Just this one time, I would like to completely dedicate this blog post to something other than well…me. So much has happened in so little time, my mind stands boggled at the mechanics of this city. What really drives it? What makes it tick? What strange, bizarre path are we all trudging along at our pace? Life is beautiful, sounds like a cliché, but I know for a fact that this is true. Bombay is a fantastic place, in spite of all the bullshit that irritates me and bogs me down time and again, The crap, stink and filth that pollutes my life and makes me want to run away to some distant corner of the world, to get away from it all once and for all, it is ultimately the people here that make it truly, truly incredible, they make Bombay a place worth living. I finally feel like I belong here, for better or for worse. Every familiar corner that I turn to, stirs a powerful memory that fills my soul with an unexplainable sense of fulfillment that no other place has ever provided. I have finally realized that I am utterly in love with this city. My love maybe imperfect and humane but it is pure in it’s though and emotion.
. The vast arrays of experiences that this city has thrown my way are unique in their disparity, perhaps only possible to encounter here. Ultimately it is the people and their spirit that makes this city what it is, I hope wish and pray with all my heart that this never ever changes. Without its people a place is just that, a place, a mass of land, a geographic entity without an identity of its own. It is the people of Bombay that make it what it is.
The other day I taking the train to work, it was hot and sticky; I was uncomfortable in the heat and cringed in agony. I boarded the first class compartment as usual, a small luxury I allow myself, in spite of the fact that I only ride it for two stops. The morning was like many others, the air was thick with humidity and foul smells, and it was hard to breath. I always stand by the door whenever I can; I prefer it to sitting in a congested compartment. I was quietly reading my book and whiling away time, the train slowly left the platform at its own leisure pace, just when it was about to pick up some pace a little girl not more than seven or eight jumped in unexpectedly. Her clothes were stained and a little tattered but she seemed oblivious to this, her baldhead glistened with little droplets of unshed sweat. I was instantly jealous; I wish I had the courage to shave my head to get away from the unbearable warmth. Trust me, having ridiculously long; curly hair is a real pain in the summer. My wild mane, gathered in an untidy bun at the top of my head was a real contract to hair free existence. She gave me a small smile, almost acknowledging my awe at her boldness as she firmly tucked her black dupatta into the waistband of her pants. Somewhere along the way, in a quick, swift, precise movement she unfurled the black cloth upon her undeveloped breasts to hide her modesty. I watched a little amused. I remember vaguely what it was like to be eight once. The thought that someone could leach at my femininity, which was still in construction, never once occurred to me at that age. I wondered that instance, what kind of life she must me leading, to be so clearly aware of all the vile, predatory influences that harbor in this city.
Before I could even finish my thought, the little bald girl started singly loudly. Normally this would be nothing out of the ordinary, lots of people sing on trains. I catch myself humming a popular tune every once in a while too. It wasn’t the fact that she was singing, but her choice of song that was so damn odd.
“Nayak, nahi, Khalnayak hai tu, zulmi bada dukh dayak hai tu.” You are not a hero but a villain; you torment me and cause me great pain.
“Iss Pyar ki, thujako kya khabar, iss payar ke kaha layak hai tu.” You are unaware of my love for you; you deserve none of it anyways.
My eyes immediately shot up from my magazine; it was indeed an odd choice of song for a little girl. Not just because it was a tormented woman expressing her love and pain for a treacherous man that is truly unworthy of it, but also because this song is way, way before her time.
To be fair, this was quite a popular tune in the early nineties, when the movie first came out. I may have been ten or eleven when it bombarded the nation and cause mass hysteria and equal outrage. I’m almost 24 now, somewhere along the way its significance had faded with the passage of time and lost in the annals of cinematic history, until now, when it was resurrected in my memory by this little girl.
I immediately wondered where she had heard it and what could have possibly caused her to musically lament about the agony of a doomed love. What had this little eight year old seen and heard in her own brief life that had caused her sing this particular number as she dangerously hung from the open doorway, ignoring our warning about oncoming trains.
“Choli, ke piche kya hai, chunri ke niche kya hai.” What is behind my blouse? What lies hidden underneath this cover that conceals my ripe breasts?
“Choli me dil hai mera, chunri me dil he mera, yeh dil meh dungi mera yar ko, pyar ko.” My heart lies hidden underneath my blouse and cover. I shall only give it away to my aficionado whom I love.
The song remains etched in my memory, I slightly imitated the gyrating hip movements made immortal by the lovely Ms. Dikshit, “The Original Queen of Bollywood”. By then we were all engrossed in the enthusiastic performance. Some
even participated a little. A small encouraging smile, a look of nostalgia at the thought of a skimpily clad MD expertly swinging her nimble hips and a hum here and there is all she needed to continue with great gusto.
Her arms curled into a perfect arch when perched on her hips. They swung back and forth as she thrust her non-existent breasts forward and backwards in tune to the beat of the song. The unmelodious voice rose to a crescendo as it reverberated through the train compartment. We all looked a little embarrassed and dazed at this spectacle. Both these songs that originated in the same film dare to explore the idea of a woman consumed by passion confessing her love and desire for intimacy with her lover. She knows that he is far from perfect and all that might ever come her way at the end of it all is never ending heartbreak, yet she is willing to risk it all, just for that one, small, brief, moment of true happiness, even if it means a life time of sorrow ahead.
Aren’t we all in some ways a reflection of this woman who is willing to sacrifice a life of mediocrity and normalcy for that one single, moment of undying fervor that will awaken our spirit forever? Why then is it that we are willing to suppress our hearts great desire or even remotely acknowledge its existence in the name of false modesty?
Why did I need this little girl on the train, who may or may not even fully comprehend the meaning of her words, to stir my soul and awaken my ardor?
She may never read this, but I would like to whole heartedly thank her for making me realize that although my heart might have been broken before, there is still some room, somewhere in there for love, to let it consume me, once again, irrespective of the consequences.
(Next chronicle to come soon.)