The Fly That Followed Me
Chapter One - The Exit
So here I am now on this train, oblivious to everyone and everything. Thankfully, my dear fly, the mountains would not have cellular networks—a fact I am most teased by. You wouldn’t know but you shall see. I need Sandakphu, and I had hoped you could follow me, especially after yesterday. So allow me to recount the few anxious hours that have lapsed since my last note. I need this distraction, now that the tears have paused and I can literally see more clearly. Writing, as it turns out, has consistently gifted uncertain hours with curious motivations.
Just as it is with all things Indian, the apparent disorder in its daily functioning has a rhythm of its own. Every one of us is a subtle, abiding participant in the nonsensical ruckus. It was exemplified by someone talking over the phone a few bays away in our coach.
The desi folk do not talk over the phone; they announce things – loudly and detailed. The sermon sends a chill down the spine of every single kid who is listening at their end of the phone call. These conversationalists frequently transport themselves completely to their personal world and like to accentuate it on their surroundings when they talk with loud tones and animated gestures. One end of these loud, descriptive conversations single-handedly narrates the status and life of the person on the other end. If enough time passes, one also gets to know about that caller’s family, distant relatives and yes, his neighbors too. Gradually, every functional ear in the vicinity on that end helplessly drives its bearer to become a part of the kitchen tales and to secretly contemplate them. We then have a beautifully system-generated communication platform where a random train passenger, deep in thought and miles away, analyzes what the neighbor of his co-passenger’s relative did in what was probably the last era. The entire function executes itself with a single terminating output: “Tch.”
Most of these men and women are evolving with time in parallel. It is a development slightly distant from the second factor of social growth—an uneven urbanization of the ways of life and mentalities of people. That is called the accelerator, and it can turn out to be drastic when you suddenly force this developmental “acceleration” on a static lifestyle—the last few weeks have been evidence enough.
The train had moved with a super special determination, but resigned to sluggishness at the very first station, stretching and relaxing for an hour. I looked around in an attempt to exemplify the eventfulness of the situation and merely exist. The side of the platform I was at, was platform one. I looked across, and saw the other side numbered platform four. I looked again, with a momentary hope that a magic train to Hogwarts left from the invisible platforms two and three. Such mis-numbering had nearly cost me a week back but I let it go. The weather was nice and I was tired. And any additional delay would only mean additional samosas—crisp, golden cones of deep-fried wheat-coverings, filled with an incredibly spiced-up preparation of mashed potatoes; four had already experienced a warm welcome down my throat, eight more were about to.
As the train sped onwards again, I looked out at a familiar sight: the Earth as essentially a melody of green and brown. It can only be figured out when the land is seen in brief flashes, and nothing does it better than a train. As it speeds along, the view turns a blur and all the colors of this world fuse into these two predominant shades. They had been further intensified by the advent of monsoons that had arrived in most parts of the country and had turned India glossier and bolder.
A brief sweep of the agriculturally distinct sections of this land and the psychologically distinct sections of this mega-society subscribed to the touristic marketing that Monsoons were the best time to explore India. The reasons were substantial: monsoon is mostly termed as “off-season” everywhere. This means cheaper rates and fewer travelers. Second, rains clean up the omnipresent dust and seem to lower the pollution. Any Indian would tell you how the world around us is always a shade hazier than norm, and how a sudden dust removal makes it all shine back into our eyes with an alarming radiance. Third, no one likes to risk getting a print of the wet, brown earth on the freshly washed cottons. This means fewer crowds when we talk about a swarm of over a billion people. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the monsoons turn the air cooler after our long stint with the summer heat, helping every last person realize the difference between him and the burning bread in his toaster. It establishes itself as a corroborating factor to the environmentalists’ fight against climate change. After all, the most critical fallout of increased heat is not the extinction of species or ending of our world. It is us.
An ant died because a kid squashed it with his feet. The kid was trying to satisfy a bruised ego at having been shoved out of his room by his sister. She was venting her irritation at being pointlessly blamed for not helping her mother in the kitchen. The lady, meanwhile, was angry at having been shouted at for not having her husband’s clothes ready on time. The dear hubby was just frustrated at having to go to work in the terrible heat. If only it had been a bit cooler… Perhaps the man of the house would have focused on the coming weekend instead. Or his wife would have let his rudeness go. Maybe the daughter would have simply apologized to her mother. Or at least, the kid would have gone to play rather than hit. And so, perhaps, the ant would have lived to see another day… But then, who cares about an ant?
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