The cab driver honks the horn as hard as he can. In front of the yellow four-wheeler, a bus stands and takes in passengers as they rush into the already filled to the grill commutation device. In between, two motorcycles also join in, screaming to the edges of their mechanical larynxes. The owners look callous; all they want is to overtake that bus, and lunge ahead before everyone, to the next red light, screech to a halt, and continue the same chore. The cacophony is abysmal.
Everyone is running. Everybody wants to win the race. They have no idea where this race leads them to, yet they run frantically every day. Run to get the best seat, the best marks, the best girl or guy, the best job, the best of everything, till they tumble one day into their very own graves.
Is there a race to reach heaven or hell?
The trains are filled with people who holler on top of their voices while boarding or getting down, pushing and elbowing and showcasing their soccer and rugby skills with each passing station. Some obstinate souls are more battle-hardy than others; they stand near the gates and withstand every blow the oncoming battering ram of people pounds on their body. Some even gleefully collaborate in a game of cards, a corded mobile conversation, or profound wise-talks about female body parts.
Blessed are those people who run lazily on treadmills and parks, for they cannot fathom the competence that this daily roller-coaster ride helps to grow. You run from red eyes of bosses and teachers, of governments and trade-union leaders, of demanding girlfriends and domesticated wives, of blackmailing affair-ladies and scathing goons (dressed innocently as local messiahs). You run thinking college life is better when you’re in school. When you’re in college, you think office life is way cooler – you earn money, you do your own shit. Fast forward to office. You wake up, dress, go to office, come back, sleep, and wake up, dress, go to office, come back, sleep. Like a metronome. You run for results. You run to meet deadlines. You run, run, run.
Why do you run? Where does this stop?
Many years back, I was once sitting on a roadside restaurant, shabby as it was, at way past midnight. It was raining outside. Me and my friend were having some of the loveliest food ever presented to us in homely warmth rather than corporate stiffness. We sat along with truck drivers, coolies, and other people who didn’t mean a lot to the upper echelon of the society. There I saw people stopping by, people pouring their hearts out, people having fun. People who could stop from participating in rat races.
I see a lot of those people around, but they are just not there. In flashy neon lights, and advertisements of fairness creams and slimming oils and potency pills, the simplicity of their demeanor is lost somewhere. All that remains is the track where we run, which they gleefully rejected once. Society remembers the scandalous, the rapists, and the bling-tastic. Simpletons are forgotten like the pages of an almanac.
On the warm evenings when a damp breeze blows from the river, and when the people leave the only green patch in the city to breathe, and when the little stars start to twinkle on the vermillion sky atop the cathedral, and when the resident hawker slowly turns the bulb in the holder to turn it on, my cab passes through the bustling artificiality and the scattered pieces of nature in between, running amongst hordes of other lost souls, running, blinking between the steps.
It’s a mad bokeh called life.