Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Signal

there's a disfigured carcass lying at the traffic signal near the New Friends Colony Community Centre.

roadkill, probably a blueline bus. weathered grey trousers. white shirt/top soaked in blood. the boy/girl is lying in a twisted heap by the further side of the road. you can't make out it's face. there's a crowd gathered about it. the bus didn't stop. someone noted the number and is making a police officer note it down. you can see a hand poking out of the mess. it's unbloodied and clean. you can see three stars on the palm.

some people are concerned. others stand about the place, uninterested. in a greater circumference, some even pass by, ignoring the scene like it doesn't exist. happens often. delhi is a harsh city.

sometimes you have to wait a long time to cross this road. it leads from a wide, unfettered distance into a flyover. the traffic, therefore, is speeding either side of the road. they've set up a miniature garden on the divider. a small boy with a painted nose and a pebble attached by a string to the top of his cap dances with a hoop here. he shakes his head in a circular motion and makes the pebble move in circles above his head. his mother/older sister plays a song on a steel plate sitting behind him. he starts this when traffic stops at the signal. after a performance, he goes down to the road to beg people for money. he goes to firangs/college students first. i'm standing right there, behind him, as he's running from auto to car to auto. behind me, the traffic is whizzing past. people are wating on the other side of the road. they'll probably have to wait for another 10 minutes. i'm standing here looking lost.

ten minutes earlier, my mum called. she's coming with the man servant, parimal. he'll need a place to sleep. my set in lajpat isn't large enough. i tried fixing up a thing for him at a friend's place, didn't work out. they'll be arriving tonight.

earlier, in the same day, i'm sitting in ogilvy, trying to work on a brief for a banner inside an office, celebrating it's 10th anniversary. later, all my lines get scrapped, as we start work on an idea based poster campaign.

around 4 months ago, i'm sipping apple juice outside my office, another agency called fcb ulka. i'm considering moving to another agency because an idea i thought was great got scrapped because the client didn't understand it. actually, i messed up while narrating the script. i hate myself for it.

6 months ago, i'm waiting for the response to my application to soas for a course in development. i got the letters of recommendation from my favorite teachers. one of them made me write a paper for it. i wrote it on the reservations issue. i used a friend's credit card to pay the application fee. i spent about a week writing an earnest statement of purpose. they didn't get back.

three years ago, i'm in college. i'm in the finals of acropolis, a parliamentary debate organised by hansraj college. we were up against lsr. one of the girls we were debating against was very pretty. she met me around two years later in the saket barista and told me she was going to yale to study. the dramatics in her resume helped, she said. we were debating the imposition of the uniform civil code. the other team got their facts wrong. we got best team and i got best speaker.

four years ago, i'm standing in a senior's room in st. stephen's college, pretending to give myself a handjob. i'm also telling him what i want to do with my life. i tell him, i want to be a development professional for the undp.

six years ago, i'm in loreto convent, lucknow. i'm representing my school, la martiniere college, in a poetry competition, because uday, the boy who was supposed to do this had to participate in the prose competition which was happening at the same time. i'm frightened because i misspelt a word in the slogan writing competition and the teacher asked me who my english teacher was. they announce the results of the poetry writing competition. i win first prize. i believe, for a moment, that i can do anything.

sometime before the accident, i'm standing on the divider. the man servant has no place to sleep. there's no place at my friend's place. if i wasn't there, there would be space for the man servant . the boy is running from auto to car to auto. i see a bus whizz past behind me. others follow.

earlier in the day, i draw three stars on the palm of my left hand.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007