As I lose myself in the rigorous, demanding prose of routine livelihood, the pure joy of writing, the dessert of the day that unwinds and purges the dirt and grime of quotidianism, is missed like rain in the arid pastures of North India. Yet, I am forever cognizant of a stifle in the cardiac region; something ceaselessly repeats inside me words and sentences. Every day as I leave my house and as the vehicle strides in its jolted journey toward the destination on the other side of the town, I see and hear noises of the morning-eyed India, and all along the way the meta-voice chirps happily freshly-baked expressions. It almost nudges me to reach for my notebook and start scribbling, as I had been normally doing for a time out of mind upon waking up and only recently stopped owing to the Nuevo academic schedule. And it pains me, even disturbs me, the thought of turning down something that comes naturally to me. It is almost impossible to write something on the way since the road conditions are seldom conducive to creative squiggling.
The not-writing-down-my thoughts, however, does not hold me back from observing and delighting myself at the various random images I come across; the leitmotif of humanity is presented with such variety that every day I am awed like a child at the miscellany I observe on the roads. Somehow writing sensitizes you and you feel like a youth at heart observing and regaling at the physical and internal beauty of the world. Although appreciation is temporal since an ordinary day’s experience eventually hardens you such that at the end of the day you find that the voice inside you is enervated, if not absent altogether. We must accept the drudgery of existence nonetheless and customize our creativity around it. So I have allowed myself one hour every two days and fifteen minutes every day to write down my impressions.
Right now, I sit at my desk possessed by the knowledge of a typical day, inflamed with the wondrous and sensational fantasies dreamed up during an automobile ride. The first sight that entranced me was that of a stretched out sheet of cloud and a lump of the same on the opposite side. I seldom check out clouds, but this morning I did; there was something awkward in the flocculent blanket that drew my attention. I have of late been making a study of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and have been intrigued time and again by the vastness of imagination of the blind man. I could not say if it was the result of my lucubrations, or something else entirely that made me think that the nebulous patch on the face of heaven was that of a stretched out god, sleeping, peaceful. I could make out his nose, slightly snub; his toes, two of them missing; his puffed-up coiffure, and two tiny cloud-bodied cherubim just abaft his knee area. A car, a cloud-made ambassador, to be precise, was heading towards this sleeping divinity. I wondered if the archangel had restrained its majestic pennons and was driving the four-wheeler in question. How he would look behind the windshield: goatish, profligate, meretricious, or insane? A concatenation of honks from different motors forced me to give up my thoughts half-way and concentrate on the earthy attraction. By this time I had spent almost ten minutes inspecting the dome above. What was funny was that the driver having divined that I had been inspecting the airplanes sundering the sky at regular intervals (we were close to the airport at the time) asked me whether I liked flying. Imagine my consternation when my solemn thoughts of a straightened-out god on the bed of clouds were taken as review of aeronautical parts by this pilot in the front seat!
Anyway, after this aforementioned incident, I looked up only once or twice to check out any new cloudy figure that might catch my attraction; but there weren’t any. In the meantime, I observed the earthy world on the streets, a universe unto itself, a microcosm of the young India vividly platted before me. And all I had to do was look. I observed shinning cars, reds mostly followed by whites, and a handful of blacks; women sitting in the front seats of their cars wearing earphones; people on the streets walking toward bus stops, their lunch boxes oscillating as they paced up the pavement; a golgappa seller pushing his cart, his wide-brimmed brass water pot covered with a pink and powder blue Rajasthani dupatta, his oiled, mehendi-colored hair shinning.
We stopped at several traffic signals, and these intersections were great places for me to inspect humanity. As we stood lame at one such stop-signal I looked to the left and noticed a small expanse of trash-littered landscape tailed to the front wing of a high building. There was a low barrier, a cement wall of some sort, barricading this area from the blue-glass-fronted-building. A couple of women with their heads draped by the pallus of their disheveled sarees picked up empty soda bottles and milk packets from this trash-scape and gathered them in wicker baskets. They had very small backs and one of them wore paste nathni and metallic hoop earrings.
Another sight that caught my attention was on my way back in the subway. There was a woman standing before me on the train back clasping two blackberries in her left hand. She was around thirty, neatly clothed in red and green salwar kameez, her hair tied up, a spectacle hanging down on her nose. She looked modest in every way. It was, however, the quirky nail-paint she sported—red paint dotted with bright green polish—that made me examine her closely. Her nails were very long, clean, but the paint somehow gave her an untidy air. Occasionally she talked on the phone in a corporate tone advising the receiver on the other side on business policies and ways to behave in an interview. She seemed knowledgeable and bright, but all my attention was drawn by her nail paint. I wished I could ask her the reason behind the choice. She did not look like one wanting to hide her age, the wrinkles around her mouth region were prominent; I could see some of her grey hairs too, then why? Alas there weren’t any answers from her side.
The final image that drapes my eyes right now and that which I think is the best image of all is of the spouse reading the newspaper with a genial resolution. The comfort in this motif is beyond belief. The peace that the drooling air condition machine generates at the epilogue of one long day erases old imageries and rejuvenates the vision. And thus, having finished my daily writing exercise, the contended me is ready to bid the liana of her daily sightings adieu in the hope of another fresh start tomorrow.