I’m a loquacious person by nature. My mouth rarely takes a holiday. But I often fall into the arms of silence when I travel or commute.
Silent, because I’m quieted by that which meets my eyes.
The smile on the face of the child that fell asleep in its mother’s arms.
The couple walking hand in hand in the cold winter night.
The two friends laughing over coffee in the café.
The family of five on a single bike.
The young kid crying for the biggest balloon.
The smell of freshly fried samosas.
Children playing hopscotch in one lane and galli cricket in the other.
The man on the cycle selling cotton candy and kulfi.
Cows and buffaloes crossing the road slowly, very slowly.
Hymns from the temples.
People eating Golgappas.
The crowd that had formed outside the T.V store to watch the cricket match for free.
Rangoli outside houses.
Men pissing on the street. (In my country,kissing on the road is punishable but pissing on the road is allowed!)
Street side salons.
And then, as I stop at the red light, the march of the destitute begin.
The old lady bent double with age.
The man with the crutches.
The little boy with charred hands.
The little girl, selling flowers cheaper than ever.
The old man who says he hadn’t eaten anything since three days.
The light goes green and I move on.
The world changes.
The dark truth meets the eyes. The smile slowly fades.
People sleeping on the pavements, in the cold night. They sleep there season after season, never properly covered.
I wonder how many of them had slept without food.
The drunkard walking home. What problems might he have?
The children making street corners their beds. Would they ever know the comfort of a bed?
The woman scouting the garbage bin for something that she could use. What would she give her children in breakfast?
The old man parking his vegetable wagon at the corner of the road. Did he earn enough to feed his family?
The little huts, which had plastic sheets for roofing. What do those people do during cold nights?
The leper still begging on the street. Did his family abandon him because of the disease?
The young boy, was he a runaway?
The single tear that ran out was not of sympathy or of pain. It was in gratitude.
Gratitude for everything I have been blessed with.
Isn’t it a blessing? Properly functioning body parts, a presentable face, no fatal disease, three times food, a house to live in and clothes to wear.
If this doesn’t make you feel blessed, and you do not feel a responsibility for the less blessed ones, then, somewhere in you humanity has died.
A book and a cup of tea. Isn’t that a delectable combination? A book and a cup of tea, or coffee, or hot chocolate …On a sunny day or a sulky one, a windy day or a wintry one, a book never says goodbye.
It’s raining today and I am ensconced in that warm chair-swing in the balcony. I watch the sky celebrate, extend my hand and feel it on my palm and smile as a few raindrops caress my face.Opening my eyes, I watch the steam from the cup of tea, rising with eagerness, forming shapes, trying to reach for the sky but then slowly it gives up and accepts its fate.
Finally, as if following a sacred ritual, I turn my attention towards the book in my lap and run a hand over the cover. It wasn’t a new book. Rather, a very old one. Borrowed from the British Library.
Turning the book over in my hands I wondered how many people must have handled it. To the unseeing eye, it was only an old, tattered book, unworthy of any praise. But a lover would know its worth. I wondered how many stories it held, apart from the printed one.
How many moments it treasured?
I loved reading for all those well known reasons- for visiting unknown places, for the new eyes, new adventures, new friends, the knowledge, the wisdom. I loved the musty smell, the sound of a flipping a page, the feel of a book in your hands. I love it all!
But I love reading a borrowed book most. I love reading the tales hidden in them. Faded covers curling at the edges, browned papers. Finding a dried petal or flower in between the page reminds you of some stranger-friend. Words scribbled on the edges and careless doodling. Favorite passages marked and dog eared pages!
A stain here and a stain there, telling stories within a story. Chocolate marks, candy wrappers, names of lovers scribbled in tiny hearts drawn at the corner of a page. How many stories could a book tell? And how many could you read?
And then as my gaze wander, so do my thoughts. I look up at the clouds and start giving wings to their shapes. Then, I wonder about you.
Do you love the rain as much as I do? Do you too like saunte
ring empty roads? Does the sunset leaves you awed too, every single time? Do you love making castles in the sand? Do you enjoy talking to the birds? Do you find humor where most people don’t? Are you as crazy as I am? Do you too hate the world at times? And then learn to love it again? Do you like to eavesdrop on the wind whispering to the trees or pen speaking to the paper? Do you sit alone and relive memories? Do you get goose-flesh when you see the rainbow? Do you ever feel lonely in the crowd? Can you too sea the fire in the sea? Do you feel the evening breeze caress your hand? Does spending time with people below seven and above seventy mean anything to you? Do you look at the stars and wonder…?
Poetry? Long walks in the rain? Dancing? Calvin and Hobbes? Kishore Kumar? Clapton? Dcfc? Star wars? Beaches? F.R.I.E.N.D.S.? Duck tales? Fox’s wedding?
The rain has stopped and the scent of earth pulls me out of my thoughts. Petrichor! Sighing deeply, I look at my book and smile. It had waited patiently for my return. My companion amidst lonely crowd.
So would you still ask me why I find in it my solace?