Thursday, October 18, 2007

Traffic Signal Boy

He was standing there. Waiting for the signal to turn from green to red. I saw him as my vehicle slowed down when the driver realized that he cann't possibly escape the red signal at this circle where 6 roads coverged. It was a three-minute wait for the next GO. The boy had started off even before the vehicles came to a complete stand still. This boy probably aged around 16-17 years was looking quite handsome in that faded jeans and a tommy hilfiger t-shirt. Of course you could make out from 50 metres that it’s an imitation. I am sure, if asked, the boy would not have known who tommy hilfiger is? He might have said Tommy must be a big shot movie star in 'foreign' like our own king khan Shahrukh. Though that bit-oversized, red-black t-shirt hung over his shoulder, the colours was looking good on that not so tall boy. Must’ve been 5’7”. Above average for an Indian male. But there was still time for his vertical growth. I was thinking what a good picture this brown coloured boy with his unkempt and unoiled hair would make if silhouetted against the rushing traffic as diminishing evening light and lights from the vehicles clashed with each other. I could make out that he was one of those school dropout boys. I smiled to myself as I thought that he must have learnt very early, that they don’t need no education. These boys at the signals either directly sell something or act as catalyst for somebody who is selling something at someplace. It might be clothes, fake jewellery or some computer course or a public meeting or whatever. This tommy hilfiger boy was briskly going around the road packed with two wheelers, cars, autos and buses and was distributing, nay, almost thrusting the pamphlets to one and all waiting for the signal to turn amber. Many people did not even look at the boy or the pamphlet.
Next to our vehicle there was this pretty girl on her Activa. She had a slim shapely figure and was looking gorgeous in her blue denim capris and black tank top that revealed her navel stone-ring, which glitterred whenever the last rays of the sun fell on it. Her well-shaped long legs were firmly planted on the road as she sat on her scooter, enjoying whatever she was listening to on her iPod. The fair lady was still wearing her shades though the darkness was fast engulfing us. Almost everyone at the signal was turning again and again to have another good look at this pretty young girl who looked like a model. But she, lost in her songs seemed completely unaware of the effect she was causing at a place as unremarkable as this traffic signal junction. As the boy approached her and tried to put the pamphlet in to her hands, she started as though it was some lost animal which intruded into her space and as though woken up from a reverie refused to accept the innocuous pamphlet as though it was going to explode that very second and pushed her scooter further away from the boy. It was then, when the boy walked off without even looking at that pretty girl that I noticed that everything was not normal with him. I tried to take a closer look at him. The vacant stare, expressionless eyes almost startled me. He seemed to be completely unaware of everything around him. He was moving among the rested vehicles mechanically. Was he stoned? Such a handsome figure. I took the pamphlet from the driver to see what it was. And I did not know whether to smile wickedly or weep at the irony of it all. Did the boy know that the pamphlet said:

1 comment:

Atoorva said...

My experience is that Booker winning books are usually good...all the shortlisted ones may not be. There was a time(after 1997 when Arundhati roy won the booker )when I decided that one day I will write a book that will win a booker...that was the ultimate parameter of excellence or the recognition of it. But Today after follwing its website/jury's blog for about three years i have realised that they need to add another word in the title- it is "English Man's Booker ". They miss out on many brilliant publications of the year simply because they are not published from UK publishers. Also they have some fascination for certain themes and if a book is defying that- that will not even feature in the long list .
Also these days I feel that a lot of good literaure is coming from translations - e.g. I enjoyed Measuring the World by D. Kehlmann(tr. from German) very much . Also the Orhan Pamuk books...Istanbul...My name is Red.Even the two books by Khaled Hussneini- the Kite Runner and The Thousand Splendid sons - were much more touching(despite their melodrama and filmi-ness)than the weird books getting nominated for various awards. But then, its individual's choice ....someone gave that record breaking advance for The Blue Bedspread too!