Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Daily PMT Experience [fiction]

My hands hold on tight to the pole. I shift my weight with the grace of a ballerina, a toss of the head and a straight spine: back to reality. Half my body feels secure, welded to the tiny space I managed to claim for myself. Once cold, the metal net against which half my chest reclines has soaked up some of my body heat. In exchange, it’s giving me a tattoo of grids that remind me of a fishing net. The other half of my body is still hanging out of the bus.

The fifteen minutes spent in front of the mirror this morning brushing my hair was a waste of time. But I don’t mind: it feels good to have the wind slapping my face, flapping the end of its dupatta at my skin.

I’m flying over Pune like a bat in broad daylight. Hundreds of images swiftly sweep by: trees, walls, slums, bikes, rickshaws, dogs, cows, donkeys, men… The forms appear, the colors get smudged, the outlines are blurred and they merge into something else. An amalgam of odours whirl their way to my nostrils: flowers’ aromas, dust, garbage, dung, and more prominently the acrid smell of carbon and other chemicals being vomited out of a jungle of engines. I feel the bile getting active inside: the coffee and toasts I had this morning want to get out of the comfort of my stomach. I close my eyes and turn my head to the other side, trying to move further inside the bus. That can only make me feel better, but it doesn’t!

I realise I’m now suffocating: a fat humpty-dumpty man is pressing his fleshy circular corpulence against my back. I feel the moist and the warmth from his armpit on my right shoulder. His straight black hair is vaporizing the entire bus with a smell of ripe jackfruit fried in coconut oil. “Lucky nahi, Champi!” Well the advertisement is definitely misleading: am the unlucky one out here! My bag is trapped between an old lady’s hips and the fat men’s legs; my right foot gets trampled on by a school kid trying to pave his way to the insides of this moving furnace.

“Vidyapeeth, Vidyapeeth” shouts the man in brown. There’s a forceful shuffling, combinations and permutations of men, women and children trying to get near the door, or trying to secure a seat. A couple of more shouts, pushing and pulling, ‘ding-ding’, and before the bus comes to a halt, I’m out on secure land.

Things have settled a bit in my stomach, but I can still feel the acidity burning my insides.
My hands now smell of a metallic vinegary odour. That’s the price to pay for traveling by the PMT buses! I take my yellow ticket, and I start rubbing it against my hands. It’s not that the bus ticket has anything pleasant about it’s texture, in fact, it is just a thin piece of paper impregnated with black grids and numbers I cannot even understand. However by crushing it against my palms, and rolling it round my fingers, I am hoping to get rid of the sour smell on my hands, and infuse them instead with the smell of the paper.

I start walking…


creyzeee said...

i love dis 1!! really!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

brilliant piece of writing!
lucid. rich. imagistic. sensuous. funny.
great subject. great style.
good english prose.
one of the hardest thing to achieve in the world of art.

murali said...

Very very veritas...from the gut, without artifice...kudos!