23 August 2010


There was something wrong with his eyes. Well, of course there was; for all he did he couldn’t see, couldn’t open them more than the tiniest bit that was necessary to prevent him veering too close to the road and bumping into an oncoming bus or truck. Even then, it wasn’t exactly vision: some mysterious glands somewhere had suddenly become hyperactive and so all he saw was through the moist veneer of salt.

Thank goodness for the glasses, though. They were a relief, those goggles, shading him from the glare of the sun and allowing him to open up, even if that much. Still, it was irritating beyond compare, this sudden flood from his eyes. Nothing that had happened previously or that morning explained it, and so he carried on, shuffling, careful, eyes forced down by the heavy weight of tears…

He managed to get a bus. It was an ordeal getting in; it usually was at that time of the morning when duty summons labour from the outskirts. But it was better there, better even as it was worse: crowded, full of the sights, smells and sounds of the far-flung, neglected underbelly of Delhi, yet as shelter a relief to his tortured, exposed eyes. As they rattled on and he lost all sense of being amidst the pushing, elbowing and stomping, normalcy was restored and he could finally bear separation from the messianic shades. A relapse occurred, though, and he was instantly pushed back into the grey during the short interval he shuffled from the bus stop to the platform of the station, but then in the train everything was alright again.

But what stays? Out of the metro and till the faculty it was the same, the same torturous downfall that made the world a blur and everything dark and dank. Things cleared up once inside the long, uninspiring hall, but so it was, a mystery: why this should happen, why his eyes suddenly water incessantly outdoors when nothing could presage the onset of an infection was as much a mystery as an irritant.

Yet, so it remained all through that day. He met her after all was done and they took the usual route back. All was well as they chugged along the potholed road and past the ill starred Park till he got out.

Got out, as it was, to blinding hell. That place had never been too much of a stop and in that sticky, hot and humid afternoon it was a blaze of light and sweat.

And people.

People, yes, for there was something wrong here as well. Minute gave way to minute and the crowd kept on increasing; there had been no bus the past hour or so and the prospects looked dim. His condition worsened till the tears shut out the world and reduced him to near-complete blindness. Then, desperate times calling for desperate measures, then did he finally do what he’d never done before.

He took an auto back home.

And there it was, in the auto, speeding across the maze of traffic on the great road that he finally met his destiny. Finally, the cause of all his trouble, the end to all his misery; there, at long last, the fruition of all his pain, let go in all at once, in a mighty, tremendous…



Life 101 said...

There is nothing like a good sneeze!
You do good work.

Dave King said...

Very gripping. Enjoyable - even the anticlimax! Compelling writing, this.

Prashansa Taneja said...


AP said...

Thank you, all three of you: Rick, Dave and Prashansa, thank you!