EDITED VERSION. NOT THE OLDER ONE... DO CRITICIZE, IF ANY :)
A STORY OF NOBODY
A busy metropolitan bus stop. The crowd in such a place is needless to say; bunches of people like mayflies at dusk surrounding an oil lamp—uneven, strewn in random, with no definite formation—that even Wall Street might fail to compete with. The always warm weather, all out of a sudden, became unbearably scorching even in that very morning hour.
A few college-goers, both male and female, stood in an aberrational fashion under an old almost-dead tree. They stood in flocks like birds of same feather. The congregation would contain, at least, 20 of them. The population was being shared, almost, equally by boys and girls—an almost rare site to see in a country that has low boy-to-girl ratio—or, at least, in public, as girls, in most of the traditional families, were brought up in senseless restriction to be always indoors, and least encouraged to go out. While most regions of the nation had got rid of such discriminatory practices, there are, indeed, a few which still enjoy entertaining the “gender-ly” injustice. Dark rooms such are, having none to light a candle in there; and resistant to light, too, they are, that even if some comes to light, they won’t permit them in.
The girls were not very modern and all are wearing churidhars* which is the only dress allowed by the college management. They all are having a bag that runs diagonally left to right—a strap from their left shoulder through the bosom up to right hip, when seen from front. The bag was hung, being par to their rear. They wore the same type of bags in the same pre-set way as if it too is their uniform. Ripples of laughter rose high suppressing the engine roars, often. More than are they interested in getting their bus, it seemed that they are engaged in speaking of and mocking their opposite (maybe ‘opponent’) sex.
The boys, who stood a few feet away from the bevy, were also engaged in the same—a few boasting of their ‘adventures’ and unnecessarily laughing in higher decibels, speaking hoarsely to attract their opponents’ attraction. Though the opponents’ are mutually aware of each other’s motives, both the sides maintained as if being ignorant of it, and feigned as if brushing aside the other side. A few boys only had bags and others had their only assets—a single bound long size notebook—in their hands. A few girls also had no bag, but a few notebooks, and they, in addition to the stationeries, had a cell phone added to their possessions.
A few corporate workers stood in their ‘perfect’ suits—the dress code for identifying the enslaved. They, a few years, back would have stood the same way as of the college-goers, separated from other gender, and now both the sexes stand together. An inner exhortation to show off to the outside world that they are not as silly as those kids, and that they are cultured and modern. Standing a few feet in front of the actual bus stop and blocking a certain width of the road, they threw their gazes in widespread angles, shrinking their visages seeing certain set of people as if they have come from mars.
Under the actual roof (bus stop roof) stood a few office-goers whose faces were laden with sneer, which made their face further black; a few housewives (who hate to be called so, and preferred to be called ‘homemakers’) carrying a bag of vegetables; a few school children with their cursed load—as cursed like a donkey; and finally, a few who won’t fall under any one of the aforesaid categories, who shared the space being irritated by the clouds of all other categories!
Then came this man. He was filthy. It would have been, at least, as per the corporate girl’s mind voice, six months since he took bath. He carried with him a bag—a jolna pai (a kind of bag that runs loose and has no means of adjusting length). The bag was spangled with twice the filth that he was loaded with, that it was veiled with a black cover, concealing its “true colours.”—not like humans who conceal their “true colours” intentionally, the bag’s is unintentional, the reason being the ignorance, and carelessness of the man who possessed it. A man who doesn’t care of his own dirt, will he be caring the dirt load of a mere lifeless being? After analysing all these features only, a school girl of approximately 13 or 14 saw that one of his black worn out, torn out shirt sleeve is floating in air. Oh! He has no hand! She quickly tried to find out which hand it is and said to herself ‘left.’ She thought that losing left is less cruel than losing right. She refused to agree that losing either is cruel.
He came and sat at the middle of all—in between the decaying tree and the bus stand roof. He sat just like that. An empty stare fell on him being released by a housewife. He started groping into his unkempt grey hair. A college girl who went astray from their conversations (!) eyed him narrowly and thought that his hair would be an abode for a thousand snakes! What an irrational thought!
A few cars came to a halt before the tree and picked up few of their fellow college mates—the rich friends picking up the middle-class friends. To own a car in India, is, unlike in other countries, an affluence. Each of the cars saw the man with aversion and internally, the pistons cried to get out of his sight at the earliest, though this man doesn’t give a speck of interest to its cursed life—a life where you have to run continuously. You’ll be blown away, and there is your enemy named as ‘crankshaft’ who will send you back (technically, to Top Dead Centre, called TDC) again to receive another whip. A life full of lashes! Allowed only up and down, enslaved inside a cylinder. Nowhere to escape! Pity you!
The man had his folded skin turn black with muck which is not his originality. One college guy wondered how easily had he attracted the attention of his ‘opponents,’ which he himself has been trying in vain for years! He refused to see the man’s misfortunate living. All that danced before his mind is the guy attracting everyone’s interest, especially that of the girls’. He even is not aware that it is not an “interest.” All this said, the man who is projected to be a beggar, though he doesn’t ask anyone anything, sat calmly, with inner piece, unaware of every eyes being set on him. Bath not, wash not your clothes and comb not your hair for a fortnight and you too will be a “projected” beggar. Maybe he’s a saadhu (yogi)—the thought progress of a middle aged woman who will fall under the category of no category.
Then a man came, possibly an office-goer, who was late for work. He was running from quite a distance towards a bus that was halted in the bus stop, to be replenished with passengers. The bus roared and it was evident that it was about to get away. He increased his speed. All eyes, other than of those who lined up to get in, were on him. A shift in interest. How wavering is human attentions! For a few days our attention will be on our neighbour’s newly bought bike, then will be on a friend’s birthday gift, then on a handsome one, then on our accelerating hair loss, then on, then on...
The bus started. A few souls prayed for him to get the bus.
The bus cruised (at least, it will try to, for, in a metropolis, the word “cruise” is but an incongruity) Oh! The man criss-crossed his legs and started to tumble! There he went on rolling. Oh, at least, a five or six rolls. He came to a halt before the tree. The college girls took a foot aback yelling out ‘Yikes! Hey! Oh!’ and similar sorts of sounds. Everyone stared at the unfortunate event. The bus went away with the curious look of those who stood in the last rung of the three-rung footboard. Everyone just set out their vision on the man on street. The two wheelers just curved around him and went. His dress got torn at a few pieces irregularly. Isn’t it absurdity to expect a set-pattern from a dress getting torn?
The beggar, on seeing it, immediately ran to his rescue and caught the man on road with his only one hand. During the act, his jolna slipped out of his shoulder. He didn’t care. The man who regained his feet stood eye-to-eye with the beggar and gave a panoramic view about all those who stared at them—unaffected, and suffused with “I-don’t-care” attitude. Then he saw again the beggar and found love, care, sympathy, empathy, and divinity—all in a filthy man’s shrunk eyes. He didn’t feel repugnant.
*Churidar – a type of Indian dress.
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