Sunday, February 27, 2005

The colour of her eyes

Writing is panacea for the soul. It is therapeutic – this is what I’ve always believed. It’s just that in this day and age, with SMS and e-mail making things so much more convenient – not to mention quick – writing often takes a backseat.

Sitting in a train on the way from Calcutta to Kanpur, however, I took out my stationery and began to write. Its something I planned to do, and the absence of any irritating co-passengers helped. The continuous rocking motion of the train didn’t, but that’s another matter!


The colour of her eyes. Dark chocolate-brown. She looked unblinkingly at the two children begging opposite, a short distance away, as she waited for the bus. The younger boy was looking to the older girl for a signal on whether to touch the man’s feet for money or not. The girl, dirty and clad in a short polka-dotted dress, was standing passively, her hips thrust out in an almost disturbingly evocative manner for a child her age.

She’d seen similar enough scenes enough times in the past, when she used to travel by train to go home from college. She’d wanted to work for the underprivileged then. But that was before she got accustomed to the coke at the parties. Her life spiralled out of control and she was on the verge of dying when she was pushed to the AA meetings by Varun, who finally discovered her ugly secret. He was so proud of her for coming back to his life the way he’d known her before it all happened. And she was going to marry him in a few months. She didn’t want to do social work anymore though. She believed there were people who could do that better than her. ‘Know your strengths’, someone had once told her.

She wanted to be an author now.

She went quietly back to reading her book.


The colour of her eyes. Soot black. She was tired of this rigmarole day after day. She longed to run and play in the fields she knew when she was younger in rural Bihar. She longed to study in school again and learn about planets and the moon and the pretty shiny lights in the sky. Moving to the city had made her life awful. Her family didn’t even earn enough money to have food three times a day, forget becoming rich like they said would happen. Papa hadn’t been able to get a good job as easily as they thought. The lady who lived next door to them in the slum had told her mother to instruct her to stand like that, jutting her hips out, so that they could get some money to ‘help the family expenses’. She hated it. She looked at the fair girl in the pants and long T-shirt reading a book nearby. She wanted to be like her.

She decided with renewed determination that she would study. She would study at night and pay for it by doing something else during the day – not this horrible work. A bright smile played on her face as she had the idea. She shook her head to say ‘No’ to her little brother, who was looking for the signal.

No comments: