Friday, January 07, 2011


Trouble on the streets is always new, no matter how often you've spotted it, smacked it back, run from it. Trouble will always creep up on you in new ways, just when you thought you had its number.

Trouble walks behind you, just a silent step and a half behind your back and you don't know. One of these nights, you are humming. Some old, sweet song because the night is oddly clear for a city sky and the evening star is hard and yellow and the air feels like rain. Not trouble, no. You cannot smell trouble in the air this night although you crossed a big, open meadow full of lounging homeless vendors of peanuts and the last few cricket fanatics of the day, and you remembered to wear your straitjacket of caution - a purposeful walk, quick steps, alert eyes that saw everything but rested on nothing.

Then you crossed a busy road and then a narrow lane full of eating joints shutting down for the night. No, you did not smell trouble that night. You only smelt the city's night. You did not hear a footstep echoing yours. You only heard a light silence that made you want to hum an old film song. And so you began to hum.

You were a hundred steps from one of the city's largest, busiest train stations. It was nearly nine at night and the worst of the fury of daily commute was over. You look forward to quiet train rides in half-empty compartments. And then you heard a voice behind you.

But a voice is just a voice. The city is full of voices and these days, even when people are out alone, they talk. It seems as if they talk to themselves, but they are perhaps on the phone. Or perhaps they are insane. There are enough of those voices too at train stations. The wise thing is to let them be. They may not mean trouble.

But then you hear the voice beside you. It is saying something like: Mera mann to dekh, kitna badaa hai. It seems to have been spoken to you.

And you - you who have forgotten all about trouble today - are taken aback. Someone is saying he has a big heart. Perhaps he is talking on the phone. Surely, he means it metaphorically.

You glance sideways, puzzled, for the owner of this voice is walking beside you. Not looking at you. Just walking beside you, except that when he walks, his arms don't swing.

It is then that you actually notice what he is doing. His *ahem* thing is out. He is holding and what he is actually saying (*ahem* excuse language, gentle readers) is: Mera lund dekh, kitna badaa hai.

You stop walking. So trouble has been tailing you, after all.

The train station is across the road, less than twenty steps away. There are crowds over there and perhaps you should just break into a run now. Or turn and walk back towards the petrol pump and see if the man will follow.

But the man has paused too. He is looking at you now. And though you can see him, you are blinded by a strange kind of anger that doesn't let you truly see (you will forget his face, his colour and features in a few second). You can run, yes. But you will not run. Not from this exposed little creature who thinks you are alone and scared.

This is not the first time trouble has stalked you in this shape and form. Last time, you ran. You crossed the road. You squealed in fear and disgust.

This time, you look at the man and open your mouth. You don't want to scream. You want to say something. Anything! Something that will tell him what you think of him. But only one word will come out of your mouth is: Police!

You stand there, then, shouting that one word over and over at the man: Police! Police! Police!

You wish you had one of those neat whistles you'd been given in Delhi. But you don't really need it now. The man ran the moment you said the first 'Police!', quickly putting away his *ahem* thing away as he runs.

You shout out a few more 'Police! Police!'s at his back. Just for effect. You turn and walk further. A building watchman is staring at you as if you are crazy. He has not got up from his chair though. He sits there and watches you go past. You glare at him, though it isn't entirely his fault.

And you cross the road and go into the station. The night is still clear. The air still feels like rain. But even though you are more bewildered than anxious, you will turn once, twice, to look over your shoulder. Trouble is like that. It returns, and you never know how soon.


pi-pu-xi-xu said...

I can understand the sheer rage that you must still be seething with, since I've been there myself. And every time I read your blog, I cannot help but marvel both at your courage and your ability to turn so ugly an experience into really good writing.

Gauri Sharma said...

sometimes i really want to understand the psychology of such men...why do they behave like this...JUST WHY?? I think the best thing (i really really hope we women could do it) cut their *ahem* and put it in their hands...the thing they are so bloody (sorry)proud of.

Anonymous said...

awesome! god bless you..


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