There are so many little incidents that distract us everyday, cramming our craniums with these useless happenings would be pointless. Yet, it doesn’t always lie in our hands. Sometimes, the grey matter is receptive to the most insignificant details and one fine morning, it hits you without warning, there’s a sudden rush of memory and you are kept wondering why on earth you’re thinking about that of all things.
Quite a few months back, my car halted at a traffic jam. It was busy morning I recall. People shouting, the incessant honking of horns, and vile exhaust pipes bellowing clouds of smoke everywhere. The sweltering heat didn’t help either.
It’s a strange, looking out at the world from a car window, sheltered in that cocoon.
Nearby there was footpath. It was a regular Kolkata footpath with a muddy gutter; shaded partially by trees, people moving in both directions, not a care in the world.
This kid in school uniform came sauntering down the path. A tiny little thing walking with these jerky hops, fiddling with the bottle strap that hung around his neck. Now he collided, bag and bottle and all, with another man. He was old, very much so, walking with a discernible limp. The dark glasses and cane showed that he had lost his sight. On this abrupt push, the child fell down, grazing his knees and elbows.
The man had stopped. He bent over the boy and tried to grab his arms. I couldn’t follow what was happening. Now I saw those knobbly old hands clumsily patting that little head, then feeling for his legs, chest, trying to make sure that the kid was allright. It was weird watching two strangers caught up in the middle of a busy street like that. The kid in the mean time was getting impatient and trying to release himself from the old man’s grasp. He succeeded at last. When the man was sure that the boy wasn’t hurt, he smiled and let go. And then things went to back to where it was. The man clutching his cane, trudging down the road and the kid skipping his way to school.
The car started to move.
It was such a simple incident, yet a few weeks back when I passing through that same road, it came flashing back.
I don’t know if you’ll find this happening in other cities of the country, perhaps you will. But for the time being, I’d like to think that this is what makes our city so different from the rest. It’s not always about the calculative ones who try to carve their way through this rat race, there are others too. Somehow I believe our city still has some warmth left in it. It has a quaint old rustic charm to it, lurking in the most unlikeliest of places. And the smiles are different too. I had read in a book by Roald Dahl that a true smile always reaches the eyes. If the eyes are smiling, you’ll find a tiny spark dancing in there. I’ve noticed those sparks in a number of eyes, all over the city. The kid in a muddy jersey playing para football, the maachwala on a Sunday morning, a lift operator at a shopping mall, a fellow passenger in the bus, the lady selling plastic flowers near new market.
And in the old man’s dark glasses.
It just makes me fall in love with our city all over again.