Monday, March 20

countryroads...take me home

I left the frenzied arrogant afternoons of my here - and - now and went home to what Erich Segal would say “retrieve my childhood tricycle". Yes, my childhood was littered all over the place. In half written old diaries and musty stacks of India today dated 1990. A moth eaten cover, a clammy face of a half - man- half- boy in flames.

He was the manifestation of an axe through a nation's undivided psyche, a charred face that jolted me off my childhood. And threw my generation off guard.
A restless generation walked out to begin life rendering a quarter of homes in Bihar man less and in some cases womanless (is there a word like that?) but I was told to write a happy post by those who care.
I tried being happy as soon as the overly- delayed -yet- least- embarrassed Air India flight landed at childhood world. I smiled back when I paid 130 bucks to a rickety auto ride from Airport to Boring Road. Smiled indulgently when he stopped to fill gas and squabbled endlessly at the gas station.
I smiled through the rows of mushrooming coaching centers appended with the fungal growth of lodges that housed many a “the great middle class IIT dream".
I smiled through the smoke lit chowmein & egg roll carts.
I smiled through old man and wife's shrunk world, hung to badly churned TV news interrupted by the blip of battery that runs their idiot box. I smiled through the old man’s undeterred hope in the electrical – engineer - turned student - activist who rules the State. "Nitish is a clean guy", he said with unmingled enthusiasm, "things will change".

I smiled at the static contours of my neighborhood and their unbridled interest in my single status.

“And why did you not marry?” they asked matter-of –factly, several times that evening.

I smiled at this neighborhood kid who was writing his Board exams, the most negligent participant in whether -plus – two – or – college discussion in my Holi stained living room.
I smiled till I wanted to scream.

A loud screeching voice through the silence of night in a dark afraid forest that wakes the dead.

But I stifled the sound till it dissolved within.

And I could smile one last time as the train pulled off from childhood tracks to a world where I had unfinished business.