Thursday, July 27, 2017

As I rode past the murky waters

As I rode past the murky
waters of the old Bagjola canal, I saw
a thousand and one men busy with 
their daily chores- oblivious of my 
decade and a half old rusty bicycle; 
I had  repaired it a month or so ago, 
rebranded it, so that I could
cycle all the way to my swimming
pool, and if I begin to explain why
a cycle is my easiest commute now, 
you may begin to wonder if I am
speaking of the same city where
you and I both live, but you see 
there are so many little cities within
our own city that we would never see,
little neighbourhoods so, different from
one-another, little and big names, with
its own esoteric history and politics, that it 
will certainly boggle our mind,
and these days, if I may disclose that
I follow Google Maps religiously, coupled 
with my own anthropometric sense of 
where I am, each and every moment; I always see
a map with the North upwards, like it's 
supposed to be done, and I am wary
of what one JNU professor tried to warn
us regarding political Maps and their
nationalistic symbolisms, but I am so far from
New Delhi and the surrounding jingoisms and 
it's thesis and counter thesis, I am so far
away from all these noises that will eventually
control my life that I sometimes feel sad and 
refuse to stand to the national anthem when no
ones watching, but I  am hoping you will keep 
that a secret,  and since I have digressed from whatever
I wanted to tell you without further ado, I must
get back onto that topic of where I live, and where
I live is one of the densest places in Planet Earth,
you know, the densest in the already dense 
Gangetic Delta, and I wanted to write this on one
sad day, 'people people everywhere, not anyone to love'
and in this part of Calcutta,  there are two canals 
 that flows parallel and they all go and 
join another canal, and this one 
I know flows by where you live -
(since I am good with Maps and all)
so I was thinking of making a boat so that 
I could just sail to you, and you must think I was 
kidding when I told you that I cycle 
almost eight kilometres everyday because 
it seems the best option, but I was being honest, 
 I wouldn't make that boat though till I am the Mayor 
of Calcutta, the waters you know they need a lot of  
cleaning, and I know you wouldn't mind me visiting 
you in the far South in a boat, jokes apart, you would 
prefer the Taxi, or the bus; about cycling 
I must add that there are no short motor-able roads 
from my place to the place where I go for a swim, 
the canals act as barriers and protects the 
rich neighbourhood on the other side from the crass
-cacophony of subaltern narratives; tough words
I know, but that's why I take the cycle, its easy
carrying it over the footbridges that connects ( and saves time), 
 the daily labourers, some small tea-shop owners, fish wallah,
 balti wallah, dil wallah and a list of  other working class men, 
keeps me for company and often guides me through 
the empty boulevards and blocks, and sometimes a kid or two 
would want to race with me and I would 
pretend to be Lance Armstrong-and as night falls 
and these people who work  here leave, and everything 
becomes quiet again, the old residents 
often feel a oeuvre of melancholy,
and let their phones and computers 
call up their sons and daughters abroad,
who would be busy in their American lives, 
suffering the same loneliness that their parents
suffer back home, and if you ever come around here
I won't take you to a coffee shop or the next
best mall in the city, I will just make you walk
miles and show you the roads where I grew
up, the roads where I used to walk my dog
once upon a time, miles and miles of roads,
that I have walked with old loves not lovers,
the roads of my old neighbourhood, still
so deserted, still so empty, as if all the 
walking couldn't cure them of their loneliness, 
and I will take you to that other canal that
 may lead you  back to your home- and if 
you wish, we could dream of a boat the
one I will built someday and we could 
laugh over it, but darling wear good shoes
because this one here will make 
you walk - a mile or two.

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