Amid the jungle of concrete and two little children fascinated by a shard of glass, Santosh Bakaya’s mind floats back to the memories of hillocks, big and small that made a perfect picture postcard scene just a little away from the boundary wall of her University campus.
Morning Meanderings is a musings column by Dr Santosh Bakaya. Enjoy her jottings with a hot cup of tea. 🙂
Today, I decided to take my customary stroll, just behind our house. Intimidated by the overpowering heat, I dropped the idea of going to the park and as I walked a little further, shrill voices, fatherly exhortations, motherly reprimands, sounds of sibling revelry/rivalry fell into my ears. I watched, incredulous.
Once again, an entire village seemed to have migrated to our burgeoning colony and the villagers were trying to make themselves comfortable in the plot of land, this time behind our house. Soon one more skyscraper would be in the throes of labour, and the untiring labourers would leave no stone unturned in bringing it into the world. So, right now, they were picking up bricks and cement slabs that a monster truck was disgorging and stacking them in a corner of the plot.
Amused by the love-drenched expletives that the families were hurling at each other, I looked around, curiously. How come I had not noticed before? There was a dense concrete jungle growing all around me, gated colonies, ungated ones, triple stories, double stories, luxurious villas and duplex apartments. The half-clad labourers plodded on, perspiring, smiling, cursing, laughing, slogging hard, taking the ups and down in their stride, so that the well-heeled could be comfortable in their luxurious condominiums.
Near a half-built concrete monolith sat a half-clad boy and girl, not more than four years of age, playing with a green little thing, their unwashed faces brightened by colours of pure bliss. I watched indulgently as the sunrays played with their tangled mess of hair and their parents worked high up on the scaffolding, every now and then casting solicitous looks in the direction of the tiny tots.
Some thoughts created a ruckus in my mind, when suddenly the sunrays fell on the green thing, making it break into tiny stars.
Losing not a moment, I pounced on the green thing, which happened to be a shard of glass. Caught unawares, and feeling absolutely defrauded, the kids burst into loud sobs, glaring ominously at me – the spoil-sport, while the parents looked down from the scaffolding, alarmed.
I picked up the piece of glass, waving it in their direction.
“Kaanch ka tukra hai yeh,” I shouted. (It’s a shard of glass)
The mother came trundling down in absolute panic. The little girl bawled away, pointing an accusatory finger in my direction, while the boy clung to his mother’s ghagra. She took the shard from my hand, and threw it away, scooping the girl in her arms, all the time smiling gratefully in my direction. A lullaby floated in the air, as she put the girl in an improvised hammock under the shade of a laburnum tree, and took the boy inside her ramshackle shack to give him something to eat, I guessed. But not before she had thrown a charming smile in my direction.
My perennially restless mind catapulted me back in time to a snug little house in the University campus, in Jaipur, long years back. Just a little away from the boundary wall of the campus, which adjoined our house, hillocks, big and small, made a perfect picture postcard scene. I recalled, my juvenile mind had then believed that they were waves which had been put under a spell by some mischievous wizard.
Now, with the perspective of an adult, I feel that they were metaphors for the ups, downs and the vicissitudes of life.
My mind yanked back to the present, and all around me, there was nothing but concrete monstrosities raising their grotesque heads upwards into the blue beyond, trying to tickle the ears of the clouds, after they had done with whispering secrets into them. Those hillocks, so much a part of my idyllic childhood, now are just specks of memory, bulldozed out of existence.
And concrete reigns.
But these memories still gleam erratically, trying to brighten the crannies of my mind. I often glimpse a pigtailed girl standing on a hillock, flying a kite, sometimes stumbling and tumbling on the hillocks, getting up with a rare verve and breaking into a jig, time and again, while her kid brother runs after her, yelling, “Mujhey bhi dey dey”. (Give it to me too)
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