It must have echoed, the sound of that final applaud, but may be I was too in a hurry to get out of that hot-ideas-melting room I am not sure whether it did echo or not. But there are some things in life that we can take for granted, I am sure it much have echoed. Once I was out of the room and down on the ground I should have felt everything new, but I didn’t. I should have seen everything as something new, but I didn’t. I should have started afresh, but I couldn’t. I didn’t. Though I wanted to…though I want to…
I ask ten different people for ten rupees. Finally, one gives. I take.
It’s not easy living on forty rupees a day. It’s difficult asking for more. Difficult not because they, people at home, won’t give me, difficult because, I think, I have know it too early that money don’t grow on tree. But do I really care for it ? And above all, how much is too much? Escape.
He and she.
Evening. A lovely, lonesome evening. Two entirely different creatures from the same species saunter under that monochrome but beautiful evening. One is carrying a bag: the other is carrying a bag and rolled papers. One is a boy and the other is a girl. One is Cancer, the other is an Aries. They walk down the same old road, they see the same old buildings, but it’s evening and they see new people…NEW. They, the boy and the girl, have always been new to themselves and, to some extent, to some others as well. But do they know that? Do those some others know that? It’s not easy being new, just like it’s not easy being old. They are captured. And they are different ‘they’ in different eyes.
The girl loves Big eyes. Buffalo eyes. And when she says so to the boy, the boy thinks about the buffalo eyes but he sees the whole buffalo. And now he wonders why not only the eyes, why the whole buffalo? But that’s how he perceives a thing…that’s how he exaggerates the imagination. That’s how he is…
And that’s how she is. Imaginative? Or impatient?
The mixture of both.
The colorless evening is gaining some color…a pale purple. The girl hushed, the boy is absent in his presence. He has this habit of being there and away at the same time. But it’s not easy to remain quiet for long, especially when the road comes to a parting. Two brains. Two roads. Two destinations…but still a considerable length to cover together. So which way?
Why not a new-neither that nor this? They start exploring the explored.
The evening gives the impression of one of those now-it-rains evenings. The boy feels the air, almost sees it. He wants to ask the girl whether she has ever seen the air…but he doesn’t because he knows she has seen many more things. The girl is walking. Sometimes she’s into a seemingly endless talk. Sometimes she is as silent as a dead person.
The road takes them into a very narrow alley. The girl remembers Bhadra 16. For some minutes they walk down the memory lane. Common memories. It’s easy talking. The sky above looks brooding dark. And home, nothing but a place to change the clothes, is just a little far away. Home is where your heart is. The boy doesn’t know where his heart is. The boy doesn’t know where his home is. The boy doesn’t know so many things. Life’s been pretty slow on him. The existence is too hard on him. But, when alone, he thinks, he will raise above all the odds one day- the odds that he himself has created. Some knowingly, some unknowingly. But he knows how to stand tall. He’s been standing against the wind for so long…unmoved but now a little torn. And now he needs a fine stitching, for he’s already lost his nine.
And the boy shows the girl the school
And the girl forgets to show the boy the house of one of her relatives. She says ‘let’s have coffee.’ And the boy says ‘haven’t got the money.’ The girl says she has.
Under the bridge.
Past the bridge.
On the main road. Across the road. Inside the café. Coffee.
It’s a nice table with nice chairs. It’s a warm place with nice-looking people around. It’s a place where the girl had met…for the first time. She shows the boy the table they had sat, now vacant Just like the boy’s mind. The ripples rise in the mind when he stirs the sugar in the coffee. She’s done with her cold coffee…the boy watches her drag in the last sip through the straw: but he’s still got half a cup to drink. He takes his own time on her money. And she doesn’t mind.
She pays the money, sixty-five rupees. He wishes he had fifty-five more.
They don’t know when it has started raining. It’s drizzling. They walk. It’s not completely dark. It’s not the end. Life can begin at any time, just like death can greet at any time. There’s a red light glowing on the top of the pole, and the traffic is impressive. But they don’t have the time to stand still for a green light.
Rules are meant to be broken. And on such busy streets no one cares what development studies is all about. No one cares what they have just said and done in the college after the fine movies and the fine lunch. No one can afford silence these days, one has to speak…anything but speak, for we have enough time to kill around on well planned actions and things like that, which will probably never come into effort. Action speaks louder than words? How often have we actually seen it happening? It seems we all have grown wiser. The girl sees the change in the boy- he too spoke those insipid world of stale, broken wisdom when everyone was speaking. And he wonders why couldn’t he be a mere listener once again?
Was he into anything?
They cross the road, safely reach the pavement. Life has so many things to feel proud of. You don’t die even if you cross road under the red light! Is not it a reason enough to feel proud of? It’s a little darker now. But sill it’s not the end.
