In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”
A lot has changed. From the time when a tiny boom box painted the rainbow of sounds across our home, as it churned out melodies after melodies on the radio and cassette player, to today when I have my sound at my fingertips. The smell of food that filled my heart will forever remain attached to the sounds I heard then. I see my mother in the kitchen, now and then. One ever so busy mother, with a job at hand, making sure all’s in order for lunch while me and my brother freshen up and change into regular clothes.
The table cleaned, waiting for a flurry of dishes be placed on it, to embrace them, to taste the curries that filled them. The table loved us. While we dearly waited for my dad to arrive, on his scooter, “Priya”, the sound of which got everyone into action. The table, all dressed, invited the hungry ones. Hungry ones always found the way. What would normally start out as lunch with sun-filled eyes ended in a blur. Somehow I don’t remember a single thing I did after lunch, probably clean the table and sleep was all I did till my pretense of being grown up finally showed through – then I studied, had to, never knowing why.
Today, while I wait for my maid to ring my doorbell and prepare what SHE calls food, I recall those afternoons, for I took them lightly, for they may never happen again. Such sweet memories and each one has a song for it. Like a straw that flows, I’ve seen a lot along the way, things appalling and shambolic, things that make me hum tunes, from the distant past. Tunes I won’t forget. Some Things change and how and Some never can!
Here is one of those tunes that reminds me of those lunches, the siestas and the pretense I now call “Studying” –
You know, there are things that we do over and over again for a considerable period of our life and then, someday we stop doing them, for whatever reasons. We never know if they were for good or bad, for they in their time never held any meaning. Then one day we stop doing them. All they give us are memories, some cherishable and some not so.
The one thing I’m doing ever since I learnt to control handles and balance, is ride. Ride, to and fro, carrying people at my back.
The 2-wheelers that I’ve used are –
1. BSA SLR – Bicycle.
2. Kinetic Luna Super Star – A bicycle with an engine, a clutch and accelerator.
3. Hero Puch Shakti 3G – A mini demon. The smallest geared bikes with the smallest of engines – a mere 65CC.
4. You’ve all already met my 4th companion, Bajaj Pulsar 180CC – One of the oldest and proudest giants in the history of Bajaj sporting bikes in India. Without it, I’m lost.
During my schooling and engineering, my brother rode as my pillion. They were fun times. Nothing except the rides changed over the years. From bicycle to Luna to Shakti, that part of our life is one the longest case of the association between brothers and their rides. We rode for long hours and I don’t remember him, even once, asking me to let him ride. He was happy and content, at the back, watching the world and giving all sorts of running commentary, describing the surroundings. Watching girls, eateries, escaping seniors, riding in the rain – through love and through fight, those days will forever remain fresh.
There was one instance when while returning from our school, it was raining really hard. I decided to have some fun and starting riding through puddles of rainwater, which soaked all of his shoes from the inside. I kept doing it, when in a fit, he opened his water bottle and emptied it straight into my shoes, and all this 60 kmph. We laughed all the way to our home. One of the happiest memories I have with him.
We’ve had our share of accidents as well, when in all the occasions, he jumped off well before the fate hit us. He is thankfully smart in those situations when I’m not. Twice in those accidents, I hair-cracked my left shoulder. But they never deterred me
Then my ride changed to Pulsar and the speed at which I normally rode changed. I remember once, when he was in Bangalore, spending time on bench in his company, I used to drop him to his office. We used to take the ‘Nice’ road. It was one clean and zero traffic road, 16 kms in length. We reached 120 kmph one day. He simply closed his eyes and felt the speed while I just enjoyed the fastest that I had ever ridden, things passing by me in time smaller than the blink of an eye. I miss those moments.
Then came my wife, and so changed my speed. All she ever has said about my riding is – “You are the only one with whom I don’t try to balance the bike”. I clearly am her favorite!
Riding is also the time, I think about my life the most. I contemplate all serious issues, when I’m seated on my bike. I have my commentary running for all that while. “Government must ban all women and old drivers”, “Why the fuck does everyone change their lines at the last moments”, “What happened to them indicators” yada yada.
And then there’s my favorite song by Joe Satriani – “Ride” – that defines some philosophies of my life –
This clearly is my favorite daily ritual!
