Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reclamation

Today was my first time catching a train at Mira Road station. It is quite a pretty place. The ticket counter is on the first level and there's a walkway that takes you to the various platforms. Mira Road has a view of the creeks and salt pans on one side. That entire expanse is open and free. Today, it was cloudy so the vista seemed awash with a minty-powdery-blue hue. It was a lovely November afternoon.

While waiting for the train, I was generally thinking of my current situation. By next year, I have to have some solid plans on where I will be staying, which city, whether I should take up different kinds of work from what I'm doing now, etc. I would like a little more solidness to my life now. The gypsy needs a nest. The gypsy needs to rest.

Around me, people may have been thinking about similar issues. They hid it with such panache, though. An old man sipped his tea noisily, a young girl in indigo leggings and raven-black boots scrunched a packet of Lays and threw it away. Some young children ran about and later begged their mother for some water. Their mother in a beautifully embroidered burqha produced a bottle as if by magic. A beggar came and demanded money - ten rupees to be exact.

I got into the train amidst unnecessary aggression. Pushing, shoveling, pummeling, stampeding, crying, shouting is such an intrinsic fabric of Bombay train life that it's become impossible to imagine any other kind of situation. It's a little weird. The train zipped to the next station. Even the speed couldn't mask the slow, melancholic degeneration of urban life. The 'make-do', the crowded emptiness, the jostling for space greedily coupled with the need for contact.

Just ahead of Malad, though, I saw a very beautiful sight. Two young boys, maybe 10 or 11, were playing in a sandy area that was surrounded by slums. One boy sat on a broken Syntex tank while the other seemed to be racing about from here to there. They wore shorts and shirts that had lost their original color a decade ago, maybe. In fact, their clothing seemed too small for them. They had long, cookie-brown legs warmed in the sun. The one sitting on the Syntex was trying to mend a broken kite. Suddenly, he leapt up and flung the kite in the air. The kite caught the wind and flew. The other boy ran behind and tried to jump and bring the kite down. Their faces shone with such exhilaration that it broke my heart.

Bombay creeps up and erodes so much so quickly. One day one can wake up and wonder how long has it been before one remembered a dream. Or one could look at a baby and wonder if she will ever see a sunflower field. Or be at a mall's Kidzone and wonder if that time is passed when kids would gambol up a leafy lane with nothing to do, no idea what to do next and be perfectly okay being clueless.

But like with everything else in Bombay, happy surprises happen just as rudely as the sad ones. These two boys reminded me of some thing. That the world of sunlight, innocence, and silly laughter is never lost. It's reclaimed every time a child runs across barefoot on the sand.




4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You write beautifully!
You should definitely write a book,there is so much poetry and i can actually visualize it all.

Mukta said...

Thanks so much Anon

vanderloost said...

Beautiful...

Anonymous said...

waiting,for your next!