Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mumbai Mumbles :38 hours...

I was happy... eager to get off at the next stop ... and run into the small lane next to the railway track that leads to my house.   

I was carrying some 9000 Rupees of Diwali Bakshish, and new clothes for my maa, bhai, bhabhi and nieces - I can imagine them being so happy!

There would be soon shrieks of my nieces, the quite smile of my bhai, who was paralysed when he was young, and the warm mumble of welcome by bhabhi.  

My maa will caress me with her caloused fingers and say 'kitna din ho gayaa - thu abhi maath jaa'.   Everytime she would repeat the same thing, knowing very well that, I will leave by the next weekend.  

Then I would be offered small cup of tea and be asked to take bath in the water from the baalti in the backyard, and then would be asked to join for dinner.   Thava roti and aalu sabji - the routine menu for my dinner, but it is the best thing in the world for a hungry man, longing to have home-made food.

I tried my hand in repairing motor cycles, assisted my bhapu till he died.   After that there was no one with the skill to run the motor cycle shop, so I was again without work.  One week - I tried assisting in one of the restaurants, but the amount was too measly to feed 5 mouths.  

My bhai would cry every night - his inability to stand up as the man of the family, after my father died, made him cringe with guilt. 

One of my uncles works as a taxi driver in Mumbai. He would tell stories about the 'Mahanagari - the super city'  where people come and have made it big. 

This is the city of stars, lights and money.   Mahalaxmi - the giver of wealth, and Siddhivinayak - the destroyers of all evils,  blessers of the citizens.  

I took the train to this city- made of huts and tall buildings side by side, about 4 years ago.   I went to my uncle's house, who stays in Damu nagar basti.  He got me connected with the local friends, who do almost everything  - ek aur dho numbari for a living.  

My uncle warned - be honest and don't cheat.   Do what you can.   I found a group- who lives of the tall buildings.  They would do anything - electrical work, plumbing, occasional masonry, sometimes help people shift - those people in the high rises.

I know that these people in the tall buildings can help me live and save.  But, there were too many of us here - there is competition for each job that comes out.   I finally found one.   Clean cars.   Saahibs and Madams would drive their cars out in the morning, and they would want them to look swanky new. 

I charge about 400 rupees a month, and they are happy to pay.   I have 11 cars now - to shine!   I eat in the nearby shanty - naastha - dal chaaval, or roti sabzhi ' would cost about 40 Rs per day.  I give about 300 Rs for a raajai and a mosquito coil everynight.  Then add my kaini and paan, which keeps me going,  I still save about 2000 rupees every month.  

Our partner log or uncles go to our village - about 30 km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh,  and my family runs in this money.  My maa makes papads and achaar and that gives some money.   My two nieces study in a small village school, where I studied till 4th, and then I had to work in my father's motor cycle factory.

I can feel it now, going to meet my family after 4 years.  The journey has taken 38 hours ...another 15 minutes,  the Delhi-Agra passenger will slow down - somebody would pull the chain, as always is the routine.   And we jump, run across the track to small lane.

I lean across the window and already see my happy nieces in the dark... it is pitch dark...but lights are at a distance... something whistles towards me in the dark... and hits me ... suddenly everything goes dark... I could hear shrieks ... then darkness.

I wake up ... I can't see -  I can see murky shapes moving on my right, my left side is dark.   I panic, I try to speak... my throat is dry - somebody is shouting - Hosh aa gayaa!' .  I see my friends Munna and Kunal, and my bhabhi  faintly.

I feel numb and empty -the pain is white, I can tell you that...

I don't hear the shrieks of my nieces or the mumbling welcome of my bhabhi or the noisy breath of my maa,  I can't see the quiet smile of my bhai or smell the aroma of the aalu sabzhi that awaits me... 

I smell phenoyl and medicine ... see green curtains and white-dressed humans... After 38 hours I boarded the train - I feel empty!!!

- The One

Pics courtesy Internet...

( This blog is based on a boy in our neighbourhood whose left eye was damaged by a stone throw when he was about to alight from his train -  let us pray for his recovery)


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