A dedication to this post is the song whole world loves –
This list isn’t exhaustive and will never be. I can’t see my future and won’t imagine it too, for vivid dreams have a way of becoming stumbling blocks for happiness. But here are somethings that I want to do, to get my head straight –
1. Grab my first chance at a solitary holiday for a month or so. I need my time doing nothing, no contacts, no family, no communication, no gadgets. Just food, water, me and may be some strangers who deal in nothing but love.
2. I want to go soundless once. Listen to absolutely no sound, so I can listen to myself, for I want to clear the noises in my head, that have become quite a puzzle to solve over time.
3. This one is explicit and can’t be revealed here. (Thinking sex? Bingo!)
My dad arrived home today. He’s come to say goodbye to the sixth member of our family who leaves for US tomorrow! Sounds so hunky dory, doesn’t it?
But, I killed it for myself. I’m running low on cash these days, for a lot of travelling and health bills were torn against my name this month. So instead of taking the more expensive option of auto rickshaw, I decided to use the Delhi Metro to reach the New Delhi railway station and help dad deal with the luggage that he was carrying. Well it wasn’t as heavy as I’d expected but it sure was difficult bringing it up to the 2nd floor of my house.
So, DELHI METRO! The pride and joy of Delhi. The only project in India that’s actually making profit. The guys worked really hard and it shows. Terrific infrastructure and great maintenance. Something though, didn’t feel very right yesterday. As I gathered myself from slumber, and walked to the platform, there were huge groups of people waiting to board the metro. Something was wrong!
The metro arrived packed to its capacity and yet around 20 of us managed to find a place to stand with people’s armpits on my nose and my armpits on someone elses and what not! Ugghhhh!
Now to make matters worse, there are close to 15 metro stations between the station that I boarded and the New Delhi railway station. Each time the door opened for passengers, when 2 left, 4 boarded. I had my headphones plugged in though and people weren’t really bothering me, just that I knew how I’d smell like after I got down from the train. People inside just kept making space out of nowhere and people from outside kept boarding till the last inches were used up. And then some more came in!
Then a scuffle stirred up. A police constable standing right in front of me and next to the door, tried to stop passengers from getting in, for there was absolutely no space left in the coach. The counter argument from the outside was – “You get down as you are the public servant” and they started pulling out the constable nearly tearing off the sleeves from his shirt. The constable though had nowhere to go, for he was stuck inside just like all of us were, and so they even couldn’t pull him out, such was the agony we were all going through!
To be honest, I was enjoying this. This misery that people decide to put themselves through everyday, made me feel proud of what I had achieved in life and how my resolution to never put up with this kind of life always put me in a better place. I made a resolution very early in my struggling days that I’ll never use public transport for two reasons –
1. Those places are very vulnerable and I have too much to do in life than die in an accident or a bomb blast.
2. They are very risky, for Indians in general treat public transport like the transport system owes them something once they’ve paid for the ticket. What they don’t think of is, these are the same buses and trains they may need to take everyday for the rest of their freaking lives, and they are all responsible for its upkeep and smooth operations. But once they stop respecting the means, the means stop respecting them and so they start crumbling, till they are at the point of breaking and that’s when public transport becomes a danger. Case in point, was the taxi that we boarded, once my family members had arrived. That taxi sounded awful and when it started to move, I felt the wheels coming off every time we made a left turn!
Now back to the Metro. We were about to reach the largest station among all metro stations – Rajiv Chowk. Rumors started flying that the train will be half empty by the time we leave this station, and sadly ALL the passengers along with me were eagerly waiting for this miracle to happen, quite badly! And like all stories that don’t have a happy ending, luck didn’t favor me this time! No one got down and still some more found a way to get in. The next station was where I was to unboard. This was real tricky. For once in my life, I had to handle people subtly and that I did. I started cracking mean jokes that made people laugh and in between, I’d ask them to make some space to let me reach the door, so I don’t miss my drop station caught up in this hell hole. And I made it, just not on my feet though. The moment the door opened, I (125 kgs) was picked up in the air and helped down right next to a pillar. I have absolutely no freaking clue how or what happened. I just counted my lucky stars for the night, checked my wallet and my watch, and started to walk to the railway station.
