I like the sound of the word, "pond". There's a quality of stillness in it, as if you are throwing a pebble and there's a 'gloop' sound, some ripples stretching out, and then silence and stillness again.
I loved this silence in the pond which lay next to my childhood house, undisturbed in the noonday heat. I would never sleep in the afternoons, and would often spend the time near the pond, trailing my fingers in the water. My hands would get caught in the floating roots of the kachuripana (water hyacinth), which grew at a ferocious pace and covered the entire surface of the pond, all green with delicate lilac flowers. When they dried, the brown balloon-like bulbs could be pricked with a pop. At other times, the pond would be covered with tiny green shaola (lichen). Sometimes, I would crouch down on the slab of cement that served as a ghaat (pond-bank) and gather the water in huge kachu-leaves (colocasia). The leaves were water-proof and the green water would transform into a shivery, silvery, mercury-like liquid, and I would imagine it to be my secret hoard of silver-riches. Sometimes, I would watch the white, orange-beaked ducks waddling aimlessly - they all obediently returned to their owner's home in the evening when they heard the familiar sing-song "CHOI-CHOI-CHOI" call. For some strange reason, nobody bathed in this pond, though the surrounding families (ours included) would use it for washing clothes and utensils (till we were upgraded and got the Municipality water connection). Once, in winter, I got the scare of my life when I almost put my foot on a whole gaggle of snakes, all sleeping together (is that the right term?), coiled around each-other at the foot of a pink hibiscus tree bordering the pond.
The pond where I (and countless other children) learnt to swim was part of a neighbour's property. The ghaat here was cemented, with proper, though slippery, steps, and the jaldhora (water snakes) and small fish would scatter away as we plunged and splashed about, practising backstrokes, dubsatar (underwater swimming) and (feat of feats) staying afloat with our feet above the water surface.
The other pond which comes to my mind is the pond-that-never-was at my mother's grandfather's (I told you, Indians love joint families) place at Belur. This was a really big pit at the bottom of the garden, with rough-hewn steps going down to the bottom, but which had no water. All the neighbours had ponds in their gardens, so this lack of water was very mysterious and much-discussed. I remember circling this pond-that-wasn't warily on my trips to Belur, and finally, only once in my life, gathering courage to go down the pit, and gaining a fish-like view of the sky and the garden.
A FINAL POINT TO PONDER: Ponds are fast disappearing from urban and semi-urban India, buried under piles of debris, newly-consructed apartments, and the greed of property developers. I have never seen a pond in Mumbai, though there are places like Dhobi-talao and Shantaram-talao (talao = pond).
What are the ponds you ponder about?