These are the times of big things and big issues. If you ride a little vehicle like scooty then you have to accept your humble position and agree to whatever inches of the road by the edges that may be granted to you by the bigger, faster vehicles. A car parked by the side will suddenly take a turn and deprive you of even the thin line of your travel along the road’s margin. A window may suddenly pop open giving you the scare of life.
I am going to the town and a liquor lover is asking for a lift. He is standing right in the middle of the road. When he found that I am crossing him without paying heed to his orders, he takes a swipe at my helmeted head. I duck and give myself credit for being alert enough to avoid going dusting at his feet. Further on, you have a non-confident dog looking to cross the road. It almost did what the drunkard had failed to do. Well, there are confident dogs as well, who just step back wisely as you press the horn. By the way, the very same are the categories of the humans crossing the road.
A woman is getting down from the bus with her face backwards and the helpless conductor shouting, ‘Look saamne, saamne!’ She tumbles down as the bus is still in a snaily motion. Luckily, there is no harm done and she gives a sheepish, embarrassed grin. A few people gather around and give her a nice lecture about how to properly get down from a slowly moving bus.
The most challenging task is to avoid a little school boy from scoring a goal. Bored with school after two years of Covid-forced holidays, and not in the habit of attending classes anymore and hence in a terrible mood, he tries to beat his boredom by kicking a coconut shell. He is all for playing football with an empty coconut. My vehicle is surely the goal. I turn sharply at the last moment and he misses it. Misses a goal and kicks dust with a dejected face.
Then I have to overtake a tractor discotheque. The tractor itself makes so much of noise and coupled with huge woofers and speakers it unleashes a tornado. The main beneficiaries of the music, if at all, are those at least a mile off. I cross it with much trepidation. It’s almost like getting across a fighter jet.
Randhir, the farmer, is coming back from the town. He feels best while plying his tractor, so in good mood he waves at me. His BP has been recorded to fluctuate between 40 and 240 and he passes off almost every fortnight. But he feels safe while driving his tractor. ‘The bumps and jerks keep the body shaking and I am at my best!’ he explains the reason for loving tractor riding. So he doesn’t miss an opportunity to go plying his tractor.
In the town, the banjaras have pitched tents along the road. They have a nice way out to handle the civic body officials. They too want to settle down now after those centuries of wanderings. They have national flags flying from their huts and tents. A few have cows also tethered in front. It stops the civic authorities from treating them merely as stateless ruffians. Nationalism sells well these days and they have as much a right to affirm their credentials as any other internet patriot.
A policeman has parked his car on the road and there is a traffic jam. Many people mutter their grumbling dissent under their breath only. You have to respect police even if they park their private vehicles right in the middle of the road. Small vehicles carry advantages also and I somehow squeeze through.
In the grain market, a merchant shares his philosophy. His servant is busy in cleaning his master’s brand new car. The business is slack and there is no work for the servant so the Lala has got him to the task of cleaning his already shining car. ‘Never leave a servant free!’ he tells me the mantra of his success. I get a few moments for a talk with the car-cleaning servant. ‘Haan ji ki naukri, Na ji ka ghar!’ he shares his philosophy. Well, both credos seem complementary to each other in the world of business.
If you are lazy to go visiting your town regularly and instead club your multiple tasks in a single visit, you will return at twilight only. There are shrieks and screeching of the noisy spotted owlets as I open the gate. They love jumping out while it’s still some minutes left for the fading light of the day and scare the people with their hideous shrieks and squeaks. It sounds like they are condemning my returning in one piece on a little vehicle, riding on a road that has been hijacked by the bigger ones.
Never commit the mistake of being absent for the entire day, especially if there are monkeys around. The garden is vandalized. The banana frond is decimated. It seems an intentional ravage. They are showing the best population growth rate at the moment. There are monkeys-monkeys everywhere. Does nature have a counter? Younger lithe males are trying to break into the established harems of the old rascals. Short on love, a young rascal settled for a very old, shrunk, tailless monkey lady. He was earlier thoroughly bashed up by the huge alpha male so the beaten Romeo settled for a harem discard. If they are off the scene even for an hour, you come to understand what peace really means.
A bat hovers around. The twilight is preponed slightly as it’s overcast. It loves to suck juice from the big dark scarlet cone of the banana flower. It seems to love doing shirashana as it hangs upside down from the pointed end of the cone. It’s miraculous that the cone is still dangling intact after the monkey’s free play in the garden.
The kittens are waiting for their milk. They are both males by the way. They now have a cheeky girlfriend. She is very clever. They love her company and their priorities seem to have shifted quite a bit. They have given her an unrestricted access to their milk bowl. They no longer sleep together curled up in a brotherly ball. There is a girl in the equation now. Maybe they are jealous of each other and are looking for some private space.