“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;”
I was travelling to Bandra via an auto rickshaw whose number plate read MH 02 UA 6055. I, as usual had my earphones plugged in and wasn’t bothered in the slightest.”Aaney waley saal mein isse bhi zzyada chota ho jayega” muttered the auto wala in a mixture of disgust and anger. I glanced in the direction of his face and saw a girl wearing a red top and denim blue shorts.Admittedly she looked what people call “hot” but I also admit that I hadn’t noticed her until he pointed her out to me.I prepared myself for a chauvinistic lecture and was not disappointed.But for the first time,I saw the deep revulsion to women exposing their legs being rooted in genuine concern and almost banal fears. “Ladka ladki key paer ghoorta rahega aur wahan gaadi thook jayegi”. His concern was not for the fact that a girl was exposing her legs(as most conservatives).His disapproval was rooted in a sense of safety.How do I know this?Well for starters,he never mentioned anything that insults women although he might have been guilty of talking about them in a manner which on extremely critical observation can be termed insulting.Rather he actually demonstrated how shameless a man can be.
As we progressed towards our destination at snail’s pace,he actually pointed out a bunch of rowdy looking males in cheap formal clothes who were grinning at the girl like a wolf glares at a lamb. “Saley haramiyon ko dekho” he said as he pointed at them. Then he went on to tell me some of his deep life philosophies. “Mard chutiya hota hai.Uski niyaat teen cheezon ko dekh ke hamesha fisalti hai. Khuli tizori,khuli bottle aur khuli ladki.Chor ke saamne paise rakho toh woh haath zaroor marega.Piyakard ke saamne bottle rakho,toh woh piyega zaroor.Ayaash mard ke saamne khuli ladki rakho,uski niyaat tharak dikhayegi.” It translates to ” Man is an asshole. His dignity or his honour always slips at seeing three things. An open safe, an open bottle(I presume alcohol) and an open girl. Keep cash in front of a thief and his hands will obviously steal. Keep a bottle in front of a drunkard and he obviously will drink.Keep a girl in attractive clothing in front of a randy man, his soul is bound to turn playboyish”.
He was about to say some more but I reached my destination and I got off.I paid him the fare and bid him farewell,and for a few moments stared at the auto going off.He stopped ,picked up an aunty in a blue salwaar kameez who had hailed him over and drove off.
This is the tale of a little boy from the city of dreams. For some peculiar reasons, people always tend to have either one of the two extreme possible ideas of a metropolitan. They’ll either imagine a pos, rich family with a father who earns more than he can spend, a suave new-age mother who watches Gray’s Anatomy instead of the useless nonsense on Star Plus, a son who studies Marx and Pounds alcohol with equal gusto and a daughter who harps over fashion and and goes crazy at the mention of how cute the new singer of some band is. Maybe throw in a pet. This is just one of the images. The other is of utter poverty where people barely have a meal to eat, let alone have savings. The mother looks like one of the patients on Gray’s while the son has only empty beer bottles to collect and dispose for money. The only fashion the daughter knows is that of the mistress’s daughter whose mother was kind enough to donate some clothes. Every stray animal is their pet. Most people classify the populace of a city into either of these two categories. This is the story of a boy who falls into neither but somehow is a reflection of both.
I met Soham/Akash( he kept alternating between the two, so I assume one was a nick name or a name used by close friends or relatives). It was a July afternoon in Mumbai, and it was pouring cats and dogs. Like every quintessential Mumbaikar, I wasn’t travelling with an umbrella.As a rule of thumb, I always stuck to a wind cheater if I was travelling within 4 stations of my house, and an umbrella for everything else. Borivali was close to Malad(by Bombay standards) so I had continued with my boycott of the umbrella but it wasn’t a decision I was particularly enjoying. Simply put, getting drenched in the rain, even with a wind cheater on, and trying to hail a rickshaw and not get pissed with each one that not only ignored me, but zipped past like a bullet, spraying me with the dirty water on the road. Suddenly, the last rickshaw which had done the same stopped roughly hundred meters ahead of me. A little kid hopped off with a thela in his hand and started running away.He had a pink umbrella and was wearing shorts,brownish-khaki in colour and a faded gray t-shirt which had black horizontal strips. I assumed that he had travelled his path and I rushed into the rickshaw. Out of curiosity, I asked the rickshaw wala bhaiya about the boy. He replied that the kid had just got onto the rickshaw a minute back but on seeing me, had asked him to stop and had gotten off. As shocked and touched I was, luckily I had the sense to be courteous enough and call the boy back. After some cajoling, I convinced him to let me drop him till Borivali station, which lay on my way home. As the rickshaw started, I looked at the boy. He appeared to be a curious little inquisitive kid, with the oily, mushroom shaped hair that only poverty begets. But the most arresting detail lay in his eyes. His eyes were yellow. Not the the rich, golden, flashy one but rather a shade that neared a dull ochre. But the dull colour was compensated by the shine in his eye as he talked about himself, and his life. In couldn’t learn much about him from the brief conversation we had, but all I know is this. Akash is a eleven year old boy who studies in the fourth grade of the local BMC school. He was on his way to Dadar, one of the most chaotic and busiest areas in Mumbai to buymogra flowers for a religious ceremony that was to happen at his home. I asked him why was he travelling so far just for some flowers. The smile on his face didn’t budge an inch as he replied “Bhaiya wahan saste mil jayenge.” . I gazed at him, wondering as to when was the last time I travelled kilometres in a stinky second class train compartment to buy something that was easily available, just because it was cheaper. I quickly hid my creeping blush behind my handkerchief, feigning a sneeze and changed the topic back to his education. He told me he learns English at school, but while he told me this, his eyes continued to stare in the direction of my phone, which had my earphones plugged in. I asked him what he wants to do when he grows up, and he replied without hesitating, “use a computer”. Again, I was puzzled and on some further probing I was informed about how his school authorities had told him that only people who pass their 12th grade exam can use a computer. I resisted my urge to laugh and simultaneously, cry.
I swam upon the devil’s lake But never, never never never I’ll never make the same mistake No, never, never, never
Mind you these mistakes don’t matter much. They are as trivial as forgetting to carry a toothbrush on an overnight trip(Okay wrong example but you get the point).The thing about us humans is that we always rectify the supposedly high magnitude errors and let it be.We never take into account those chotu mistakes which cumulate to have a huge impact on us.Not necessarily in a negative way.
For this article, I think I just caught the latter one.Or the first. Or surprisingly both.
In her own words, here’s who she is:
Cynic blatant but a total happy go lucky person who loves exploring various shades of colours on the canvas of life. I am an engineer who loves poems, painting, singing and photography – which currently seems to be the trend everywhere. I believe in accepting what ever life throws at me and accepting its challenges with a “watch me” attitude and guess everyday finds a new me.
She has composed a special poem as Valentine’s day nears.Here it goes