They’re like insects here. The people. They dwell in every nook and cranny of the city. While some live in majestic bungalows and villas facing the sea, most of them live in one-roomed, cubicle like flats. Their buildings look like beehives. Each window reflecting different stories behind it in their 10” by 10” rooms. Some of them who do not have a permanent roof over their heads settle down anywhere they can. Beneath flyovers, beside railway tracks, on the footpaths, on open fields under tin roofs. When it rains they crawl out of their humble homes, and wait till they can fix them again. They scurry around everywhere, on railway stations, on the roads, in the trains. They are always walking. It looks like an ant colony. People walking so fast the world seems like a blur to them. They bump into each other, but they don’t have time to look back. They stand in queues. So many queues. Long human chains waiting for the bus, for the tickets, for taxis and auto rickshaws.
They spend half their day stuck in traffic jams. The continuous, ceaseless, mind-numbingly infuriating traffic jams. While you are praying for the bottle-necked roads to clear up, you listen to some music, but then you are surrounded by children. Oh, the children. They sell flowers, they sell balloons. They sell children’s books which they can’t read themselves. They sell bangles which they cannot dream of wearing on their tiny, dirty wrists.
Walking on the railway platform sprawling, overflowing with people, you can’t help but wonder what everyone else is thinking. Their faces flash past you in under a second, but you imagine what their life must be like. That man, running with a briefcase, wiping the sweat off his face. Is he late for a meeting? Is his boss going to give him a hard time for being late? Or that old woman, barely able to walk at a regular pace, where is her family? Is she waiting to meet them? Is she alone? Sometimes you see a lanky young boy, wearing his bright orange earphones dancing while enjoying his music, dangling by the door of the train. People grabbing vada pavs and samosas on the go. Eating while running, eating while talking on the phone. Sometimes you see young people walking holding hands, completely immersed in each other. Their fingers are intertwined with each others, their eyes twinkling with love.
So many people. So many stories. It’s a never-ending sea of people going about their everyday lives. I cannot help but think of something Kafka says in Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. He says that all these people he sees walking past him, a hundred years later they would not even exist. They would be gone. Gone from the face of the earth. Including him. And me and you and all of us. The future generations will have different stories, different experiences. Wonder what life would be like then. How much of it would have changed? One of my friends yesterday in one of his ‘mellow’ moods said “we are lost in a mist of time. Stumbling and groping around in the dark. Then we suddenly hit a dead end and we look back and realize that the mist was all there was and the journey was the only purpose. The journey that led to a blind alley. In the end, I think, life is a purposeless journey undertaken by a blind man in the dark. We continue to live it for no other reason other than that it’s there. Even though we know exactly what lies in the end.”
Does it make sense? To me it kind of did. I should get some sleep now. Tomorrow is another day.
P.S. Today’s date is 11.12.13 :)