This was one hell of a ride, and I’m never travelling in a Metro again. what’s tha God awful smell? Wait, I smelled ‘PEOPLE-ISH’!
I don’t think I need to tell anyone what denial is. I was in denial – all my life. I can safely say that I’m more than three-quarters through my life now and I have no one else than my family to thank. I don’t know what love is! I’ve never known love but I believe it’s a strange combination of respect, responsibility, care, and detailing. And I guess that’s what me and my family have. That cocktail of aforementioned ingredients that binds us.
The two late comers in our family, my wife and my brother’s wife, they were I think destined to share their lives with us. Now they are what me and brother are, to my parents. A simple enough structure, no joint family, phew! The kind of people we all are, only 2 out of 6 are extroverts – dad and my wife! The way we take care of each other is very unique – for me it is! But I feel all families are unique in their own little ways.
Just want to say – I love you all and be around like you always are. This bugger needs you sometimes – OK, all the time!
I’m all smiles now. After 13 years away from my parents and a lot of struggle to make a living and surviving on it, trying to prove myself in every sphere of life, is it too much to ask for satisfaction?
Not asking for too much, can this perturbed soul be granted freedom? Let some spirit come and take my soul away. Free it. Let it find satisfaction for it is clearly not possible while living on this planet. This isn’t a post in depression but happiness.
For once in my life I imagined a good place, good people, satisfactory job and a happy family. All these days, especially the past few years, I’ve been so busy stabilizing my life from the earlier jolts, that I could only now let my spirit run free and try to look on the other side.
What I live now isn’t too bad. It’s just undisciplined monotony. The one that gives me enough sleeping hours to keep by brain sane. Nothing except that is stable. The list of “must-dos” just doesn’t seem to shorten. The long nights never let an early morning pavé its way into my routine. I’m getting so obsessed with blogging, I keep thinking of things to write about, even in my dreams. And hence the long nights.
Is writing my goal? Not sure but I’m giving it a serious thought these days. I’m not a very versatile writer but am good enough to make a living writing for small town newspapers I guess. Small little things that don’t need heavy-duty vocabulary and as I get better, things could move further. Yes, I’m thinking of an alternate career with no pedigree to show for it. It’ll have to start small, very small. But these are just thoughts.
Then I ought to have kids too. Family’s gonna grow. Wife’s got to have a stable career. And this is when my bubble bursts. Why do I have to think about anything else when I’m already doing pretty good in my current profession? I need something else to do. I’m blogging yes but it isn’t exactly a source of income, is it? I am the lone earner in my family and should I give up on my current income? Do I need a second income? Well, who doesn’t? But how much effort will it be? Will affect my productivity in the better of my jobs?
That brings me to my career. I feel I’m at crossroads and deciding which direction to pursue is giving me a hell of a time.
Amit had turned into a steadfast disciplinarian after marriage. He had vowed to never let his pre-marriage sluggishness slow his career and family down. And it rubbed on his family too. They would wake up early, spend time together and move on to the day. Dinners were together and so were the weekends. They loved and admired each other. For his children, he was a role model.
But he woke up early that morning. It was 5:00 and he couldn’t sleep again. He freshened up and came close to Maya who still looked fresh like she was fooling him with her sleep. The autumn sun had begun to make way through the window panes and Amit noticed it was disturbing her. He playfully placed a finger to put a shadow on her eyes. She relaxed. He then removed it slowly. He repeated it and got the same response. The third time, she slowly moved her eyelids and opened her eyes. She loved waking up this way and Amit knew it. They held palms together and he helped her get up to rest against the head of the bed. It was very quiet. The kids would wake up in half an hour and they wanted to spend this precious time together. She got up, prepared tea when she noticed, Amit staring at her from the kitchen door. She felt amazing with this attention and went up to him and hugged him real tight.
Amit needed this and so did she. Somehow Maya always knew what he wanted and the same stood for Amit. They felt love. And yet the uneasiness that had woken him up, didn’t subside. He whispered in her ears while holding her against his chest – “Can you skip work today? Lets watch a movie together at home”. He sounded so excited that Maya almost gave up the thought of office but the reports struck her head immediately and she said – “Baby, you’ll have all my time from a few months later. Let me finish my office tenure on a high and not flunk on a few bugging reports. Boss gets irked”. Amit almost knew her answer to the letter and yet somehow controlled his anger hormones and answered wryly – “Sure!”.
