It was almost like the sepia filter was turned on, On the old forgotten roads. Not a soul to be seen on the muddy streets. He rode a bicycle and sang songs from the 80s. He hurried home, Saw his little daughter waiting for him at the porch. They went inside hand-in-hand, And found awaiting – A bowl of hot rice Steaming hot sambar & crunchy papadam That made his belly rumble and grumble with joy. He sat down immediately to eat, From the kitchen came his wife shouting, “Wash your hands before you eat!” All of a sudden, he woke up from his sleep. Found beside him a white lady in green. He wondered to himself, “Which one of this is a dream?”
Every day I walk on this street, hurriedly, trying not to attract too much attention while also silently observing the variety of events that happen on it every single day.
A woman washes clothes on a stone slab outside the door. A man wearing a checkered lungi stands on the terrace brushing his teeth. A tiny naked girl with uncombed hair is crying near her mother while the mother inattentively washes dishes. A man is sitting on the bike with his friend standing beside him, smoking a cigarette while staring at people/women/me making us uncomfortable. A small tailor’s shop has a bright yellow public phone booth. The shop is empty most of the time but there is always someone on the telephone. I wonder if the tailor listens to everybody’s conversations.
There are many small cement and brick houses on this lane which are painted in awkward bright colors – mint green, psychedelic purple, electric blue, some are not painted at all, and some houses are so old that the paint has faded and chipped off years ago.
In the midst of these fractured buildings, a tall apartment with a massive gate is randomly positioned breaking the entire rhythm. A little ahead is an open ground which is used by buses and truck drivers for parking but during the day it is usually empty.
A temple around the corner fills the street with the smell of marigold flowers and incense sticks. As I get closer, I hear the sound of bells and prayer chants.
I take a right, reach the main road, and disappear in the crowd of a busy street.
There is hardly anything new left for me to see outside my window. The trees stand calmly as always, clustered together. Sometimes still, sometimes swaying with the wind.
The lawn is green and beautiful. Now and then, I see people on it who bring their dogs out for a walk. The streets are empty, mostly parked cars. There is just a driveway in my community. My community is wonderful but it is also very quiet and can sometimes be boring.
Earlier, I used to get excited looking at the different varieties of birds outside my window. I still do, but they haven’t become my friends yet! Like I said, life here is calm and quiet. Just what I had always dreamed of.. but do we really know what we want?
Today, I had an urge to peep into the houses of my neighbours. Just for a change, to see what other people are up to.. What are they cooking? What are they wearing? Which show is running on their TV? Did I just hear someone arguing? Are the children up to some mischief?
These silly things which I took for granted and found annoying back in India are the things that I often miss. I look outside my window and find trees clustered together. Back home, my family, friends, and neighbours were the clustered trees. Together. Now I wonder, what I am doing here away from my tribe? Where is my cluster?