It was evident that for everyone at The Sneh Lata Walk With Your Parents, the time that they got to spend with each other was a rare luxury.
Times are such that even a winter Sunday — the first one in the new year — becomes a rushed affair spent between striking off the long list of pending chores, and refreshing the mind for the upcoming work week. This, self-induced, rush is so all consuming that even the new year resolution around fitness goals for 2020, which is a mere five days old, is threatened with a premature demise (the fitness resolution usually lasts close to a month for me like most mortals). The resolution survived the day, January 5, in a very memorable way that too, at a special event.
As much as personal fitness is a lonely and selfish journey, a fit and healthy life, or lifestyle, is not one that can be walked alone. You are only as fit, healthy or happy as your immediate loved ones, your family. It is a team journey. A healthy life, after all, is not just about well toned muscles, or a great resting heart rate, or the ability to earn finishers medals at fancy city marathons. It is about a synergy that touches all walks of life. And that can only happen when we collectively move towards that zone, like the tagline I had come across somewhere: One Happy Family!
This is where we falter most of the time, not just in keeping resolutions, but keeping the small things that matter in our lives intact. This was one of the many thoughts that floated in and out of my mind as I slowed down to a pace that was comfortable to my walking partner for the day, my mother, while taking part in The Sneh Lata Walk With Your Parents event in New Delhi Sunday morning.
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It is amazing what a bit of slowing down does to you. Having said that, the epiphany as well as the ruminations that came my way through the course of the walk — a brainchild of sports medicine exponent Dr. Rajat Chauhan in memory of his late mother — also had a lot to do with an immersive, revealing conversation I had with my mother, Maggie. She was quite a sport too, despite knee pain and the chill in the air, giving her some discomfort.
After all, she was getting some exclusive time with her son, after what would be, decades. The last time she walked holding my hand, at this pace, would have been when she was helping me learn to take those small steps. As I got faster, I left her behind at the playgrounds in Kochi. One could see a spark in her eyes on the manicured lanes of New Delhi’s Aerocity, lined by imposing buildings, as we began our walk. A different setting, no doubt, to the small parks in Kochi, but I could sense that at the event, she was transported to those days, albeit with a role reversal.
Dr. Chauhan, an ultra marathoner, coach and race organiser, was distraught when he lost his mother a couple of months back. In one of our conversations back then, he had mentioned how he wished he had spent more time with his mother, and how he should have — like he has done with many of his trainees and patients — helped her lead a physically active and vibrant old age. He didn’t, because like most of us, he was also caught up with the many things in life which we can and cannot live without at the same time.
The idea of organising The Sneh Lata Walk With Your Parents came into his mind at that point. The event is meant to serve a larger purpose than a gathering of young and old. Dr. Chauhan hopes it will become a movement in itself, fueled by self realisation, the kind that I experienced while walking with my mother.
We walked at our own pace around two blocks at Aerocity. Amma even rested her tired legs once, at a resting booth set up by the organisers. The pace was enough for me to give her gyaan about the need to be active, while she gave me some too in that old stern, voice. The best was when she reminded me that I am not exactly doing well about my own fitness, and I seem to talk quite a lot about hers. Mothers, I say!
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We were surrounded by many fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, grandchildren.... all walking, everyone with a smile on their faces. It was evident that the time that they got to spend with each other, walking or running the 3-km course, was a rare luxury. It was also evident that many, just like me, would go back determined to make sure this was not a one-off.
In a turbulent time, when the young are on the streets and the old are joining them, and when many in the middle are unsure of where they lie, a simple event like this can spark a more generous revolution. A walk is a lot, and it is more. It helps converse, and it helps listen. Walking with the old provides perspective. Walking with young provides voice. And, what is a society that cannot take care of both the young and the old. A healthy ageing population is a sign of a healthy nation with the right values.
On our way back from the event, Amma said as much too. She felt energised. It is the physical exertion, I pointed out. Being active keeps you happy, I told her. “It is the time spent with you,” she shot back. Again, in that stern-yet-soft motherly voice I used to hear long back while learning to walk. Neither of us was wrong.
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