I am a nameless homeless Indian wall. I stand in the middle of nowhere. Ever since I took my first breath, which was about 50 years ago, my job has been to stand and stare - at cattle, people, cattle people, buses, red lights, trees, rickshaws, women, dogs, garbage, you-name-it.
Things were a little different when I was new and painted pink. I did turn a few heads. But soon as the plaster chipped and the colour faded away, posters of scantily clad cinema women to fully clad election candidates started adorning my face, one on top of the other sometimes, the posters that is! Announcements of protest rallies at Jantar Mantar were painted in cheap blue paint all over me. Some boys practised diagrams out of their biology books, what solid foundation of education they must have. Things were colourful and bright, when suddenly, one day, mid-age crisis struck and people changed. Some would pause now, scratch a little poster off and walk away. Others just giggle at what was left of the polka dotted bikini and go whispering away. No new posters, no new paint. And everything soon fell apart and faded away.
I'm old now as I think all this. Very old. Wrinkles and scars and lack of plaster keeps the poster-boys away, and their audience too. But I'm not lonely or sad. Laughter is the best medicine and it has just begun. I now have the most company, for men now like to relieve themselves against me. They come running out of cars parked randomly, in a huff and a puff do the deed, and then with equal hurry walk away, feeling nice and easy. Some whistle the latest tune and others try to keep it as private and quiet as possible. They look menacingly both sides at the passers-by to make sure their eyes don't stray. Some others keep talking on the phone, lying about the background sound and calling it the fountain at Grand Hyatt. Others quietly concentrate. There have even been a handful who left behind a little note for their beloved, etched with a stone and for the world to know that Romee loves Julie, making sure the pan spittle lands away from the dotted heart.
|Taken in Kolkata, 2008
And today, the inevitable happened and took all my smiles away. Some traffic cop who likes to sit under the tree next to me and whistle the traffic jam away wrote 'No Urine' all over my face. If that wasn't all, he installed a few godly idols all over me to make sure the illiterate also understand his request.
Not a single man has sought me for relief. Not one has come all day.
I stand and stare, again, feeling bored and yawning away.
There's nothing to see any more and nothing to laugh about.
Nothing to make me think what men are all about.
I pray to the idol sitting on me that in my next life,
Give me hands and a bottle of paint for on my smiling face I'd write,
And tell the men who ran towards me that - 'Hey! I too had eyes'.