It is 7:30 a.m. Early morning by any standards except, for the way he was brought up; when 7:30 was already late in the day. Oh yes, I am talking about am not pm! But, more on that, a little later. Moving onto now, at this hour, when he is into his daily scampering routine while carefully negotiating the sidewalk potholes on one side and, a maddening traffic on the other, he wonders aloud, 'all this for what?' To catch a creaky, noisy aluminium shell that everyone calls a bus. Mind you, this is not the voice of gods speaking to him from heaven above. His questions are never meant to elicit a reply. He has long accepted to not being taken seriously at all and, at times, he too feels like the cold steel rail in this aluminium box. Standing still, just like life that refuses to move. He looks at the form infront and gazes with a strange fondness. To him, it is straight out of the Seventies and the Eighties- decades reminiscent of the license raj, Hindu growth rate and of Amitabh Bachhan. Even he has now re branded himself as the BIG B- sign of changing times, eh? where a 15 letter name is as anachronistic as these rickety boxes plying on the roads with 'BEST' inscribed in bold onto them. Displayed prominently on either sides, sometimes, jostling with pictures and posters of characters from the latest soap and/or a new Friday release, seem to have more life in them than in a normal Mumbaikar. A blast from the past, is it? Naah, it is the present reality.
The other option? well, the ubiquitous locals famed for being the lifeline of the city. So what, if they are teeming with people like a jug of milk filled to its brim, which cannot take even a single extra drop without overflowing, save for water of course. But unlike the unaccommodating lousy jug, these poor trains have a much larger heart. Black or white, rich or poor, male or female and of all the contradictions, she is willing to take them all. Creatures of all hues and appearances are most welcome in her already overflowing heart sans any discrimination. Care for everyone she does but, she cannot show it for her own poor state. Of course, this care does not come free. State charges a minimal sum for it and bestows upon its own people- the common man, the aam aadmi- as they have been named in keeping with the customs of these days, its largesse. Often claiming the ownership of something which rightfully was never conferred upon it , in the first place. But, custodians metamorphosing into owners is a phenomenon not restricted to the current generation of the guardians of the constitution. Neither their tribe is restricted to the present time or only to this country. It is only the unabashed brazenness that has its parallels in the most corrupt of the regimes and yet, we call ourselves the modern country on a fastrack growth highway and a heir apparent to the decadent developed economies of the first world countries. Long live the dream. The claims and the self-pats on our backs sound more hollow than the large, yet already hollowed heart of this motherly form with a serpentine appearance that chugs along throughout the day and for most of the night without even seeking a morsel of gratitude.
And to think of it, Its only 7:35 am yet.
to be continued..
to be continued..