They broke their hold finally and started their respective days. Woke up their children, bathed them, got ready themselves, pulled the car out of the garage after a heavy breakfast and scurried into the traffic. Amit just couldn’t yet get his gaze off from Maya. She looked stunning and he was jealous of her male colleagues for they got to see her more than he did. The pinches of uneasiness in his heart though, had started to show on his face now.
After dropping her off at her office and children to their schools, Amit after a few miles stopped to text Maya – “Would it be possible for you to come home early today? I just want to see you home in bed today”.
He drove again after a pat on his steering wheel and his phone beeped with her reply – “I’m really sorry sweetheart but no”.
Maya couldn’t help but think of Amits behaviour and wasn’t sure of what exactly was bothering him. He had never pushed her from work till date and it was awkward. He had always been laid back and he knew all this would end soon.
Amit in his office, on rarest of occasions, was seen pacing the floor and some even saw his temper flying. He wanted Maya so bad and couldn’t wait to hold her in her arms again in the evening. He even thought of visiting Maya during the lunch but later rationality struck and he gave up the thought. He worked and waited for the evening – drinks and bed. He had smiled.
Maya on the other hand was having a rough day. A few mistakes hither and thither, were already pushing her behind her schedule. She had thought of calling Amit after lunch but Boss had come calling. She had given up and began waiting for her time with Amit in the evening. She had smiled.
She just didn’t know, Gurgaon had other plans for her tonight.
Before starting to read this, please beware that the post has mature and violent content and is recommended to be read only by adults.
She got ready to leave when another file arrived. She didn’t want to be late for her home again. Oh no – not another late night stay at the office, for they were unfruitful and weren’t getting her family’s life anywhere. Her 2 sons only saw her face in the mornings and she knew that husband had forgotten her touch and she had no clue if he even yearned for it any more. She missed it too but these deadlines were killing her. It had been 4 months since their last bed adventure. She looked at her hands and noticed a few extra wrinkles popping up – she would make amends with all of her family on their marriage anniversary. She would let her husband know, how much she loves him and how much she still craves for his kisses on her nape. A smile escaped her lips and she had goosebumps at the very thought. Her sons deserved gifts for their grades in the mid-terms.
But she had to complete this report tonight. Just another month of this frenzy and she’ll quit her job to settle for a much quieter life with her family. Oh how much she loved ’em all!
3 hours later after she had wrapped her report, it was exactly 9:37 pm. By the time she’d reach home, it’d be 11:30 and she knew a heated encounter with her husband was definitely on the cards. But first things first and she quickly boarded an auto-rickshaw for the METRO train station. A look at the loo at the station and she knew, a visit was overdue – such was her hurry. A quick glance at the mirror and the empty loo and she knew she was still looking dangerously fine in her sleeveless deep cut kurta and her black leggings paired with 4 inch heels – attire that people of the great city of Gurgaon didn’t embrace much.
And just as the thought crossed her mind, a hand reached her behind her head, grabbed hold of her hair and her bag and dragged her out of the lady’s room, onto the empty station and across into the mens room. Too aghast to even shout, she frantically fought with all 10 hands that had started groping her, her eyes and mouth tight shut by a few of them. Some were at her breasts, some behind her and some on her legs, her hands pinned by 2 legs. She could see nothing – it was dark. They were scratching her, trying to rip her clothes apart and she felt something really cold going down in her throat into her empty stomach with her teeth clattering against an opening of a bottle. Alcohol. And then a moment of silence. Too frightened to open her eyes, they started pouring warm liquid all over her. What was it – Pee! Onto her face, into her mouth it went everywhere and all she could smell was alcohol. They beat her up, into her ribs, her face, thighs, calves, shoulders, guts – she could feel the thick hard-plastic and hard rubber soles of their shoes digging inside her flesh with every kick. The torture continuing for what seemed like ages.
