“I wouldn’t be Lorena without my skirt.”

Running films do something inside, they give rise to an ache and a firing up simultaneously. It is a sport alright but it is also something more fundamental at its core, a way to go beyond limitations. As a novice runner a few years ago, Born to Run was the first running book I read when I was nursing an injury. A few weeks after I started running, I fell and tore the ligaments on both sides of my foot pretty badly, necessitating a cast and a longish recovery. It was frustrating to have a grinding halt just when I had begun to run 5ks with ease and was enjoying their rhythm. That’s when my running mentor and friend gave me ‘Born to Run’ and I devoured the book as I waited out the injury. Perhaps that’s when the seed of running barefoot was planted although it took a while before I ditched the shoes.

Yesterday, I watched Lorena and it took me back to that book and the heady days of running. The film reminded me of the silence that would come after a long run. Before I learned to quiet the mind in less exhausting ways, running long and far was a way of emptying it. On the ground, there is nothing but one foot in front of the other and the swing of arms and a head full of chatter which settles into calm as the body and breath finds its rhythm. Walking is different, it slows thoughts to pick them at leisure, atleast the kind of ambling I indulge in.

The film speaks in the whispers of silence. As a composition, the movie is in the nature of an observation or contemplation, a looking from the outside into the quiet of an ultra-marathoner. The landscapes speak more than the individuals and give a glimpse into their stoicism, Resilience and quiet certainty of their lives. They make the threads of the 30 minutes and the rare smiles that the ultra runner flashes light up the screen as brightly as her yellow skirt. Running strips one of all that is unnecessary and some days the longing for it is almost unbearable.

image courtesy: Wikipedia

There’s one place where she impishly comments on her clothing during runs, “I wouldn’t be Lorena without my skirt.” In one section, she lifts her skirt and runs while swinging it in rhythm, an unconscious action but such a fluid one. Her footwear is a pair of humble sandals that remind me of the rain shoes we use to wear to school during the monsoons in Bombay. It was an aberration in the uniformity that was the norm otherwise in the school. We could wear any rain shoes as long as it was black but every other element of the school uniform was the same for all the kids. The pandemic has put a halt to walking barefoot outside considering that our roads are not the most hygienic of spaces.

The days have been full and incidentally work has been about a film as well. We were meant to shoot in the last week of March and then the lock down happened. Finally, we shoot today and I’m looking forward to watching some young talent do their magic. It didn’t strike me until today that it is a Saturday and a national holiday. These days have blurred the separation lines between work and home but strangely, I find the work-life balance better now.

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