Kya lekar tu aaya tha, kya lekar tu jaayega, Clap. Clap. Clap.
Jis tan mein tu aaya hai, woh bhi yahin jal jaayega Clap. Clap. Clap.
The loud singing of the old man wakes me up every morning before my phone’s alarm goes off. I spend a good half hour lying on my mattress, listening to his thought provoking songs on the rhythm of his clap beats. He invests such power in his tone, it makes no difference that he is singing outside his shop and I am in my room near the balcony of the fourth floor. Ninety minutes later, when I step down to begin my thirty minute walk to office, he is still singing.
Dekh tamasha jeevan ka, jeevan tera nahi rehna, Clap. Clap. Clap.
Jo kuch bhi kar jaayega, mitti mein mil jaayega Clap. Clap. Clap.
I hardly walk ten steps and I come across Rajender. He greets me with a nod every day and I nod back while adjusting my sunglasses. Rajender is a father of three and is thin as a banana peel. His hairstyle resembles to the bollywood actors of the early 1990s. His son is awaiting results of CA Inter examinations whereas his daughter is already an M.Com, looking for a job. Rajender’s eyes are tired of waiting for a relaxed life wherein he doesn’t have to roam inside a 100 Sq Ft. shop all day to fetch requirements of his customers, most of whom are labour class migrants from UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. He is sick of the language they use and he is ashamed of the language he has to use with them.
I buy a bottle of water from him every night, which he sells to me eight rupees cheaper than another grocery store at a small distance ahead. I asked him many times about his secret of selling stuff on such huge discounts. He replied once, “You get what you want, I get what I need and that should be enough.” I haven’t understood what he needs though.
I walk another fifty steps and I see the other grocery shop owner sitting on his cash counter with an ever present frown. He resembles that fat, greedy landlord of the village who is continuously planning on how to trick people to handover all their money to him. His greed shows in the way he treats his customers. He is also very short tempered and I see a police van outside his shop often and a couple of constables either arresting him, warning him or arranging a compromise.
At about hundred steps from his shop, I walk past the madman. He squats outside his house and curses loudly and continuously to his imaginary friends, or who knows, enemies or relatives, while looking into the void.
Another hundred steps ahead, I make a halt at the juice shop. The boy who runs the juice shop shows his interest wants to checkout my phone every day because of its huge size. Yes, big things always attract men. I resist handing over the phone to him to avoid my phone attracting flies all day. Dejected, he feeds a couple of sugarcanes to the grinding machine and prepares fresh juice for me. The juice refreshes me for a while as it passes through my empty stomach, calms the burning sensation of the acids inside and ends the war of the microbes who are continuously eating me from the inside. I walk a good thousand steps and reach the Lassi vendor.
The Lassi vendor speaks Punjabi, Garhwali, Haryanvi and Hindi with the most natural accent. It is impossible to judge where he belongs to. He is busy cutting frozen butter in bits and pieces to be tipped over the bubbles the salty Lassi in the glasses. I drink a glass of chilled Lassi and with it, complete my daily breakfast.
Just when I take right from the Sewa Nagar market towards Defence Colony, I see Bhoora and his staff getting ready for day’s work ahead. Bhoora, the illiterate entrepreneur, who sounds like a woman and makes every passer-by’s head turn whenever he shouts a curse on his staff, sells food to the working class staff of the countless companies in Defence Colony who cannot afford to order food from Sagar Ratna or Dominoes on a daily basis. Bhoora makes good money by being extremely polite with his customers and delivers fast service to them by continuously shouting on his staff all day long. Nowadays, his staff is spared of his curses because most of his curses are directed towards the owner of the new shop that has started in his competition across the road.
Just twenty steps ahead from Bhoora’s shop, there is a newly built ‘Ancient Sai Mandir’ which serves as a home to two priests. Bhajans continue to play in the temple at a high volume. The temple is built inside the community lawn. Yes, it is an illegal construction. No, nobody is interested in handling this situation and call the curse of newly installed idol of the ancient sai baba.
As soon as I cross the temple, the emptiness strikes on. It is a ten minute walk through the silent and sleepy Defence Colony till my office. I find it very peaceful to travel those remaining ten minutes in the absence of any exceptional character, noise, honking of the vehicles and rush of the people. Only people I see are the staff members, the municipal sweepers or a few morning walkers.
What a huge difference of lifestyle there is between the two places which are only thirty minutes apart! I yearn to reach Defence Colony to have some open space to breathe and spend my day peacefully, away from the constant noise of Kotla Mubarakpur.
I wonder if someone balances the equation by walking from Defence Colony to Kotla as well, just because of the irritation caused by the silence.