Mute spectator

Mute Spectator

(Saturday morning)

This corner belongs to me, has always belonged to me…….I’ve been here for as long as I

can remember. The Market square probably doesn’t even know of my existence as I adorn this murky corner. But I don’t miss a thing happening around me. I’ve seen children playing games together, women bargaining for even the most reasonably priced commodities, men gather to share a hookah on a freezing winter afternoon, charity drinking water outlets being put out in Summers……….I’ve seen the children grow up into teenagers, eyes meeting, hearts fluttering, love blooming ang even love coming to an end. It’s almost like life is lived here in this market square.

I like being the mute spectator. Because no one expects me to have any opinion (not that I don’t have them anyway), no one expects me to defy them, to ridicule them or to even agree with them. So they are all ok with my presence in the vicinity when they vent their hearts out! It suits me perfectly well, no one bothers me, I bother no one!

Today is yet another lazy Saturday morning, just like many that have passed me without as much as a whisper. Children are out on the streets on the warm spring day. Women have gathered up in the far corner, chattering about something. I know all of them, Shakila (the pawn-broker’s wife), Malini (the Grocer’s wife), Shehnaaz (the jewellery shop owner’s wife and my favourite, rather quiet and beautiful), Jamila (the teenage daughter of the postman) and Seeta (the pan-shop owner’s sister). They seem to be discussing the latest trends in sarees and salwars. What a delightful sight as one claims to be more informed than the other. How free of malice these women are!

(Saturday afternoon)

Something has happened. The children have been hushed off to their houses and there is a perceptible tension all over the place. I can hear the azan from the mosque just round the corner. The temple bells are ringing too but I’ve never heard these bells ring at this hour. I can sense that something is going to happen but I can’t figure what!

(Saturday evening)

The jeeps are out in the open. I can see men brandishing knives and rifles. No one seemed to have paid any attention to me, hiding in this hideous corner! Darkness is falling and I can almost feel the pall of gloom descending over this market square. After the jeeps passed, the eerie silence prevails. The usual hustle bustle of a typical market evening is missing too! I think I know the men on the jeeps, they’re mostly teenagers of this mohalla but some are unfamiliar faces. I wish I could understand what is happening here!!!

(Saturday night)

Help! Help! Everything around me is on fire! People! Come! Douse this Fire! The flames are engulfing everything dear to me! Lift me up from this corner! Come, PLEASE! Help!

(Sunday morning)

The carnage continues……..I can see dead bodies lying around! To escape from the burning hell, many jumped from the building roofs and were met with waiting assailants here! Some died on the spot, some are wailing, begging for help! God, what is this happening? What happened to the Sunday morning gaities? Where is that happiness that used to prevail on this market square? What’s wrong?

(Sunday afternoon)

I’ve never seen this many policemen walking around all the time I’ve been here. They are armed, they’ve hidden their faces behind ghoulish looking masks. Women and children are being loaded into trucks, for what, I don’t know. Maybe, to be hidden away from this fiery inferno?

(Sunday evening)

The place’s deserted! Everyone seems to have left. All that remains is the charred remains of what once was a thriving market square! No one has bothered with my existence! No one has rescued me! I’m still here but I don’t blame them! Who wants to save a rotten old broken bicycle? I am but a mute spectator!

(My thanks to Shyamala Chitti for lending me the book, Gujarat – A Tragedy in making, for that book gave me the idea for this blog)

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3 Comments

  1. Bhargavi said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    HEY! Thats some damn neat stuff u got there! Excellently written! Laudable!

  2. Pritesh said,

    February 8, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Thanks a lot Bhargavi! 🙂

  3. SHAMIT said,

    February 8, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Very good score for the narrative, however in my opinion the abrupt ending could have been a bit more smooth, like instead of a sudden ‘rotten old…’ say something on the past, why here/how etc. Good writing all the same!


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