A circular road breaks off the daily race of human conventions and floats against the stereotypes of the century. A narrow path diverges from the daily hankering for fuel and defiled breaths of thousand people lurking in daylight. On its right, the kitchens of mediocre momo joints dole out the waste of last ten decades, liquidating the lungs of the city every afternoon. On the left, the air-conditioned restaurants bear the fancy lads with fancy wallets full of fancy wads of money. Two sides of a road; two conflicting worlds dangling by a thread. And a man, balancing on it. Two opposite poles changing their day-to-day gaits before the closed eyes of another man. He’s the third side of the road; the one-fourth of a story. A madman, drowning in the anaemic sweat of the streets. Dirty underpants, dirty beard and dirty nails, ‘dirty’ being the absurd peculiarity. Does he keep track of time? Years, months, days, split seconds? Does he know that he could’ve stepped onto his fifty-ninth birthday one freakish midnight, maybe? Or, a day before that?
‘HELP ME’, he always writes on the floor of mud. The exact same words in three languages using three different colours. Then he draws a picture of an Indian deity. He keeps his coloured chalks in a plastic packet, hidden from the eyes of the spectators; and hawks. The white chalk touches the face and the long neck, pink forms the countenance of breasts along with the plump belly and blue shades the rest of Her existence. Only God knows whether She bears so many shades and colours!
At the opposite an abandoned house struggles in keeping its broken spine straight. Red bricks and unsynchronized symphonies. Holes and voids flash out like an old lady’s missing tooth. Another assortment of dry memories. Dead trees keep on brushing against the yellow frames of pleasure. Thousand years of secrets are wallowing in the dust of nostalgia. Secrets and grime are the inseparable twins. Rust is the biggest sell at the auction.
As I was walking down the street, I was trying to connect the dots, if there is one. Maybe there isn’t. Not all the dots are always connected. A spooky house and a broke artist. Elements for a second-class horror novel. Or maybe, a tear-squishing heart-wrenching napkin-soaking story of abject poverty. Each story stands out disdaining one another’s weight. But I’ve got to glue them together. A mild connection is all I’m asking for. Maybe the beggar was thrown out of this very house fifty years ago and he just couldn’t leave. Now he’s carrying the load of history on his clenched jaws. Or, maybe the real connection is getting erased in the rush of yet another sunset, just like his memory.
The truth is we’re all pursuing the art of chasing some random story. Some with binoculars, some with bare canvases, some with morbid eyes, others with decolourised imagination. Some stories are forming out of thin air and disappearing at one swipe of the aura of scheduled monsoon. Some are happening right before your eyes when your subconscious mind is playing another story on the hard disc of your brain. A calendar holds a million enigmatic stories on each date.
Million stories. Only a few story-sellers.