I’m sitting on my Activa outside the sabji mandi. It’s 6.30 in the evening, the streetlights have fully warmed up and are throwing light in everyone’s face. Taai is buying veggies for home, and I’m waiting for her. I’m idle and just take a look around and suddenly I change gears.
There is a chana wala standing at his stall with a tired but hopeful look on his face. Business has not been good, and this means extra work for the next day. He is silently praying for some more business before he packs up. A small boy is sitting on a bike with his father. He’s planning something exciting, there is vitality in his actions, and a twinkle in his eyes. His father is looking at him adoringly, and amused at the giant leaps of his son’s imagination. A lady gets out of a small car, and walks in the mandi with an air of superiority. The poor women selling vegetables at the sidewalk recognize the pompous type and shoot a knowing look at each other and slyly smile. the lady talks to the vendors gruffly and cribs for small change, which brings more smiles to the sellers nearby. A husband wife pair pass her by, and the wife is telling something to her husband. The poor husband is trying his best to keep a concerned look on his face, but his eyes say that he’s longing for a hot cup of tea after a long day. He is thinking of ways to stop her from her daily complains. A sedan stops and a young man gets off, chats with the vegetable sellers and cracks a few jokes. The people are happy to see him again, and offer him the best deal.
I’m suddenly stark conscious of everything happening around me. I can hear every little horn that honks, the distant and distinct cries of the mandi, and can make out all the deals on every vegetable and fruit on sale. I’m able to hear the engines starting, the giggling of small lids, the scolding of dads and the practicality of moms. I can hear the coughs, the pleads for alms, the distant bell in the temple nearby, the noise of coconuts breaking. I’m just amused of all this. Isn’t this life happening right in front of me, around me?
Try this. Imagine yourself stepping out of your body. Just like in the movies. Follow yourself wherever you go. See how people react to you when you are not looking at them. Observe yourself when you interact with people. Listen to the words you speak, the tones you use, your gestures, expressions, the unspoken languages you speak. Observe the reactions, the twitching of eyes, the degree of light in them when they look at you, the smile in them, or the lack of it, the interest in them, or the absence of it. As you move on to some other place, turn back to look at where you were. Does your presence still linger around there somewhere? Is it sought by people, as a sign that they miss you, or is it a medium of people’s amusement? Now introspect. What does this tell you about yourself? Do you think you can rise above the things being said about you? Do you think you can justify your actions, in spite of the fact that people may or may not approve of them? Are you inclined to agree with people when they reacted to a specific action of yours in a specific way?
Are you aware? Are you alive?