Tracking Times

Train journeys always do that. The smell of rust n iron carried along with those of memories fresh from the heart. May be it was the isolation, or maybe the wind, or perhaps just the anticipation. She could never tell. She sat by the window, her fingers working fast on that knitting needle and woolen bundles. Her hands worked like magic, without even her looking at the half knit sweater. She stared on, in oblivion. Those tracks that stretched into infinity, reminded her of times a decade ago.
Life was very simple back then’ she heard her mind echo. A little unusual as it was, she sat aloof that afternoon spending all her hours looking just at those tracks that seemed to have some haunting story to reveal to her. She was listening detachedly to the conversations in her coupe. In between the regular whining of the 2 yr old, she managed to gather some news on a Geetha’s first marriage and a Swathi’s knowledge on palmistry n psychic powers. But her mind wandered back to those tracks and she stared on..
* * * * *
Tall healthy coconut trees, overlooking a thatched roof and red bricked cottage houses filled with the aroma of piping hot tea n buttered popcorn came alive. She saw Shruthi wearing her pretty pink frock with the white lace, looking like an angel but with dark chocolate smudged around her lips. Shruthi took tiny little steps, careful enough not to wet her shoes in those puddles from yesterday’s rain. There were guests, chocolates, fountains, cars and cake - with 10 candles. Loud music did its duty, it was their favorite song. Yeah, music does that too, the smell of just blown candles, vanilla essence and memories fresh from the heart. She leaned forward to blow those 10 huge candles, with her mom by her side holding back her loose hair. Shruthi, made a perfect ‘o’ with her mouth n took in a huge amount of air jus enough to blow most of them off, but she paused. Squinting her eyes, she drove her gaze through the crowd straining to spot her best friend. ‘He is definitely there! ‘, she assured her self and as she looked on – ‘he must be hiding’, she thought.
She was locked in her awkward 7 like position for longer than she had estimated. Nudges from her mom, and loud whispers became a little more than ignorable. And so she blew the candles, wishing strongly for him to appear in front of her. The flames danced, refusing to listen to Shruthi. She blew harder, n they danced more gorily than before. She saw nothing but the flames. Orange and yellow, and they grew in size. The black wick metamorphosed into a figure, a familiar figure. Her eyeballs enlarged, pupils dilated and they dictated fear. The music muted itself, n she heard nothing but her own screams for help. There was panic all over and just enough threshold energy. She pulled herself away from her mother n turned sharply the other way n came eye to eye with Shruthi, 10 years later.
* * * * *
A loud gasp, faint noises of an approaching train, sharper sounds of a crying child and then the voice of her heart – ‘Its all over Shruthi. Calm down. Its ok. He died several years ago” . She had calmed down, but only temporarily. The tracks and the travel had brought back the old times. Times - 10 years old. May be that was what time was meant to teach. Maybe that was what the tracks yearned to tell. Maybe that was what her heart was longed for – the old times.

The Elves n the Shoemaker

It was a long time ago, in the city of angels that this soul found peace and rested one night without having to worry about the next day’s meal. It was a long time ago, that in the city of angels, time stood still as if all was planned by God to show the sinned mortals of the existence of goodness in the world. It was a long time ago, that this small story happened in the streets of Richmond, Bangalore.

* * * * *

The bus 138, screeched on its brakes to a halt. It seemed like the bus was crying out in pain, due to the overburdening weight of the morning passengers who held on to anything that they could get their hands on. In between women who squeezed their way into the front and men who struggled to get out of the rear, was Amitha. With an unknown language and strangers for company; unsure of where to get off, her mind was paralyzed with thoughts that took momentary control.

It was a common sight to see. Men and women straining their necks in awkward heights to see if it was time to start wriggling their way through the bus. What was more common was the sight of them reminding the conductors of the change they are due to get. Amitha, however thought it to be too tedious a process to pass the ticket along and wait for her change.

And so she got off the bus, cursing herself for waking up late. And more so for leaving the govt of Karnataka with 3 rupees more than what it should own. She was pre occupied. She was late. Her hair was messed up anyway. Pleasant things didn’t remind themselves in her paralyzed mind. She continued to walk the streets of Richmond, completely unaware of other pre occupied minds.

* * * * *

The bus 138, screeched on its brakes to a halt. It seemed like the bus was yelling out in happiness about reaching 30 seconds too early than yesterday. It was like it set a new record during the most busy morning hour. In between women who tried to keep their make up intact, n men who held their grip firmly on the bus bars, was Atul. Familiar roads, familiar foot board, n familiar faces kept his zest alive. Completely at peace with a typical morning he got off the bus n waited for it to cross.

* * * *

Alongside the pavement, was Sukumar - a soul that had never once looked at the sky. He possessed a rug, a cloth, some polish and a basin. For years he had watched the legs walk past. In the years that followed, he had watched those feet grow. For many days he had felt those shoes; polished them n longed for them. But God had his reasons right, his drama planned and so he sat, longing for long. And then came the day, when he was too old to continue the routine. The day still dawned, n those legs still walked past. But his hands were faint, withered n too weak to hold its own weight. He sat there, with just his rug and his basin. People walked by Sukumar, busy with their own business. Cars zoomed past, with men nonchalantly throwing out crushed cartons or used tissues.

Atul stopped suddenly. He sat down perched on his heel, his hands busy digging into his wallet. He reached out to a hundred rupee note, handed it to Sukumar Thaathaa ; stroked him on his back, spent a few minutes; shared some good humour n as he got up to leave, he yelled out jus so Sukumar heard him right "First month salary Thaathaa....! That’s where it came from ".

Atul was walking just a few steps ahead of Amitha. She hadn’t noticed him, or him or HIM. Until then….

Sense and Sensibility

And the day dawned, with Seema screaming from the toilet, ‘Mira, switch on the darned inverter. I cannot see a thing ‘. And Mira did as she was told, as she was told every morning at around 7, when with strict regularity the power used to fail.

* * * * * *
Mornings at Bangalore were lazy uniformly. Even the sun used to peep out of the dark grey blankets only well after 6. Having just managed her morning routines, Seema settled for a cold shower. Stepping out, she was already late and screaming at Mira for not giving her a warning alarm about the time. She slipped into her stunning blue salwar, hurriedly brushed her hair back, grabbed her handbag, her ID card ran a quick check on the mirror n locked the room behind her – all the while giving Mira instructions for the night’s menu.

Seema, was already 2 streets away from home. She was just crossing the main road, with the cell phone stuck between her shoulder and her neck. She was cursing herself as she was hearing the citi bank welcome prompt thanking her for her patience. Suddenly she remembered, she hadn’t locked the door. She had left behind a key. She rushed back to the front door that she had left ajar. She stopped. She saw. She thanked god.

* * * * * *

Mira had just counted her steps to the hallway and made a sharp right turn. Seema saw her walk 2 steps forward, n then turn left. She felt the wall and grabbed the key and secured herself inside the four walls of the house that she had never seen.

"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence" - Ansel Adams

In this space you will find images and words. It is upto you to weave 'em together and see what I see.