Thursday, June 24, 2010

As I was going about my work today, I was suddenly washed over by a wave of abject fear when I remembered a faint childhood memory of nearly being kidnapped.

Not only have I never related it in detail to my family, but it happened so fast and my instincts so sound that I passed it off as a phantasmal imagination. Until of course, I played back that memory scene for scene in my head not 10 minutes ago.

I remember walking back from my extra tuition class, which was opposite to my home. And as I was rounding the corner to the main gate, a Maruti Omni van stopped next to me. The right sliding door opened and a man extended his upper torso out of the van with a worn piece of paper in his hand.

His expression wasn't menacing, in fact, it was quite friendly. He was sitting with his back to the driver and interestingly another elongated seat installation faced him; I knew this, because another passenger was seated opposite to him, I could see his legs.

He asked me for directions to a place, which parallel to the lane I lived on. That was the first sign. This is when I started to take in everything about the van and how the driver wasn't even idling his engine. He kept revving it for some reason, which I assumed was to keep the battered vehicle alive.

I pointed the man in the direction he was supposed to take. The second sign, was that he wouldn't get out of the car completely, willing an unsuspecting child or teenager to inch closer to him to look at the 'address' he was looking for.

When I noticed how dingy and dark the interiors of the car was, I immediately looked the guy straight in the eye and a very deep rage began to boil inside of me. I know this now, because I was confused by the amount of adrenaline that was suddenly coursing through my veins.

I tentatively took a small step back and kept staring at the man. He didn't notice and then proceeded to ask if I would step into the van to show them the way. Dead give away. I firmly said no and took a bigger step back and instinctively looked over to the balcony and pretended that someone was there and waved.

Before I knew it, the van door slammed shut and the van disappeared out of sight in the exact opposite direction of where it was 'supposed' to have gone. I breathed hard for exactly 2 minutes as I literally strode to the gate. By the time I was upstairs, my mother was too busy screaming orders for chores to even notice my story, which she heard in bits between the piercing whistle of the pressure cooker and the shrill sizzle from the pan.

I remember playing the incident back in my head for exactly 2 minutes again, before my teenage angst kicked in and I was busy defending my 'independence and individuality' that was brought up for questioning with said requests for household responsibility.

With all that behind me now; the sheer force of fortuitousness hit me smack in the face.

Wow. What a rush, knowing that sometimes, when you least expect it, the force remains strong with you. And for that I am eternally thankful.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

As I walk to and from my place of intern-ship, I see different kinds of people. We all do. See each other.

I have been noticed as an anomaly in my building. I am a curious thing to the Gujju wives, who sit on the stairs to catch the cool air that spirals upwards, but never enters their homes for some strange and infuriating reason.

My hair cut in a side-swipe mullet, a swirl that would make Justin Beiber blanch with envy; my penchant for pants and my silent demeanour, all combine to make me a perfect reason to loathe with awe. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pandering to myself. I've done enough of that, with disastrous results for the egos around me. ha ha!

It is this initial reaction to my person, that switched on my observation radar and it has been on auto-pilot since.

So back to my walks.

Today, I watched an old man slowly walk his route around the gated 'society' that he lives in. I overtook him in a few strides, but not before noticing that his thin cotton kurta, worn to battle the heat was soaked to the threads. It stuck to his enormous canvas of a back like wet mache.

His dhoti billowed around him, like he was sitting on a cloud that moved at the pace of snail. His walking stick, an oar.

I realised that he could do nothing about his situation, except to keep walking, until he reached his gate. As I passed him, he looked over at me. A moving pan shot, was my view. What he saw, a passing comet.

His eyes said most of what he wanted to; his eventual avoidance of my returning gaze was the end of the brief exchange.

"I used to walk faster than you; you should know that. I wasn't so big, I had a defining frame. Does it feel good to walk fast? It must, I know it made me feel powerful. We all slow down after awhile, some more than the rest. I am part of the more, the excess. I know that, you don't have to tell me. Go on, there's nothing left to see. Nothing."

For a moment, I wondered what it would be like. Old, without the distractions of our created environments. It would be such deafening silence. The mind would then start to speak again, and all that wisdom we wanted then, would come spilling out now. And we would try and impart it, desperately and as a result look desperate. Trying to claw meaning back with this knowledge. But will it come?

We would be looking at the noise from the outside in. Sadness of knowing would no doubt become our responsibility. Who else would want it? And then in that knowledge, we wait for our next journey out of the inside, out of the outside. To the infinite.

"Then my love, I will be the light; faster, brighter and stronger. I will be the comet."