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Just Saying

Just Saying

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Night in her Days

It had been months since I had been there: crossed that busy road through the impatient halt of vehicles to the other side, breathed the sweet smell of freshly baked muffins rolling out from Flurry’s kitchen, sang along the songs played upon by vendors selling cassettes and CD’s on the footpath and that is just when walking with the tide of people, I had caught her sun kissed face; smiling at her own reflection on the granite wall and since then she had been in my eyes, in the back of mind, in the prayers of my heart, through every single day that I have lived after that.

She sat upon the stone pavement, enfolded in the innocence of her own world. In her short hair I figured twigs from a birds’ nest and a speck of feather. A soiled kurta almost slipped from her malnourished shoulders, covered till her thighs. No pyajama. Her bare legs crossed one another as she sat on her hips, her back towards the crowd and a burst of glee in her otherwise broken eyes. Her untidy world had the wounds of poverty cut into its skin, yet, for what I saw through my eyes, standing amid the rush of crowd, the color of the sun slanted across her beaming face, I saw nothing less than courage that even the wealthiest and the most powerful would struggle to summon.

I then watched her lift a toy gun from her lap, load its barrel with a dart and aim across that shinning surface of the wall. As her finger pressed upon the trigger, the dart flew of its front and got stuck to the wall. She smiled at it, at her reflection on the same wall, pierced by that dart and continued with her play, while I stood there engrossed, swept over at how something as trifle as a toy gun with a sticky dart can suffice for the clothes she did not have to cover her bare legs; for the food that her body seems to have been craving for long; for the safety of a house that she doesn’t even know and for all the sleep and the dreams lost with it.

In a moment I found myself curse her situation, her family too, which I doubted she had, for not being able to give her the growing up, the basic amenities that almost everyone deserves. I cringe wondering how feminists across the world were trying to fight the darkness out of the lives of millions of women and here, right at the heart of Kolkata, a little soul was scaring me with its suffering. I struggled to see a future out of the small girl. I failed seeing her getting educated, making a life, lending direction to her ambitions. I succumbed at the weary thought of how love will forever elude her and even when she grows up it will always be the shadows of her own loneliness, her struggles of dragging herself to the night of a new day that will trail her till the end.    

And just then as I stepped off the road, I saw in her something larger than life. I saw her roll over to a man lying just beside her: shrunk, looking almost dead and sleeping beneath a tattered blanket. She sat upon his chest with a thump as the sleeping man slowly opens his eyes. Smiling, she aimed the toy gun at his forehead and then lowered her head over his face. I watched their foreheads touch, as the frail man gently kissed her nose and drifted back to his sleep.

There it was before my eyes, the big damn answers to my hopeless wandering. The slap of realization. The love, whose happening I had questioned minutes before to my thinking mind, was right there before me, blooming in a purity that I might spend a lifetime to attain and still not seek it completely. Deep down, between the beats of my own heart, I just knew that had it been the girl holding a real gun with real bullets in it, aiming across the man’s forehead, he still would have closed his eyes in faith and kissing his trust into her, would have fallen back into sleep.

That is how love is supposed to be, don’t you think? Putting your life on the line without a second thought and being each other’s forever in a world of trust, where you believe it is day or night not at the sight of the sky, but by the light in your lover’s eyes.

I looked around gathering myself. The clear sky, that day, looked almost at peace, embracing the gentle autumn sun that held the city together with its golden warmth. A stray dog slept untroubled on the steps of the renowned Oxford bookstore, crossed over by shadows of the quickly slipping day. Noisy vehicles continued to stream through the play of traffic where thousands of lives rode their way to their destination and a countless still sought for light in their dark, dreamless lanes.

Shame rose in me and crowded my senses, as I watched her lift an aluminum plate and hold it out at the passing crowd. My own questions then came stabbing back at me, punishing me for analyzing a world I had not spent a day in. Her playful darts that she shot with innocence might well had her laughter rolled over it, but each of those darts, I had felt, land right at the heart of my assuming, calculative mind and mock me with shame.

The shrunk man somehow slipped out of his quilt and leaning against the wall, sat up by his daughter - limbless, helpless, and still not hopeless.

Author - Sobhan Pramanik

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