Sunday, December 19, 2004
In a manifestation of my supreme ability to adapt, I have merged with Bombay. I do not crave Delhi any more. There, I said it. The words are out of my mouth. Just shoot me.
What did the trick for me? I'm damned if I know, and I'm damned if I don't. It can be anything, anything, anything or anybody at all. The fact that I can walk down roads again linking fingers, or whisper sweet soft words that mean absolutely nothing at all into receptive ears. The fact that I can sit at my seat in the bus, and look out the window, and somehow, somehow, somehow find a one hour journey terribly engaging. Mills and offices, bungalows and courtyards, colonial hang-over and new-age frightfulness, all jumbing around, jostling for space, irked by humanity, and yet, somehow revelling in it, all the same. A disclaimer is due here: I still find the seething masses irritating. I still need my space, I still need to be in a situation of relative desertion - and somehow, somehow, somehow, I have found my little nooks and crannies, here in this megapolis.
There is something terribly attractive about living on an island city. I get to project flights of fantasy, as I cross one linkway after another, over hills and dales, miniature lagoons and ponds of salty water. Something terribly exciting about whizzing past an expanse of deep blue ocean, however foul the fish smell is, that wafts up from everywhere around you. When the fisherwoman clambers up in the bus, with a basket of newly arrived bounty, I crinkle my nose in mild distaste, but curiously arch my neck to see what fish she has. I argue with my Marathi maid, in my typcially horrendous Hindi, and end up smattering my arguments with words from English, so that neither she nor I understand. I call her my mausi, and while she refuses to work every week for the salary I pay her, she always turns up the next day, and I hand her down old newspapers, old bottles, old packets.
They told me, of course, that this would happen. That I would become hooked to the city, within six months. But look - today, I counted, and it has been only three so far. And yet, I have this strange desire to be nowhere else. I have this strange question mark in my head, that keeps on asking what I would go back to Delhi for, now. Love's labour has been lost, but friendship still remains, it is true - and yet... and yet... there are so many of those 'yet's that never help me find an answer. I'm here, now, and I'm here with you, a voice tells me from within, another voice tells me from without. I clench those fingers that offer themselves to me, and I pray and hope and I murmur that this time, it may just work. Fingers crossed, not so tight that knuckles turn white - a strange song plays on in my head - let it be, let it be, let it be - take each step as it comes - let it be, let it be and yet, isn't that the mantra of this great big polluted, overcrowded, insomniac city that keeps on pulling and pushing in so many divergent directions...?
This is my here, and this is my now. I do not crib, I do not whine. I adapt. I morph. I blend. I stand out. I scream for more. I pander. I beg. I steal. I win. I deserve. More. Much much more. I get. I live.
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