Monday, May 25, 2015

Stealing a moment from Monday

Volvo or no Volvo, a 12 hour bus ride is definitely exhausting. So when I reach my destnation, the Delhi inter-state bus terminal, relief is exhilarating. And no the place does not extend an assausive, comforting embrace so characteristic to my hilly hamlet. It welcomes you with crass cacophony of a metropolitan that jolts you wide awake from your slumbers of the night before. So by the time I get off the bus, fetch my luggage and bargain with an auto-driver, finally making him succumb to my offer of 150 bucks (the metre works but only on papers), the four day visit to my hometown has already become a memory. The growing sun beats down whatever spirit is left in me as the auto crawls through Monday traffic on roads.
We are crossing the red fort now. The brick red pride of India with the Tricolor fluttering unrestrained. Trust me, you cannot help but feel awed by the striking splendor standing stoically amidst the lush green lawns. Delhi can be charming too, if it tries. But such moments are so rare and interspersed that more often than not Delhi is synonymous to a crazy frenzy. Atleast to me.
Digressions apart, we are crossing the red fort now in all its majesty. The place is largely by itself at this hour of the morning. The pedestrian-walks bare and stripped naked by the MCD workers. Save for one or two spots where the homeless have found free shelter. Yes, right outside the biggest monument of our liberation and emancipation as nation, you will often come across ragged and jagged people nesting in the twilights. They pack their bags by the morning only to return by the eventide.
Of the two such misfortunate, one is still sleeping, oblivious to the dawning of Monday morning. I envy his carefree sleep but then who knows he might have passed out on some drugs. The other one, a few steps further from the one sleeping, more animate, more sentient. Why I say so shall be clear in the narrative that follows.
Bare chest, his skin the shade of glistening deep brown wood, he sported mostly an even tan. His dhoti, soiled and greased, so much so that it is not possible to tell the color and stains apart. His feet cracked and soles blackened. His golden brown hair,beard and moustache, matted, tangled and knotty. His hands I can not see for one is hidden from view and the other hidden in an oversized canvas tote, equally soiled. His eyes lift skywards. Knowingly.
Suddenly a flock of birds appears, perching upon what seemed to be their regular positions, loud sonorous hungry bird calls resonating in the morning air, waiting to be fed. The hand in the tote moving hastily now, spreading the grains. He empties the tote and waits. The first of birds pecks the grains, followed by another and then many more follow suit. His expression that of pure exaltation. His eyes still skywards, his hand still in tote. Looking at his clowder with great satisfaction as it feeds.
The auto moves further with a loud crackling sound. But I carry the moment with me.