Shadows of Delhi – A scheduled Citizen
Her teeth, like ivory, sparkling in the morning light when she diffidently smiles back at my wink. A slender body wrapped in a cotton saree, amber blouse stands out alluring on her dark complexion. She stands strong, her bare feet pressed against the mud floor and her spine resting on a lime painted wall, she played with the flick of her hair. She turned to the arch shaped niche and killed the flame of the kerosene lamp.
Her face in the dying light of the lamp, even the side profile made my heart skip a beat. She was a brunette, long hair and her silver danglers complimented her grace. She was the perfect girl for my life, not voluptuous and not too petite, she wasn’t skinny and neither a plump, she had a generous soul and built of a knight.
Moments passed like the days, we partnered the same scene every dawn but never spoke a word, we stood still while our souls wandered the earth with our love pouring like the rain. We never uttered a word while our eyes conversed about every story of our lives. We never got close or held hands, but we could feel each other’s heart pumping with rising excitement. In our imagination we were inseparable but the light revealed our distance, a stillborn love story.
We never tried to steer our wagon through, because the society had already bound it with the chains of a Caste System. She belonged to a level I was not blessed with, a level I could not achieve without dying, praying, pleading rebirth among the saints.
With all the courage I went to her father’s store, dressed like a gentleman, and asked, “Will you accept me as your son in law?
I have passed my metric, I can speak a few English sentences, I possess a house and a flourishing paddy field, a decent earning to sustain a family. I kept on speaking about myself, my morals and all the minor riches which I have earned throughout my life.
Mr. Tiwari continued scribbling on his accounts register, the sunlight was passing through his gold plated spectacles, a sheen on the edge lighting his dark wrinkled face. He did not bother to look up, it seemed as if he paid no attention.
I inquired, “Tiwari Ji, are you listening?”
He looked up, creased forehead, shaved face which showed remnants of aged hair, dull eyes and a gloomy face.
He answered, “Isn’t death an option? Because in this life, being a low-caste you cannot marry my daughter.”
The words slayed my existence as it came like a blunt blade, lethal and brutal on the inside. Mr. Tiwari did not look again and hence it was clear denial, an abuse that writhed in silences of my head, an apartheid of modern times.
I turned around and walked straight to my house. The same night I packed my bag and left the town, headed for an urban city to let the memories of this castigation.
Now I sit at the back of a desk and work nine hours a day, comply to all the orders, eat monotonous meals throughout, live in a rented room and not a house, I am now a slave at the corporate world.
I left my town because I was insulted, now I am insulted almost every day for not meeting the mark, for not being composed, for not being on time, I now follow a routine, now I am scheduled.
I am Harish Chandan, I am now a delhiite and a part of this composure, a tiny piece of this complex structure, I am now a Scheduled Citizen.
This is one of the many stories of people of the city of Delhi, a place fulfilling desires of millions yet being hollow on so many spots. An integrated region of workaholics and ethically sound people yet disintegrated into segments and sectors.