Early morning at four when everyone curls up to one’s own self, sipping the last bit of a sugary dream that is about to leave the eye lids, when office goers who commute between cities reluctantly wake up to their age old drudgery, happy couples make love vigorously sending shivers across the thin walls, when muffled shrieks of pleasure are heard with undefined anxiety by the ones who have just got up to relieve themselves, when travel worn moon eagerly waits for the appearance of the sun at the eastern horizon, I stand right in the middle of a road that runs between two gates. My son rides his cycle and I amble behind him looking at both the gates, warning him about the sudden appearance of a car, call centre cab or a motor bike.
I walk up and down; between two mercury lamp posts under which I see innumerable moths that have sacrificed their lives for light. I think of human beings. They too die but not in the course of searching for light. The locality is immersed in silence. Sleeping dogs open their eyes and wag their tails. They have become friends with me and the young impatient cycle rider. Tommy, a brown dog with a scar above his left eye, sometimes accompanies my son, yes, between the mercury lamp posts, that I have marked for him as he could cover one round in one and half minutes. Dogs are funny creatures. Months of August and September are their ‘love’ months. Most of the early mornings, I see them in the hot pursuit of a lone bitch. Mounting, dismounting, cajoling, attacking, curious gazing, just loitering; activities are many behind that female dog. She resists. I remember Delhi.
Over the months I have learnt a few things or rather tricks. Looking at the pace of my son’s riding, I could say the exact time in the watch. I practice it every day to achieve precision. Hence, now I could say when exactly a god fearing lady would emerge from her house to go to a temple nearby. I could see a group of women coming from the other end of the gate to do their yoga practice in a public park right in front of my house. I know when they would appear there at the gate. I can tell you when the police patrol party will pass at times with siren on and at times stealthily like a thief in their official Gypsy. I wait for the fat man who rides his cycle to an unknown destination and tells me ‘namskar’ every day. I know the obese husband and wife would come out of the right turn at the fourth tube light post exactly at five.
A white WagonR speeds up at 4.45 am. A Hundai Santro slowly comes as if it were a somnambulist, slowly and sleepily. It stops at a gate a few paces away from where I stand. A young man gets out of it. Like a machine he opens the gate, gets back to the driver’s seat and drives in. A typical night shift executive. Some mornings a cool cab strays in, looking for an address. The driver feels so good to see a man on the road. He asks me and I direct him. From a small cage, a night watchman comes out. I wonder how he spends nights in that 3’ x 6’ cabin. He comes out and beats on his long bamboo stick on the road and blows his whistle. Like dogs moaning is taken over and transmitted by other dogs, many thin figures come out of obscure cabins and do the same; referees of early morning, directing the spirits back to their heavens or hells.
By 5. 15 am, the road becomes a bit more busy. Couples who have recently diagnosed of some illness to which physical activity could be a remedy come out. They walk in silence thinking about the good old days. A lonely guy runs towards north and comes back in five minutes; when he returns he is shirtless. He thinks he is Milka Singh if not Farhan Akhthar. People live according to rule books come out in perfect jogging gear; each person costs minimum Rs.10,000/- assessed by wardrobe. They do not walk or jog. They perform to fulfil their social duties as perfect and successful citizens. Mobile phones ring out ‘Ob Bhur Bhuvaswaha’ and a desperate one listens to ‘Chikni Chameli’ even in the serene early morning atmosphere.
I can tell you when the sun would come out. But before he is out I am gone back after my half an hour shuttle badminton game with my son. There at the park, women are still doing yoga. Their actions are pepped up by the talks of rising prices of commodities. A woman lies on her back on a dew filled green patch. She experiences something more than physical exercise.
When I think, these are the small little lessons of life, pleasurable and painful ones. I have learnt to look at the small and see the beauty of it from these early morning ventures.