Friday, May 23, 2008


Day Two

Cars are stuck in a jam, hot and smelly. Fumes of gas spew into the air and cause confusion, in the air and in the mind. Fuel again – that manna from hell. My manna has been emptied into the engine and I am hungry again. This time I sit strong for there is more shortage and news.

The paperboy shouts out the headlines. The vernacular is strangely potent and welcoming. I can barely hear the words but I believe it is more about the 'war'. The newspaper has found its reader and there is an exchange of lucre. The newspaperman will drive again tomorrow.

A man-child dressed in raw and rough shrouds is selling hot gram. Will he walk again tomorrow? The air gets thicker with the fumes and we all cough. The gram seller shouts out and three dark women in a truck giggle. There are red tomatoes along with them. These have come from the country. The pristine bucolic colour of the tomatoes is bursting from the plastic bag. The women buy gram and tease the seller. The vernacular is even warmer.

We pass a park - shabby little trees and overgrown grass with stories to tell. There are broken iron wedges on the fence. These keep out and bring in. Those hands that have torn now tear and tell. There is a space for storytelling. It is just that - telling a story of neglect and woe. Neglected by the powerful but powerful in their opinions.

I have my own story of neglect but I still have hope. There will be shortages as there is one today. The drivers are on strike. They will not pay overdues - dues that are sucked from their coffers and payment for plying the roads. There is a slogan painted on a white blanket. Fiery red letters scream out their angst.

My driver bows to a pond with a temple. The vernacular again – it smiles at me now. Surrounded by water, the deity is calm and wise. The angst will spill but not blood. There should not be blood. Blood spilt long ago is still dark on the road. Tires might burn but blood will flow not dribble.

A bronze lantern swings in the wind. Signboards and markets sell their wares. The lantern is strangely comforting. It is the light that burns on a beautifully carved platter. It swings and the movement is like a song. There is a gesture of hands joined together and then the vernacular. I still have hope for myself and for them.

The ditch is deep – the earth overflows. Cycles jingle jangle alongside the crevice but do not fall in. The art of the driver is learnt from his father. I hear a horn but it is not vernacular. It is a strange noise amidst this scene. My driver smiles and shows the gleaming gold coin. The engine rattles and roars and we move ahead.

We reach the garage. The driver and his gold coin heave a sigh of relief but I am not full.

(PS. This is Day Two. Suggestions for improvement are also welcome.)

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