a very hectic week…..too tired……still in bed and don’t want to get out.”

And then he moaned, “Wish I get an energy refill card. Do you know where to get one?”.

I said, “Dost, the energy refill cards are available to everyone any time. Just close your eyes and let your mind swing”.

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2 thoughts on “The Swing (झोपाळा)

  1. Thanks for nice zhopala experience.Swinging comes very natural to all of us because our human mind is very uncertain (changing),moody(lahari) and imaginative. We seldomly use our wild imagination but its an art to swing within. You practice and you don’t need to go far.I can tell my own experience, as we all miss the most liked childhood swing in the “flat cultures” of metros, our mind can enjoy the “swing” while we drive,while we are in the local trains and while we are in the bus….yes just close your eyes and ears and be within and think you are on a high swing, i bet we all can enjoy swinging. I enjoy travelling (??)thinking I am on swing and keep thinking of what i am supposed to say on the next meeting…but believe me for this swing of mine i don’t even need to sit on the so called “zopala”……zhoka is a practice…try it.

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