There is a time when you have to press the pause button…

My father is a very tall man and my mother, the exact opposite. I remember from the time I started going out with them anywhere, they never ever walked together. My father with his extra long strides was indeed a difficult person to keep up with, even for us. So we kids would keep going back and forth between Mom and Dad, so that we were all on the same track. Even for our annual holidays, it was always a last minute sprint to the train with my father as usual leading the way. It was like a race against time.

As I grew up and started life in college, I became easy with my friends, watching movies and just hanging out with them. My shopping destination changed from Mumbai’s Chembur station to fashion street, and my eating joint were no longer Udipi restaurants. Going out with parents for movie or shopping was just not such a cool thing to do anymore. College crushes and heartbreaks happen to everyone and they happened to me too, only mine were so bad that I lost an academic year to begin, they were constantly with me. Every time I had to face a question which could humiliate me, my father would stand in front, shielding me like a wall. When I had just begun to think that I had stumbled and lost my race against time, my father picked me up and helped me start walking again.

One fine day, the three of us decided to go out again. While walking, I initially didn’t notice the change. However it gradually dawned on me that this time round, I was not going back and forth between them. In fact I was walking in my natural stride but was ahead of them. I turned around after a couple of metres and asked my father why he was walking so slowly. He smiled and said, “I can’t walk that fast these days.”
In my fast paced life, I had overlooked the little changes in theirs. Till then, I had not noticed the emerging grey patch in my father’s hair or the little wrinkles on my mother’s face. For us, parents are not supposed to age at all. Right?

I also saw something else which made my heart aglow with happiness. The gap between my parents as they walked didn’t exist anymore. They walked like two companions, comfortable with each other’s pace. I slowed down and walked besides them, at their pace.

Time plays a funny game. It seems to run faster for people whom you love the most and no matter how fast you are running, thinking of finishing the job on hand before spending time with them, time always manages to be a step ahead. So now at times I just slow down my pace and snatch those very precious moments of companionship with my loved ones. Do stop at the STOP sign, life gives you sometimes.

Kritika Malhotra

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