He was going to get away from here; he knew it. Taking a last look over the top of the place he had called 'home' for the past decade, he marched on resolutely. There was no identity he could forge here for himself that would let him escape the squalor of the locale. He had had enough of â€˜Big City Lifeâ€™ (not that he would ever have had heard of Mattafix, but ignorance is only healed bit by bit, and unless one ventures out into the world to explore, one remains in stasis). He disappeared into the crowd..
He ogled at the mob fight in the streets below; â€œone-man-attacked-by-manyâ€ scenario. â€˜Isnâ€™t that the guy I robbed at ATM last week?â€™ He stared at the heaviest attacker among all. He felt no regret. â€˜Anything for momâ€™s treatmentâ€™
â€˜Whoâ€™s caught robbing him now?â€™ he sneered, finally spotting the victimâ€™s face, swollen, tear-stained. It looked oddly familiar. Looked exactly like him. â€˜Brother!â€™ he gasped. â€˜They caught the wrong guy,â€™ his cowardly heart screamed. Despair engulfed him, as he saw his brother forcibly surrender his hard-earned money. â€˜Saved that for momâ€™s treatment,â€™ the brother moaned helplessly, as the mob left, satisfied.
"These streets, the houses, the people, their belongings. I hate them all... They killed my family. I miss the gentleman I once was. A supportive father, loving husband, caring son. All of them died the day my family left this world. I'm just a devil who seeks revenge. I'll finish them all," he thought to himself, standing on a rooftop until he saw a little boy kissing his mom as she did the chores. That made him come back to his senses.
"No. the world doesn't need one more devil," he thought..
Ok, which one do I rob today? This place is not going to be that difficult. There are no doors to secure the houses and they use plastic sheets for the ceiling. I have so many options.
The one with the blue sheets looks taller and must be more prosperous. I must make my first attempt at theft a huge success. I am sure there must be a few lakh rupees, some jewellery and some electronic valuables available to steal and sell in the market. By tomorrow afternoon I will be a rich man and then no more stealing.
Now what!! Yesterday it was Naseem bhai asking for money. Today Sajjan Pandit has turned up. Looks like there is no respite from these guys. I am not sure if Anthony has forgotten the dues and Navroze uncle has a very painful way of reminding me. Kartaar bhai has extended the tenure for returning the money by 3 months. Not sure how that will help.
This colony is a great example of religious harmony. Goons of all religions co-exist and run a debt racket. I am in debt of all religions. Till some new religion arrives, I be gone.
He had always wanted to climb up to the bridge and look down on his chawl, wondering if it would look different from above. So one fine day he walked up and he could see his house, small and dilapidated and his family sitting outside and gossiping. There was his tea shop.
This was the right time to jump. Make his point with the municipal authorities, who were trying to demolish the whole chawl.
His death would stop the whole process; thatâ€™s what the politician had said. His family would be compensated. He jumped. Sacrifice for the greater good.
To southwest, you will see a bridge, he said.
Long, wide, coloured in putrid red
Be careful to the utmost,
Act casually and don a commonerâ€™s clothes.
Discover the wretched blue house that lies at the intersection of red and green and find the one that dared to oppose me.
Pummel him in the evening bustle of the colourful city.
Make the rainy clouds and nearby trees shake with your ferocity.
Feels worthwhile to daydream once in a while,
Be a theoretical outlaw, carefree, dangerous and imposing, unlike a mouse.
Now, let me proceed and mop the sapphire house..
"I will jump off from here tomorrow with an intention to win the competition," uttered Mahesh, to motivate himself for the Weekly Death Jump. He also tried to observe the slum in front of him while, one after another, his childhood memories emerged in front of his eyes. He seemed ready to try his luck tomorrow in the Weekly Death Jump but there was a pull from within which was almost cursing him not to try something foolish tomorrow. He was also concerned about his poor family and its condition but he just wanted to think beyond 'Jump'.
She: "This is our fate. Promise me you will stay happy."
He: "But... It will work out. We can try. I can't live without you. How will I even know if you are okay?"
She: "Please stop crying. My train leaves tonight. Come on now, smile."
Years later, standing on the same footbridge, as he recalls their last meeting,
his phone beeps.
"260315 is your Facebook password reset code or reset your password here: https://fb.com/2mcs.."
"She's missing me!" he smiles..
He was very happy that the business for the day was good. The daughter had desperately asked to come along with him to the market to sell baby toys. It was a summer holiday.
He was happy to see his daughter playing with other boys under that bridge. Not much had changed since the day when he found her under the same bridge.
But, he believed, as the new generation grows old, it definitely bridges this gap.
He loved the view he got there. Every day he picked a different spot to relieve himself. That way he got a new perspective and it also ensured the wall wasn't being weakened at the same spot. He was considerate that way.
"Brace yourself against lonely men. They love fresh unprotected walls," somebody whispered.
The next moment he found himself staring at a man walking towards him. He felt vulnerable and helpless as the man relieved himself all over him. He woke up perspiring.
The government was building public toilets for a reason. He decided to start using them..