Early February, I found myself treading cold water at around seven o’clock in the evening. It felt strange being alone in the pool at that time but everybody else had left for home to catch the 7.30 PM Monday English movie in the open-air theatre. The water was chill, slightly unpleasantly so. Our pool is reasonably small but deep throughout for swimming. It is surrounded on all sides by a patio and is open to the sky.
As the evening waned, the vista above turned purple. The intricately branched silhouettes framed the view of the sky on the pool sides. A few stars twinkled down on me swimming lazily on my back. In the utter peace and quiet, time stood still and I experienced a feeling of great calm.
View from a pool
Slowly, I began to notice things that I had ignored a few moments ago. There were flocks of birds flying in the sky. From their shapes I could make out a group of four egrets in one case, a V shaped group of twenty or so cormorants in another. Then, a large black fruit bat flapped its way across the sky, weaving undecidedly which way to go. Soon he was followed by one, then another and more and more. Where were they heading?
A couple of fruit bats veered towards a stand of False Ashoka (Polyalthia longifolia). Bats love the purple fruit which reminds me of Jamun. The koels love it too.
Time passed. The long stream of fruit bats ended. Peace returned to the pool. A furry buzzz across my cheek told me of the progress of a moth attracted to a naked light bulb in the rear courtyard beyond the pool. Pigeons roosting on the curved roof of the Officers Institute started cooing on being disturbed by something.
A soft pissh sound intrigued me repeatedly every few minutes. I peered about and saw a small shadow whizz past me and dip its maw in the pool for a fleeting instant. It was the Pipistrelle, the miniscule insect eating bat which comes out at last light to hawk the little flying insects around lamp posts. It was dive bombing the pool – was it for an insect or for water?
The tiny insect-eating Pipistrelle bat
Were there insects in the water? I looked around and after a long time found just one – it was a lone pond-skimmer struggling in the splashing water to maintain its balance in the waves set up by my moving around the pool.
Suddenly all the pool lights sprang to life and a voice said “Time ho gaya, sahab”. It was the pool attendant who reminded me that the time for closing the pool had come. Never mind, I had been in bliss for a while and I am grateful that I could enjoy it at all.