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Morning Walks

by Tulip Chowdhury


Picture of a sunrise over a field with white flowers in the foreground.
Image credit: Patrick on Unsplash

Corrie opened her eyes, but her thoughts hung back on the hours of sleep, tracing over fragments of dreams. She smiled, remembering dreaming of her university days, of drinking tea with Jeeten, her best friend. Maybe she should have seen more in their friendship.


Relationships were like watermarks in the pages of one's life stories. She married Rohit, an Indian, according to her parents' wishes, but thoughts tended to dig out old bones spiced with "Ifs” and “buts”, “should have”, and “couldn't have."


Corrie sighed, cajoled her thoughts to come to the present, and stepped out of bed. The eastern sky through the open window invited her to embrace her favorite time of the day, the early morning hours. That time of each day was like a life elixir to her. Before closing the bedroom door, she glanced at Rohit, her husband snoring away on his pillow, and headed downstairs.


Summer in New England was short, and morning walks in the fresh air were a treat; Corrie took the warm days as blessings from God. With her walking shoes on, she stepped out on the driveway, her feet impatient with a life of their own, and quickly reached the sidewalk leading to the nearby park.


Corrie walked slowly and steadily while taking in the trees and flowers. Many irises lined the walkway in orange, white, and pink waves. Along the park's edges, oak trees stood like witnesses to every passerby. Between the irises and the oaks were hedges and bushes, masses of green; some had white blossoms peeking out from here and there.


Corrie's eyes feasted on the peaceful sight. The sun climbed higher in the sky and bathed the park with its soft morning light. A gust of wind swept over her body, welcoming her to the day. Corrie inhaled deeply and exhaled. The air carried a mixture of summer blooms and felt pleasantly heavy with fog. With every step, every breath, she felt some of her stress sliding away; the gray clouds that always seem to hang overhead gave away to specks of sunlight. The morning walks allowed her breathing space, cleared her thoughts, and rejuvenated her. Her slender form caught the lightness of a butterfly, dark eyes lit up above the pert nose, and her wide, generous mouth had a smile for the day. Corrie looked beautiful in her workout clothes. But she looked gorgeous when she dressed in a traditional saree. She advocated self-care and had well-balanced meal plans for Rohit and herself. If Rohit wanted frequent spicy and fried food, she put a firm note with "There is no way one could survive a healthy life without a balanced diet in this hectic lifestyle."

Image the lower part of legs of a person walking, with grass on either side of the path.
Image credit: Arek Adeoye

American life was good with a stable job as a teacher, an engineer husband, and a home in Amherst, Massachusetts. She and Rohit were married through an Indian matchmaker, with her joining him in the USA. She came from Kolkata, India, and for the past five years, Corrie had built her life around the college town with good friends and colleagues. Yet the self within seemed to have the wind blowing through hollows, voids made by two personalities blending in a shared life. Corrie thought they made cocktails out of life drinks all the time. Work and home functioned like a default system, while weekends came with community socializing. Corrie wanted to go on weekend hiking trips, camping, or to the beach alone. But to Rohit, weekends were more about meeting the Indian community, speaking Hindi, having spicy food, and sharing the week's events in every detail. Wasn't there something called privacy in married life? Every little argument, a horrible lentil dish, or a too-sweet rice pudding: why would anyone disclose their home life to community friends? Corrie was a private person. To Rohit, she was an introvert, which logically explains his sharing his home details. But those were the thorns in her marriage; the rose was the American dream. Thinking of roses seemed to bring her to a rose bush; she stopped walking and noted the shades of red of the blossoms. The wild roses in the park usually came towards the middle of summer. Corrie sighed; spring and summer in New England sped by, and soon, the air would cool down, setting the stage for fall.


Slowing down on her steps, Corrie took out her cell phone and checked her messages; nothing from Rohit was good for her. She had ten more minutes to walk before returning home to prepare for work. It was Monday, and supposed to be a busy week with the school closing for summer vacation. Corrie sighed; she hoped Rohit would agree to a beach trip just to be themselves; she needed that space for her mental health.

She wanted to circle the park; it would be at least half an hour of her daily walk, and she picked up a little speed. The sky was collecting dark clouds in the west, with possible rain coming at the end of the day. Unlike previous years, the 2023 summer was full of rain, much like many other places worldwide experiencing unusual weather patterns. The downpours filled nature with deep, thick foliage that filled her heart and soul with tranquility. But the rain had potatoes and tomatoes in unfavorable weather, and farmers were caught in it. Nature had two sides, like the roses and thorns in her life. We do our best in the middle of likes and dislikes in life. Corrie hummed a Bengali song she liked and walked on.


For Corrie, her favorite was the last five minutes of her morning walk. She found a clean patch of green grass and stepped out of her walking shoes; the socks came out, too. Next, she started her barefoot walk, feeling the grass blades give away to her touch. Heavenly senses opened inside her, and she lay on the thick, green carpet. Her back gladly took in the slight unevenness of the ground beneath the grass. The bare skin outside the workout tops tingled upon touching the grass, like some well-wishers nudging her good humor. Her body relaxed, and Corrie felt her pent-up feelings, the held-back words flowing out to enter the ground, blending with the energy of Earth. There was no end to the power of the planet and the universe, and with her body on the floor, Corrie felt her own being growing stronger with negative aspects emptying into the rivers. It was like the water bodies emptying into the sea, joining life forces.


"Relax, relax, inhale, exhale, and repeat." She heard an inner voice saying, Corrie followed the instructions, and soon it was time to go back home, to start another day of work and home in her American dream. Much of her pent-up thoughts found calm ground. Rohit and his ways merged with hers like two paths leading to one long highway. She needed the daily morning walks to get on with life in the snow or summer green.


Whenever Rohit asks why she makes her morning walks mandatory, Corrie replies," Each of us breathes with our me-time, moments carved out of daily routines. You can have your one too." Life was about balance; no one's life was perfect, and she was ready to head out for the day.

***

A black and white photo of the author, Tulip Chowdhury.
Tulip Chowdhury


Tulip Chowdhury is a long-time educator and writer. She has authored multiple books, including Visible, Invisible and Beyond, Soul Inside Out, and a collection of poetries titled Red, Blue, and Purple. Tulip currently resides in Massachusetts, USA.

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