Fragments of Lives in Banaswadi
Manjunath was 23. Manjunath was wearing a hooded, oversized black jacket with patterns resembling paintings of Pollock. It was raining more than a few hours everyday for six days continuously, it was drizzling that evening, he is kneeling before the image of Mary contained in a glass enclosing, situated in a meeting of four roads. Other devotees of Mary, a tiny sized man wearing a white dhoti, some sheep and a dog are frozen as images inside the glass dome and are safe from the rain, flooded by lights from all sides. Manjunath was alone outside it. He is praying, holding a candle in his hands. He tries to think of the things he wanted to pray about. He has things to ask from her, he has promises to make. But his thoughts are interrupted by the gaze of the passer-by. He thinks of this day in comparison to all the days he can remember from his 23 years of life, he is sure it was the day his life will change. But he is thinking about keeping the candle burning, saving it from the wind, with the rain drenching his pockets and probably the matchbox inside it, he might not be able to light it again.
There was an unnamed woman in the park. That was the first time she came to that park. She lived right across the street for a year now, but with all the pandemics going on, she never thought about going to the park. She was worried about relationships, families, friends, losing her job, people dying, people not dying. She stepped into the park with a bag and a book inside it. She walked for a while and saw the park has a small elevated structure, benches arranged in a circle and a roof over it. She was nostalgic for all the things that could have been done there. A group of people sitting on the benches talking about the short stories published that month. She is blaming herself for being unnamed and friendless. She sat down on a bench shielded from the world, took her book and started reading a Malayalam short story published in Tamil translation during the 70s. An unnamed woman in it was having a conversation with death in it. The structure was surrounded with not so thick bushes of crouton plants. A group of three tiny kids playing hide-and-seek decided to take advantage of this and decided to use a bench opposite the unnamed woman as their hiding spot. Three of them fit below one bench. A boy, older than the three tiny kids, comes there and looks at the unnamed woman’s face for clues. She tries to keep a neutral face. He smiles. He then goes near the bench, without looking down, he counts 1, 2, 3 giving one kick in the butt each to the three tiny kids. Now come. It’s your turn.
Mr Kurian was 68 years old. His doctor wanted him to be thankful for not losing his eyesight completely. Thankful to whom or what, the doctor did not prescribe. Thomas Kurian, 68 years old, a cartographer by employment and translator by hobby, retired from both years back. He finally had a chance to step out of his house after a year of not leaving it. He was sitting in a dharshini with coffee in a paper cup before him. He made sure there was no one in 6 feet with him. He was not sure if that will help, but he cannot argue with her daughter, and he promised her. He took out his notebook and pen and started writing. Observations of yellow colored things on the street: Bananas. Mangoes. Autos and almost ripe papayas having the same green and yellow color scheme. Small trucks with a yellow front. Boards announcing street names. Flowers. Another type of flower that looks like lights hung for decoration. A woman’s t-shirt that says whatever I’m still fabulous. An umbrella. A board saying Jayashree medicals. Bags of cement. Chrysanthemum garlands wrapped around a small basket on a stall. Walls of a small stall selling cigarettes. A typing and DTP tutorial centre that has stopped functioning since the pandemic began, it was dying already anyway. A rocking horse abandoned by some kid on the platform. Helmet of someone speeding past the doll.