She was under intense nausea now with so much alcohol inside her and losing her consciousness fast. They dragged her onto her feet again and she limply followed them while they held her hands behind her shoving her into a van.
They took turns beating her up inside the van while they roamed scot free on the roads of Delhi. She saw people peeking inside the van at traffic stops but no one seemed to care. After what was an eternity, the atrocities came to an end when they mercilessly threw her out of the moving van into an abandoned garbage corner. She was unconscious and laid there in her bare minimums and clothes on the road. As the morning started to grow by early morning she regained consciousness, found her bag, wore her still pee-drenched clothes and with no help available, dragged her severely bruised body to the nearest hospital.
With all the courage and power through the searing pain that she could muster, she could only faintly mumble – SAVE ME!
There’s a lot of your past you wish you could forget – like erased blank… swish… wiped off of your memory slate. Then there is your past that you just can’t forget. Not that it affects you but its a huge burden on your brain to carry and you wish you could just write it off onto your blog for good. The latter is what this post is about.
A huge house.
Lots of people.
The compulsory siesta.
Kulfi (Sweet Indian summer delicacy).
A lot of people around will find these dots really easy to connect. I want to write it out ’cause I don’t want to retain them yet remember them forever – kind of memoir to myself – only for my personal use. These are recollections from (last) – a 13-year-old fat boy who diluted a relationship on a very bad note and will regret it forever for he never got say the final adieu.
His summer vacations would last for about 75 days as these were the hottest months in his part of the country. All he knew was it was time for indoor afternoons and fun & frolicking evenings with no homework, coolers, mangoes, lychees, lots of sleep, lots of cricket, ludo, carom, puzzle, TV, cartoons, video games. Just him and his brother enjoying and playing with each other. It was a time for all heavenly stuff. Things he never knew, he would love so much but that he would get berated off forever. These days often arrived after he had received his gift for his stand-out performances in school exams – HotWheel cars, cycle, carom board and many others like these. He would be very happy to board the train for that familiar destination. No matter how many times he had been there, it was always fresh for he knew no other world and these represented the only two worlds that he spent his childhood in.
You gotta give it to the place – Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India! Place which gave the world one of the most beautiful scenery in Bhedaghat on the river Narmada. A river bank located purely on marbles! It’s beautiful – the air itself is pure – rather was pure (just been to the place after 11 years and felt a bit let down).
Lets start off with the journey to the place. He couldn’t wait to get inside the train. To get the smell of puri-sabzi at the first station and to feel the wind on his face. To look at the train engines which according to him were a miracle that he could watch everyday on his drive to his school. The rails and the train itself were such a mystery for that small, young mind that he couldn’t (till he got Google) ever fathom how the trains even turned!! The sound of the wheels chugging below his feet, the smoke from the engine entering his nostrils (no matter how gross it would feel to others, he would forever relish that smoke), the sight of the trees passing him by at the speed of light, occasional huts, fields and rails cutting each other running along his train. And then would come the sight he still dreads – a bridge on the river Tawa. The bridge apparently had been labelled dangerous by Indian Railways standards and he would always feel that the train would fall off especially as the bridge had no rails on both the sides. Nothing but a very tall height to fall into. And in between this, a far away sight of a dam. He would always wonder what that dam would look like when in full flow. Never to be experienced though. A lot of stations would pass through for that young mind to remember but he would remember things that made a direct impact on his coming life. He would remember each bridge, each platform, each fort and the smell of each one of them distinctly fresh.
Once he started to near the destination, the air of anticipation would raise the anxiety in his heart for what new and novel would surprise him this time in his second world. Nothing, nothing ever. For nearly 9 years or more on a trot, he would see no significant change. The same route always led him to the same house. The same marketplace, the same buildings, the same under-bridge greeted him. A perfect example of sustainability and persistense.
The house which still stands tall and huge – it reflected the late 80’s Indian modernism. It has seen various colors – white, pink, green and at one instance, he could also remember yellow. Six rooms on the ground floor divided by a wall with 2 doors to connect the 2 sections built with 3 rooms each. The first floor, built quite late is a replica of the section below from the ground floor with rooms that were larger. But no matter what you did and where you were in the house, it always gave the same feel everywhere every single time (wish I had some pictures).
