When I decided to move a little farther from my office, the time consuming traffic, the three modes of commute and a pair of tired eyes dwindled in my mind. I was apprehensive but I did eventually move. And, boy, am I glad I did it!
It takes me around one hour from my office to my home, the entire journey being traversed via a bus, a metro and an auto. I leave my office with an exhausted mind and body. But as soon as I sit in the bus, the wheels begin to spin and my story starts. The story that accumulates thousand others, pouring a piece of their souls into mine.
The vadapau wala’s artistic dash in the way he smashes the potatoes and pours the imli paani in the puri, the happy families under the bridge, the corporate honcho’s headrest in the windshield of his Mercedes car, the old man with “Love all religion” message in the traffic signal, the crass adult film posters adorning the side walls, the random talks with an auto driver about talking parrots, the glittering lights embellishing the lokhandwala lane gradually impregnate my story and by the time I am in the elevator of my building, my story turns into a behemoth figure, waiting to break through the shackles of my mind and lie down in my notebook. And it does, yawning and curled inside the warm pages, only to grow a little bigger the next day.
Sometimes, my story comes out of the pages and takes a pleasant stroll – in the curl of my lips when I am sipping a glass of juice in solitude, in the corner of my reminiscent eyes when I am looking at someone, in the tip of my tongue when I am conversing with my folks and in the nib of my pen when I am jotting down something.
One day, I was sitting in the girl’s compartment in the metro when a young mother came in with her little son tagging along. The kid sat next to me. Soon curiosity hit him.
“Mamma, why are no boys here?”
“Son, this side is only for girls and that side is for boys”
The kid looked around horrified to suddenly realize that he is the only boy amidst so many girls. His cheeks turned red.
“Mamma, I don’t want to be here. I want to go that side”
“It’s ok kid. This side is for kids too”
“Mamma, I am not a kid. I am a boy. I will stand with the boys”
And off he went to the other side where he “belonged” reaffirming his gender.
The other day, near my building, I saw a group of kids announcing who they are ‘pakkhi’ with and who they are ‘kacchi ‘with. From the midst of these banters, a little girl came forward and said in a condescending tone,” this is not good. You all are fighting every two seconds. You should really learn to let go of your ego, then only we can play”. Yes, a tiny girl talks about ego hassles! She promptly invades my story and claims her place in my conscience. And then there are occasional characters like an 80 year old white bearded poet talking about his love for Urdu poetry and constant call on his mobile phone by someone asking about his whereabouts or a bespectacled scientist from Nigeria who believes Sridevi is the most beautiful woman on this earth that dot my pages here and there.
It’s strange how some people and some moments become metaphors of so many epiphanies in your life. These may sound like mundane ramblings for I am not a raconteur. But in these 60 minutes, I live a different world everyday that forms confetti of several anecdotes in my mind and pulls a string in my heart, of which the music lingers. It’s like every time I look back my journey, I realize that I have changed so much bit by bit that I am no longer the person that I was an hour ago.
No matter the heavy monsoon, no matter the potholes, no matter the chaotic traffic. All I care about are the stories within. The longer the better.