Monday, 13 September 2010

A CRADLE SOFT WISH

The road that dashes by the side of Sai Baba Temple and hits the traffic signal half a kilometer further down and turns waywardly towards CGO Complex, I am talking of that junction. The left side is free at that signal point. But some scatterbrained driver will invariably halt or park a bus or a car so that the turn is blocked and you are stranded for at least five minutes. And these five minutes are so precious when you are in a hurry to reach office on time! Today is no exception. The auto wheeling me to office plunges in a race against time but alas comes to a rakish halt at this point. This time it is a Honda City, brand new, straight-off-the-showroom, shining in the dazzling sunlight, its inflated rear side plonked at a crooked angle disallowing a left turn. Impatience mixes with something else, an apprehension. Soon the traffic light beggars will gherao the auto whining, pleading, and nagging for alms. I hate it. It is not that I do not want to help the downtrodden! But giving alms signifies encouragement to apathy, joblessness, social degenerates who hate honest, hard work. Fuming and fretting silently, I steal a glance at my watch, peer ahead; my eyes suffer a rude jolt as they hit the shimmering rear of the Honda City once again. I am about to steal another impatient peep at my watch when a skinny, bony arm sticks out inside the three wheeler. I follow the arm - slightly disfigured, just an over shooting length of calcified stick which gives way to the rickety mound of the cringing shoulder on which is tilted a small cherubic face with a pair of round black china balls in a sea of blue, a set of perfectly shaped milk teeth gleaming in the daylight and pale cheeks an inch hollow but glistening in unearthly merriment. A few stubborn strands have fallen at a naughty angle on his forehead which add an impish glow to the face. He does not say anything but just smiles shyly pointing a small soft palm frilled with little snow flakey fingers curling at the tip. The way pampered children haggle mutely with their mothers to buy them a Milky Bar out of turn. He is a novice. Naïve to the trade! He hasn’t rehearsed his lines well. Hasn’t picked up the whine yet! He just smiles and tilts his head further so that it almost bumps into his ball and socket.

A scrawny body refusing to hide under a button-less shirt and a pair of oversized shots which seems to dangle from the fragile circumference of his thin waist! An irresistible urge to clasp the baby fingers and pull him inside asking”Chalega, school, padhne?” Just a few stray moments. The signal changes colour. The Honda City shows off its burning brake lights. My carrier purrs into action. I unzip my bag hurriedly, fumble for my wallet, rummage in it blindly, scoop out whatever comes my way and shove it in his hands. He does not look at the crushed, crumpled notes. He just smiles. He is happy. The happiness pours out like sunshine through crevices of the mischievous glint of his eyes, pallor of his cheeks, the white innocence of his teeth. An unhurried pause in the revving up scurry of movements! A few seconds! He is gone!

It’s a bright morning. Very bright! Everything around refracts the glitter of the post rain sun. But the dazzle does not prick my eyes. There is a veil of mist which surrounds and deepens as I blink. Suddenly, a breath of breeze blows in from an unfamiliar direction crooning craftily a lullaby into my ears. A lullaby which sounds uncannily familiar! Words resonate eerily in the sonorous voice of Nidaah Fazli Sahib. The unforgettable lines aptly epitomizing the remnant of the moment just swished by:

Ghar se masjid hai bahut door chalo yun Karle
Kissi rotey huey bachhe ko hansaaya jaaye!


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