It’s the same old evening that comes at the end of every new day; it’s the same old pavement which leads you everyday to a place where you can change your clothes-some call it home. These are the same old trees which know your inner secrets, but you don’t give a damn to them because you know they can’t tell your secrets to anyone. But there comes a time everybody’s life when the same old things look new…suddenly the boy finds everything new…is that because of the instant energy that a cup of coffee is supposed to give? Or is that because of something else? He will think about it later. He thinks later.
It’s dark now. Night has slowly spread above like a blanket. The boy has a time to be by home. The girl has too, but they break the rules, they take risks…they walk past the several parting roads, they sit on a wall by the side of the road, they hand their tired legs down the wall. They start TALKING.
“ I often sit here, watch people, watch the sky, the moon…and I write.”
She writes. And she is good at it. He knows he will first introduce “…” by her name to his child and then only by her face. And one fine day he will tell her that its’ Rahel.
Adopted? Or own? She will ask.
He will say something.
The hoarding board. The crowd in the picture. He is a crowd in himself. She is mass in herself…
The horns…the vehicles…the people…the overloaded safa tempos, vans, buses…the rush…the hustle and the bustle of the never resting city. And above them the calm…observing crescent moon watching them TALK about everything on EARTH.
She plays with the phone. She talks on the phone. And there’s someone of her known waving his hand from the …… She walks a few steps to the left and calls the boy to show him that there’s really someone waving at them, at her. He sees a blurry figure behind the glass window, a man called…She is still talking to and waving at …the man disappears.
Now they cannot sit on that wall all through the night and TALK and TALK and TALK…they finally depart, to meet again.
It’s darker now. The boy is suddenly feeling so light and different. On the way to his HOME, he remembers most of the words spoke by that girl. He can feel the MAGIC of words.
And he feels better. And better.
The boy reaches home. To his wonder it suddenly, after a long time, looks like a home, it smells home. What happened to that a-place-to-change-your-clothes thing? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to know. He is too filled with so many good thoughts, with such a real sense of relief. And he thanks the existence for being so kind to him so suddenly. And he again thanks that good friend of his who always takes him by surprise, who makes him feel that HE CAN DO IT. HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO IT. And he believes it and feels happy. He wants to get it ALL right now…he wants to write dozens of poems and stories RIGHT NOW so that he can show to her tomorrow, and he waits for that TOMORROW to come to tell the world that he’s got something that many haven’t got-a true friend.
His cousin is on the computer, others are not at home. Someone is getting married tomorrow. A very near relative of his family. So the rest of his people have gone to bride’s.
His cousin asks how his day was. He says it was GOOD. His cousin asks about the workshop. He says it was GOOD. And his cousin shows him the work on the computer. He says it’s GOOD.
And he rests on the sofa and remembers the whole story once again:
Regular classes in an irregular day.
Sailendra’s presentation and then hers on people’s participation. Bikash’s question and her answer. “I have two answers…” He wonders will he ever be able to answer back so spontaneously…he wonders will he able to present the paper the way she does…ever.
Classes are over.
A known hullabaloo after the classes.
A reason to remain in the college: there’s a workshop and he has paid for it.
By the time he is back to the college after the short disappearance, the room is filled. Movie is ready, people are seated. She gives him the name tag. KAMLESH written in blue. He wears it right.
The movie has just started, but he leaves with his friends.
Comes back after a while. The movie is over. The red-haired-little girl is gone. And now the room is different.
Words at war.
He speaks. The anger comes, he spits. The GAME is over.
It’s already evening. The sun has set. Anger has settled. It’s time to get back to the place where he can change his clothes. He has spent his forty Rupees on Wai Wai and cigarettes and now he is broke like a beggar. He asks ten different people for ten rupees. Most of them say they don’t have it. Finally, one gives.
‘Hidera?’ she asks.
They start walking. He finds the nametag of the …girl lying on the road. She too sees it; he picks it up and keeps it in his bag. He feels good. She is carrying a thick roll of papers.
Almost no talk till the half way…it’s like one word kilometer. He remembers a line from God of Small Things.
‘Do you know what happens when you hurt people? When you hurt people they start loving you less. You know those careless words…they hurt people.”
He feels sorry. Feels guilty. Remembers Hysh…Remembers Arun dai…remembers “that’s what is Anarchy, brother.”
Those careless words.
But soon they get into it…the never ending talk…and she takes him by surprise like always..they talk about the ….girl. This boy loves her so much. Wants to be with her all the time. Wants to see her happy. Wants to talk to her just like he does with this girl who he is walking with right now. He wants to have Rahel, his own. Not adopted. But will it ever happen?
Not in this life. This boy is a typical example of a man who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks. A Pessimist.
And life? He thinks it’s good to be with it. And people like her, the girl who he is walking with right now, are so generous to show us the way to be with it. ‘Don’t forget yourself. Be yourself’. Is not it all she, the girl he was walking with, was trying to say? She was. And now what does it mean to him? A lot. He can’t even write it. But he can feel it.
And now he is looking for another reason to say it again to her:
THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, in short.
They also talked about:
Badri Sir’s assignment
Rang de Basanti
God of Small Things
The list is long