The duplicate NASA coffee mug sitting idly on my single bed was in a risky position-about to fall off the edge with a possible bang . The worst part of this ‘could be’ event would have been my ‘awakened from sleep, with a zombie hunger expression’ roommate . Had it happened she would have cut off my early dawn sessions with her strict disciplinarian comment i.e. ‘cut the shit off ! its 4 am bitch!’.
Sleuthing like cat women in dark i stretched my stiff limbs after a 3 hour long GOT marathon and jumped towards my balcony hallucinating that i caught a glimpse of Venus-the morning star in the sky. As i stepped out bare foot,the 4 am scene from my balcony looked completely alien to me. The ever bustling road ahead was ghostly and dead silent. The sky up was dark grey with a feeble orange-cotton clouds skimming towards east where the wind blew.
Closing my eyes i tried silencing my mind to seep in the fresh energies but my mind kept going back to the same memory – 5 AM a year ago. Roads lit with lemon yellow shades…trees swinging in lust and two shadows walking on the road hand in hand,mustered close,whispering in each other’s ears. Lost in their own kingdom.My curly hair (they have a brain of there own) kept dancing on my face. The wind was strong and feeble at the same time. His almond coloured eyes kept tracing the movement of the curl on my face, till his strong rugged hand brushed them aside, smiling at my talkativeness and thanking god for the same.
Since i let my brain replay the whole memory –I ended up feeling cold ;alone;hurt .I finally started to focus on the sounds around me. Only two caught my sensor-crickets chirping and numerous Air Conditioner condensers burning out. A solitary bright light was switched on in the dark window grid of the front facing apartments. Maybe a student, up to revise for an exam or a working wife preparing early breakfast for her family before she travels to work, i thought. “What drives people to wake up so early?”, i sneered.Just as i was thinking about mine, my nose caught up a familiar scent-Jasmine i smiled recalling how my mother dictated Jasmine as raat ki rani- a scent so tantalizing that snakes get attracted to it.Or maybe my mother knit the story to keep me from plucking the flowers,i frowned on the realization.
This is a concrete jungle i thought, bending over the iron railing from the 6th floor and looking at the blocks and blocks of apartments.Where could this be originating from? I sharpened my eyes to look around in my peculiar ‘Sherlock Holmes ,puckered brow’ way till my line of action was distracted by the temple bells ringing.I followed the distraction to my left. Ah! people have started waking up GOD too. The only person totting around the temple premise was the dark-skinned, short height florist opening up his makeshift shed-singing in Bengali. Laid around his bicycle were moist bundles of fresh flowers.My eyes found the jasmine bundle split open-i smiled at my discovery.
I knew the humble florist , he once gave me an extra rose because my bouquet looked like it needed one, even though i had no extra cash. He thought his great irony was that he sold flowers outside the same temple, whose construction debris took his leg away-rendering him unemployable for various types of opportunities.He wore crutches, he was the only bread-winner of the family.He hated his work. He hated the endless lines of beggars-rich and poor, trackless and selfish temple goers who looked at his leg sympathetically but still accused him of charging high for the flowers that go in God’s feet. He wanted to learn professional singing but the look of his empty stomach-pregnant wife DRIVES him to earn bread before anything .
As i kept following his actions his first customer comes in. A tall teenage boy in his oversize white T-shirt(probably handed down by an elder sibling) with khaki shorts and awkward looking flip-flops. He had a emo hairstyle. How do these kids see through that hairstyle i wondered.
“Bhaiya ek rose ka bouquet ache se bna do” he says handling over a grey Gandhi to the florist. “the smallest bouquet is 250″ the florists points at the blackboard bearing cost without looking up . The boy fumbles something , looks down and kicks the floor.”Tie together the best roses i can get for 100″ he says disheartened. The florists starts the mechanical process of selecting roses ,cutting their stems off, clearing thrones,adding random green foliage and wrapping them in a transparent gift paper. As the florist applies the finishing touches to the bouquet, the boy’s mind is already two buildings away, re-enacting how he will ask out the girl of his dreams. He had fallen in love with the girl on Facebook ,chatting with her . He was sure she liked him too when she asked for his number and added him on Whatsapp. His cheeks turned red at the memory of how beautifully she wrote ,”Nice DP aatish :)” .5 AM in the morning he plans to drop the bouquet with a “Will you go out for a coffee with me?” note in her bicycle basket before she leaves for her morning classes. He is DRIVEN by Love.
The very moment Aatish thanks the florist and turns around, he is hit by a hunky-handsome looking runner crossing the road. The bouquet falls on the road. The runner doesnt bother helping or apologizing. He just turns away and starts running. The 20 something runner has been running for the past 1 hour. His white and red track suit boasting an expensive brand has turned a shade darker due to sweating. His body is aching , he is in pain, his blood pumping fast in his heart, in his brain , in his legs. He still has a mile to run.
He cannot rest in between because he knows, at the end of the road of this cold-posh locality is his home. His dad’s vintage car will greet him at the door. The newspaper on the iron wrought table standing on lush green grass will be there-cold..But what would not be there would be his father-wearing stark white kurta-pajama ,reading intensely with his half moon spectacles . Even in his last breath he kept repeating ,”You are a talented boy, your worth is much more. Dont waste yourself in drugs and alcohol”. The boy always used to sneer past him , like his father never existed. He does not exist now. His last words still resonate in his mind. “Break that Sprinting record. You can. Make me proud.” The sprinter sees nothing now ,than the record before his eyes. As he breaks into sweat hiding his tears ,he is DRIVEN by promise.
Up from the 4th floor my eyes fall on the guy running athletically, bathed in sweat. He looked mechanical. As he hit the poor teenager,dropping his bouquet i saw no light in his eyes. Rich Brat.Pride i thought.Just as the sun rose in the sky turning it pink, the NASA mug falls down.