Their welcome was always the same – Nani (maternal grand-mother) would shower them with holy Ganga water and then the entry. Keep the luggage at the proper place and room. Then go about the chores in the house according to time you make an entry in it.
Coming to the chores, a typical day in that household would be something as follows:
Wake up… roll up your bed… place it at its proper place… brush the teeth and freshen up… then it was a choice to either sit with Nanaji (maternal grand-father) and Naniji or go upstairs and have tea with a younger group which included Mama (moms bro), Mami ( Mamas wife) and their children. It was a happening group and he would prefer spending time with anyone but would prefer a place where his mother would prefer to be. Then after a heavy breakfast would be time for a bath in the cold water in the Indian summer… somehow the water always suited him more than any place else. A very clean feel after a bath. Then was the time for indoor games played between all brothers and sisters. This would normally be the time women around would engage in their household works, men would leave for office and Nanaji would spend time reading the newspaper. Games would often include Boggle, ludo, carom and sometimes if the noon was cooler, some cricket as well. He would never forget the days when all of them brothers and sisters would play together in the small porch and the sisters would just cower into corners so they don’t have too get involved in the game. Fun times they would stay. The afternoons comprised of a mandatory siesta. No exceptions for anyone in the household. No sounds. No lights. He hated that period. For he could hardly wait for evenings that would include a heavy dose of cricket, dust, dirt. No matter who would play against him, he would have had to face the boys wrath with the bat. Then return home, for now would be the time for watering the garden and the plants using the water from the hand pumps. This was the best part of his days. The freedom that was allowed to him to perform this chore would be something he would sorely miss all through his life – but he didn’t know it then. All he knew was porch was hot and plants needed water. Water the plants. Then would be turn to get drenched in the same water. This was time to get wet. To get wild with and in water. Unforgettable freshness. Change and then would be the time for dinner. Supper supper supper… super super super… nothing could beat that food for it was his mother that would cook the rotis, dal, veggies and rice. This was normally the time when Mama would return home and after dinner, he would often buy us kulfis. This would also be the time when the entire family would come out into the porch and walk for a while all the while laughing at jokes cracked. In the mean time, the siblings would find time to swing in a swing. It was built to carry at max 4 people at a time, was sturdy and brought with it the feeling of a drowning night. An awesome day was over. Now was the time to show the mosquitoes the power of Baygon. Complete house would get a dose of it. Satisfied with the results, each member would bring their bed and would face absolutely no problem in laying down and sleeping but not before Mama would make his presence felt again. He would make each of the siblings kneel in line on the beds and make them repeat the mantra – La Ila… Il Lil La… Mohammed-e-Rasgullah. Fun it was and it would repeat 60 of the 75 days he would spend there.
He particularly waited for Sundays. They were usually the days when Mama would take them all for a swim in the river Narmada – Gwarighat. Back then, the way to the river was through a jungle, a sparsely populated area. Upon arrival they had to cross the river on a boat which was an absolutely out of the world feeling. To feel the river on his palms would heighten his anticipation of how water would feel like. It was truly amazing! Take off all your extra clothes, get down to your bare essentials and jump into the river. This was where he learnt to swim and he would forever respect the man who taught him to swim (Mama) and the river for letting him learn to swim in it. A good 2-3 hours of frolicking in the water would barely leave him with any energy and when out, they would all dress again and cross the river again on a boat. The sinking feeling of the separation from water would forever lure the boy. But life had to move on and to the next shop upstairs on the ghat. The shop where Mama would make each one of them indulge into Bhajiyas and laddus. He would then be totaled. Even with absolutely nothing left in his body to endure the remaining of the day, he would remain jubilant and never know that he was tired to shit pieces. The first foot on the bed when home, would cover his body with the most tantalizing freshness of a sleep so richly deserved (or thats what he thought).
There had to be days when he had to go and meet his father’s family members. It was normally a day worth of affair and spent peacefully. They were nothing special except for some cricket that he would get to play with his elder brothers.
He loved it and would forever love it. Those days would define his character for the rest of his life. He would learn a lot from those days but the best lesson was – hard work always tastes bitter but reaps sweet rewards.
The child has grown up to be 29 now but nothing would make him forget his longing for the water and he would still dream in red!