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A Shadow in the crowd (I)

In our day-to-day busy schedule, we get so involved that we often fail to notice the person sitting next to us in the metro. We have no idea of them- their life, their dreams, their nightmares. But there are several amazing people around us in the crowd. I prefer calling them “Shadows in the crowd”. This story is about one such shadow…..

 

Kolkata.

Around 5pm of any busy working day. Buses, taxis, autos- honking, tires screeching, traffic light red-green-yellow-red. The city, she just breathes at this hour, tired of the day’s work. She doesn’t live, just exists; satisfied at the thought of having spent yet another day. Passengers in their seats, headphones on, probably a journey song is playing. The soft, lyrical song, you know, where the words are intentionally dragged at places, to tune it with the audiences’ mood; tired, a little sad, regrets surfacing, but all of it gives in to a smile saying life moves on. Hawkers on the road, walking back home with their earnings of the day in the pocket, leftover burden on shoulders, eyes lost in thoughts of how his life would have been, had the jute mill not closed down.

The lights turn red; car stops; two little Chotus and a Bani walk into the traffic, knocking on the windows of cars; requesting earnestly, “Ek ful le lo na dada”.

Even their voices lack the ding they had in the morning, just like the half-dead flowers; the day’s tiredness has got to them too. People here and there, walking from somewhere, to somewhere, monotonously. This hour, is a pretty lethargic time! Everyone just breathes, survives, exists…..

…..And in there somewhere, in one of those random bus stands, you will find Her. Not in the seats, but probably near the broken pillar beside the stand. A normal face, hair tied up in a pony, jeans, a casual top, slippers, a backpack on her shoulders, nothing fancy; in fact it is the perfect costume for blending in the crowd! The bag isn’t exactly dirty, it just has been to places! But what distinguishes her from the crowd is the strange look of hope in her eyes, staring blankly at the sky, catching a glimpse of the sunset maybe.  Obviously she was on her way to go somewhere, just like the people around, tired, headphones on, playing the journey song! But the Rebel stopped near the pillar, paused the song, starred at the sky to say her little good-bye to the Sun. Oh wait! Our rebel needs a name. Umm……let’s name her Huna. In Mayori, it means ‘hidden’.

Huna studies a random subject in the random college in the city. You really won’t be interested in knowing about it because walking in the crowd, you probably won’t even notice her. She is just another shadow in the crowd, consuming the planet’s resources. Oh yes, there’s one way you might notice her; when she bumps into you! But I am sorry on her behalf. She didn’t do it intentionally, trust me! She gets lost often; lost in her thoughts, lost in her fantasies, lost in the what-ifs and the maybes. Or she was probably just walking while trying to guess what the girl in the poster above must be feeling wearing the lingerie. Did she feel guilty, did she complain…memories flashed. So basically, excuse her, she in no way intended to bump into you!

Huna is like us, the kid trapped in adult body, trying to mimic adulthood. Except that the kid in her, manages to overpower the adult in her, more often than not. She prefers walking. And if you find her in a lonely lane, you might catch her humming a song, shyly, a little afraid of what people might say. But the hop in her step, you can see that clearly. The black nail polish on her toes, she loves them; you can find minute remnants of it on her skin around the toe too! Excuse her carelessness.

 She won’t smile at you, if she catches you looking at her. She will probably give you her get-off-my-lawn look, clear the clouds of her fantasy and walk away.

Obviously, you intruded in her me-time. She isn’t always like this. She is fun to be around, apparently. When she is with her people or she feels the need to socialize; she’ll talk, laugh weirdly, and crack the silliest jokes. You should look at her then, all bubbly, positive and Louisa Clark. But after that she needs to be alone; she needs to recharge. She is an ambivert. She can talk with you on and on and laugh like the world’s such a happy place; but don’t underestimate her. She can just pass you by on the road without saying a ‘hey’!

You must be thinking what it is that she is hiding. Some pain, some problem maybe just like those movie girls. But no she isn’t hiding anything. She has a perfect family, friends, above average grades, a good reputation everywhere she goes. Nothing abnormal going by the normal symptoms. It’s just that she has negotiated terms with life. She doesn’t have any big dreams to achieve. She doesn’t think out of the box, she doesn’t even know where the box is in the first place!  She isn’t any one’s first choice, no one’s priority. She has accepted it. She has accepted defeat in this field. Hence isolated herself. But isolation has given her a whole new Huna! Her isolation has sharply amplified all tiny sensations that she would not have otherwise noticed.

She wants to travel. Because within that calm exterior she has an untamable soul. No materialistic thing can satisfy it. They just don’t interest her enough, to make her stay. She wants to blow like the wind, from one place to another, carrying stories, smiles and songs. You should see her smile when she visits the sea or the mountain. Only such grandeur can tame her. They probably whisper hopes in her ears; you, I, we can’t hear them. It’s for her ears only. You might be talking to her, assuming she is listening; but she probably is thinking of how it would feel, to sit in a cave by the shore and read a Stieg Larsson, by the fire while sipping rum. It’s not like she is unpredictable. She has her set of actions and replies. She doesn’t bother to expand her set.

So you see, she is a fighter. Not the one with guns and knives and all decked up. She fights a war within, trying to control the kid in her, without upsetting it. She wants to stand as close to the edge as she can, without going over; because some things are only visible from here, you cannot see them from the center. So, the next time you come across Huna in the crowd, don’t smile, she probably won’t smile back. Let her be. All that wanders are not lost. She knows where she is going. Hakuna Matata.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”

-Nietzsche

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