Try walking in a residential colony that isn’t yours. After 7 PM.
The occasional crunch of gravel underneath your foot will be interrupted by violently delicious vapours rising from a kitchen. It is the only access you have to these impenetrable houses. The little human connection you seek.
Some of their dinners will go cold. You like this smell. It holds the past in its place, like a swinging pendulum frozen in its motion. Some dinners are lonelier than you think.
What is this exercise really about; what to gauge from this walk?
Navigating spaces that don’t belong to you. If it isn’t your space, whose is it anyway? Twilight turning night is the time to observe. There are certain promises.
A sweet romance, walking hand in hand.
Kids playing bat and ball on the streets; heavy cars urgently seeking their parking lots interrupt these giggly matches.
A father stands outside a house and stress smokes; muffled wails of a person in grief follow these burnt leaf fumes.
A companionship under the orange street light, seated on a cemented pavement. You will understand this, only when you witness the beauty of it.
The muted tone of isolation; the security guards rising to duty will be kept awake by suddenly amused dogs. These colony dogs are heroes, villains; shape-shifting as and when they please.
Or is it the many, many, many flowers, which bloom and wilt and bloom again?
You arrive at your favorite lane.
The Samuels’s stone house with sloping roofs and overgrown vines will always be your object of fascination. You’ve never seen any one of the Samuels. Move on, there is plenty more to look at.
A garage fence made of dried twigs and lined by silver oak trees. Let out a gasp and move faster, you are only a passer-by.
One hundred healthy thoughts cross your mind. The very specific kind of thoughts that arrest your gaze when bubble-froth trapped on the surface of cold milk in a steel tumbler pops slowly.
At the end of it all, maybe one is looking for hope. Of home, of fresh air. Hope of not feeling completely lost in lonely times. Hope of listening to sounds of interaction.
A hope to witness human vulnerabilities playing see-saw with the sun. The night is when human beings can finally take their masks off.
My friend says that hope is very slippery. She is right.
“A man falling into dark waters seeks a momentary footing even on sliding stones.”- Mary Anne Evans, in Silas Marner.
We have to fall first, to find those sliding stones anyway.