Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Traffic Signal

And the raindrops fell like little splinters onto the steaming bonnets of indianised sedans. Rani waited in a corner that didn’t do much to protect her from the rain. Like the city and its vehicles and people, she had gotten used to it. Nothing had changed since god-knew-when. The same signal that changed every minute and a half, the same port-holed road that the same old tender-worker refilled with more loose gravel, the same cloth that felt warm from her trials the last time the signal went red, the same bundle of cotton and rags that she feigned to be her baby. She thought of where her real kid would be. She brushed the thought aside. Her tears were pretty much indistinguishable from the pouring rain. With no one to notice, she knew better than to waste her tears. But she wasted them anyway. She waited as the timer counted down. 3…2…1…amber…red…
She brushed her tears away and stood in front of the nearest car and felt the warmth in her frail fingers. She ran the wet rag over the bonnet a couple of times. She cursed the rain. Stubborn little kid who wouldn’t let go. She ran it over the glass in front as the man behind the wheel flinched and gestured a shoo. She ran it over the glass again. And again. And she saw the man’s eyes widen as he spotted the sand in her rag as it scratched against his glass. Rani saw it too and grabbed her rag back in one quick motion. She stood a foot away from the car as she heard the automatic window whir. She stood in terror as tears welled up in her already wet eyes. The man behind the wheel was fuming as he stared at the terrified woman. He saw her decoy baby and her frail hands with the discoloured rag which she had across her mouth now, all set to wheeze and sniffle. He reached into his pocket and dropped her a 50 paise coin that Rani missed. It clunked into a puddle. The signal turned green and Rani heard the window whir again, as the man choked the engine and sped away. She ran to her little corner that half hid her from the unending rain. And she wept. Tears that were indistinguishable from the pouring rain. She ran back to the puddle where she’d missed the coin and picked it up.
Some times, she wished that there were no traffic signals. Everyone would just ride their own little vehicles and go. Keep going.

1 comment:

me said...

talk of coincidences.