November 12, 2008

Pavement Revelations

The vehicular cacophony from the road was music to his ears. The rumbling sound from his tummy was the perfect percussion. Sitting on the pavement he wrote.

The words started to flow as he paused to let the moment sink in. The sky was blue and clear like a young lady’s eyes, the air smelling of crispy somosas and cheap cigarette. Putting the scribbling pad on his thigh and biting the tip of the pencil he was holding so dearly, he was watching the sights and sounds around him.

A eunuch with flashy bangles and marigold on her hair swayed her way towards him. She placed a hand on his head and blessed him or at least he wished she had. On the contrary she now stood next to him demanding money. He didn’t want to give her any and continued his distant stare into nothingness ignoring the presence of a rather dusky, brightly draped eunuch in a saree that was riding high unto her ankles. This continued for a while and the agitated woman then cursed him under her breath and walked away showing him and the few people who had gathered around an ample view of her flat chest and hairy arms.

As the evening sun slowly began setting behind the tall buildings, he could see the moon playing hide and seek with the clouds. He stopped everything that he was doing and continued to gaze at the beauty of the white ball that was playing tricks with him. A smiled escaped the corner of his mouth.

The scribbling pad now had a lot of doodles. Of little boys in sweaters, of mothers holding the hands of their little ones and walking on a street, of dogs lying under push carts selling tender coconuts, of the eunuch smiling and posing like a model.

“All that a man has to say or do that can
possibly concern mankind is in some shape
or other to tell the story of his love-
and to sing; and if he is fortunate and
keeps alive, he will be forever in love.”

He remembered Thoreau’s words that he had read in a book recently. They made so much sense, he thought to himself. Or maybe they always made sense but it was only now that he had the clarity that he could understand the essence and the meaning of those lines.

A kid with bright wide eyes came closer to him and was amazed looking at the doodles on his pad. He stood there mesmerized with a smile and pointed at one of the doodles & said something like, “Dog. Alsatian?” Was that a question that he was asking or a discovery that he just did? He wondered what it would have been, but smiled at the kid and showed a couple of tricks he had learnt from his father. It was simple, the tricks. How to make a police officer from a tea cup and how to draw a person’s face with all the numbers from 0 to 9. He was amazed looking at how his father could make something so real with such ease. And he felt the same effect and joy on the kid as it was his when he was small.

He folded the pad and placed it back into the bag he was carrying. He lit a smoke. He walked away from the pavement as he saw an elderly couple walking towards him. He always felt that smoking in the presence of elders was in some way being disrespectful and he didn’t want to do anything to annoy them or spoil their evening walk. As he walked through narrow lanes, he could see the neon lights beginning to light up the streets and the shops. There was a lot of activity on the street. He saw a bright light coming from one of the shops that sold antiques. He loved that shop. He could get some of the most amazing things from there and his house was in fact full of little things that he had bought from this shop.

The shopkeeper was a friend and he waved a friendly hello and continued to explain the working of an old grandfather clock to an eager customer. He knew his way around the shop and hence didn’t bother waiting for a sales person to direct him. He went to the corner of the room, where he knew was a drop down ladder that took him to the attic where a lot of antiques were dumped, stored not dumped according to the owner. He moved to the dimly lit attic and his nostrils were immediately filled with the smell of old rugs, dust filled books and lamps and rodent pee. He smiled to himself remembering his conversation once with the owner about cleaning up the attic and him moving in to that place filled with absolute treasures. He saw an old book dumped alongside kashmiri shawls and half-broken temple idols and some old furniture. He lifted the book and dusted the cover. The dust from the book moved up like mist with the moonlight coming into the room from a broken down window pane.

“The works of Thoreau”, it said in big bold typography.

On a sudden he knew what was going to keep him occupied.


netra said...

Hey the word is woooooooowwwwwwwwww!!!!,
Loved the way you wrote this, i could feel everything written, it was like almost living in that moment........

Zeph Keyes said...

cpla things:
1. u may wanna re-read the last bit.. esp the last line... (sorry for the editin, but i really think u need to here)
2. Can you really make a policeman out of a tea cup? better still, can u turn a policeman into a teacup? think I'd prefer that...
and 3.. White ball.. again.. white... u been staring at too many ppl in white coats lately? or are those the bandages talking? Speakin of which, was expecting somethin on that grand meeting you has with the asphalt and tar.... yep, i'm back

arvindiyer said...

To Netra...
Thank you. Glad you liked the imagery. Nice to see you here in this world.

arvindiyer said...

To Zeph Keyes...
Cpla things? (that's 2 and not 3)

1. There is nothing wrong with the last line and I don't think there is any editing needed on that. Its a different style and if you have read Pico Iyer.. you might know what am talking about.

2. I can make a policeman out of a teacup... and to make a teacup into a policeman would be a waste of a teacup.:)

3. White ball? Where did you get that from? And no.. its not the bandage talking and no am not staring at too many white coats either.

There is nothing major to write bout the grand meeting actually. And welcome back.

Zeph Keyes said...

"2. I can make a policeman out of a teacup... and to make a teacup into a policeman would be a waste of a teacup.:)"
who sed anything about makin a teacup into a policeman? i wanted to turn policeman into a teacup.. so put him to good use finally... u confusing urself now lol...

and as to 1. yes, I've read pico iyer, just that "on a sudden" sounded like u missed a word while typing.. u know i mean no offence :D

arvindiyer said...

To Zeph Keyes...

Its the painkillers I tell you:) And well yes I do know you mean no offence and On a sudden was intentional:)