It’s another day.
The grind of the day commences as seconds turn into minutes. The timings are forced by habit. Each moment optimised to maximise comfort and safe living. Safety was built through certainty, by sticking to the practiced routine.
This day was no different. The countdown began as I pulled the car out of the garage. The gears of the life were put in motion. There wasn’t any change possible from the set routine. It was familiar and safe. The start and travel time were synchronised with the time to reach destination with programmed precision.
The traffic light turned red at an unfortunate coincidence of space and time. An aberration from the planned scenario was not a welcome occurance. The countdown of 100 seconds to the next green window, emphasised the deformation of the perfect plan. The stress of not maintaining the imaginary milestones was rising.
The gulmohar trees had turned flaming red. The morning sun reflecting the colour for every observant eye. The spectacle was missed in the revving of the engine as the countdown moved to the single digit. As the numbers flashed, keeping in time with the final three counts, the waiting mass pulsated with anticipation.
With practised ease and tenacity, I broke through the mass of slow-starters to surge on the free road ahead. The clock had to be chased for normalcy to be restored. With eyes on the moving hands of the clock, the accelerator pedal was stamped to the floor.
The speed turned the pedestrians on the side of the road into a blur. However, today as the car slowed down to negotiate an unforgivingly steep speed breaker, the blur crystallised to reveal a walking human figure. The familiarity trap snapped close as the coordinated glance made the eyes meet. Brief though it was, the impression was complete. The hurry in the steps of the nameless human figure belied the anxiety related to the consequential financial loss due to the biometric attendance.
I knew he was one of the employees at my office. He was one of the many nameless faces in the organisation, we fail to notice. The nameless face whose per-functionary greetings are met with preoccupied mumble. The form became smaller in the rear view mirror, but remained in the conscience.
Reason could not resolve the dilemma of stopping or ignoring. The rational mind felt that ‘stopping now’ was not a reasonable option. The difficulty of a U-turn was cited as an argument to defend the recommended ‘ignore’ option. The conflict within grew in a crescendo. The reason may not have been rational, but turned out to be more compulsive. The flashing indicators of the car, indicated my intent of turning around. The decision contrary to the rational, was made.
The rest happened without actual occurrence of the exaggerated scenerios of the worrying mind. I pulled over and asked the nameless being to hop in. The disbelief and happiness of the unexpected help, created an unrecognisable expression, as he gratefully moved in.
The initial awkward silence was broken by me to ask some regular conversational start lines. Where are you staying? Who all in family?….And as the conversation moved on, he revealed his life. The responsibility of the aging parents, smaller dependant siblings and the pressure of unfulfilled expectation seemed like the usual story. However, the reality struck me with realisation that, it may be the usual story, but it was his story, real… in flesh and bones. He was living it, not reading about it. The boundaries of hierarchy, status and social identities were temporarily subsumed, as we shared each other’s life.
We arrived at our destination just in time. The hierarchy and the status rushed in to state the reality, bringing in the anxieties and rush. He rushed to press his thumb on the programmed intelligence on the red pad of the biometric gadget. He was in time. The money was saved. More importantly, one of the many small aspirations, survived its possible compromising death.
Today in the ‘ticks’ of the time and the ‘rush’ of the clock, I was aware of a unique story that ran parallel to my selfish story. Today the parallel lines that were kept apart by the social separators, travelled together for a brief but profound, time and distance.
I forgot to ask him his name as he merged into the multitudes of the mass, losing his identity in the social class. But then, what’s in the name!!! I had touched a life and for some brief moment we were one life.
It was another day. I noticed the flaming red flowers of the Gulmohor tree. They were the rays of the Sun.