City Streets

From October 2007

Vehicle fumes bathe me as I walk the city streets.

The roars of blue and white paid concentration cells, and lorries carrying rough blocks of granite vibrate my stomach. Various pitches of horns intrude my ears. The bikes and autos, unpredictable as flying insects, irritate the voluminous cars.

On the road, there is spit of different colours, cow dung, unstable slabs and sudden holes.

The flyover has plastic tents under it. Dead bodies of the trees still lie beside the widening highway. The smell of the nearby market is a strong mix of flowers, open fruits, urine and smoke of cigarettes and vehicles.

Some men with drunken red eyes sing songs as they pass young girls. A conductor and driver refill their water bottles and empty their bladders. I look away. The cobbler’s children are playing broom cricket.

Men with dark shining skin catch bricks in time with rhythmic hammering. The women ignore the incessant motorized slicing of granite as they sieve sand and cement, and carry the mixture on their heads. They seem to grow shorter by the weight.

A group of boys in faded clothes boldly share a partially used beedi and walk past the disabled artist who draws the same picture with chalk on the quiet road every few months. The vegetable vendor’s bare soles are dirty and cracked. But his eyes are bright. His voice rings out loud and spirited.

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