Thursday, May 26, 2011


People call me crazy. The thing is I like to jump of bridges now and then. I do it just for the heck of it. Sometimes I do it to see if someone would save me! Mostly I do it for the thrill. See I learnt the hard way that life isn’t easy. You have to go through ugly downs and mind boggling highs. But in the entire journey you learn how to survive. Or you learn how to pass by.
It is a wonderful sunny morning. It is so beautiful. The breeze is cool, the sun is warm and the smell in the air is that of freedom. I am walking alongside the road, wandering aimlessly. The more aimless the better. And I come across this beautiful bridge. Hidden under weeds and veins it hasn’t been used in a while. The road hasn’t been used in a while. Only trucks which lose their way, come. I stroll along the railing looking at the beautiful stream underneath. It is the kind of bridge you know people never use. Yet the bridge has its own set of dark visitors. You might find an odd couple, at night, making out. You would find a group of strange men getting high  or gambling far from their wives and the policemen in their lives. It is the kind of bridge people come to, to do things they would'nt want the world to know. The kind of things that give you the type of pleasure you are addicted too but are not proud of.
 I find cigarette butts where I stand. They make me crave a nice smoke. But I blew all my money on Monica last night, the best hooker in town. She gave me a memorable night. She wasn’t really young but her age meant experience and her experience made the night one to remember. She was worth every penny. I can not forget the taste of her skin or the heat of her breasts. Plump and ripe like a woman's body should be. Even her thought makes me crave her love. I stole one of her earrings. It was a cheap ruby imitation. I took it just to keep it as a memoir, a memoir of the night that comes so rare. I cant really afford her every night. But on the nights that I can I ravish her and she savours me. There is something about love making and cigarettes. One always leads the mind to crave the other. I guess its the addiction and the ardent need for one that compels you to remember the other. Yet Monica is far far away. And I stand here alone.
I like my life. I really do. I live how I want too. Money can be a problem at times but I find odd jobs here and there. I have discovered that there are many jobs, some clean some dirty, that people don’t like to do and willingly pay to get them done. These jobs aren’t found in want ads but in alleys where creeps like me roam. Oddly enough I remember all the dirty ones. They were fun. The rest, your run of the mill less money more effort kinds, were pretty forgettable. 
This one time I got a nice job. I had to drive a man from the airport to his home. The man who hired me gave me a huge chunk of money and said there’d be more if I do the job well. The job seemed easy enough, the money good. I picked up the old man. From the looks of his he looked rich. He had the costliest clothes money could buy, the shiniest diamonds and the worst smelling perfume. He sat in the car and we left. Just as I began to enjoy the easy paying job, things changed. There was a car chase. Another vehicle followed us. The man was rich indeed but the wrong kind of rich. He was a smuggler from what I remember and I was the unlucky driver who had been picked to die alongside him. I swore I chanted my holy book under my breath as I swerved and dodged bullets. The sound was thunderous. I was scared. The man behind me sat peacefully. I couldn’t tell if he was prepared to die or he had faith in me. I dodged a few bullets. One of them hit me, right in my thigh. I couldn’t walk for almost a month. But my boss survived and so did I. I managed to escape. Adrenaline rush I guess. He took care of my medical bills and I got free food, free drugs and a beautiful nurse for a month. The sponge baths were the highlight. No hooker could make me feel the way her warm touch did.
But that was another decade. Another life! I was young and so was the place where I lived. But things have changed. I have changed. These days no one hires an old man. So I beg at times. I do dirty jobs where there is no excitement or danger just a lot of cleaning up of shit.
But in my days I was my own man. I had even joined a circus for a while. It took me across the country. I tamed lions. I slept with some pretty acrobats. I drank and smoked pot with the clowns and learnt a lot about animal shit from the maintenance. They were interesting people. I even picked up a little bit of Nepali. I learnt how to say I love you. I guess that was all I needed. I often smile when I remember those days. I don’t smile much except when I think of my life as a young kid. The circus was a great experience but it ended abruptly. Sleeping with the owner’s daughter got me kicked out. What a beating that was. They beat me black and blue and left me unconscious on the road. The girl wasn’t even worth it. Damn virgin! She was the scared kind, almost made me do everything. But they left me on the road and moved on. I don’t say I miss them but I’d have preferred a better ending, a better goodbye.
It’s strange how this moment reminds me of my conquests. Strange, how the running water beneath me soothes me. The water just sparkles so pretty. The sun looks so warm. I must say, the edge of the bridge is oddly tranquil. I can’t help myself so I climb over the railing to stand at the edge of the bridge. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world. There is a wild stream running beneath me. I raise my hands and I swear I feel like I am flying. If only I could fly farther. I wonder whether I should jump just to see how cold the water is or just stand there and keep wondering. It’s not like I haven’t done this before. I am not afraid of dying nor am I here to die. But jumping of bridges just makes me come alive. Just as I lift my leg I hear a voice in the distance. It’s a soft voice like that of a song. A woman’s voice. The sweet melodic kind. The only thing good enough to stop me from doing the one thing I like the most in the world. I turn. There she stands. A young woman with a child by her side. She is dressed in a pretty blue sari. Her kid is a young baby boy who has his arms around his mother’s neck. He is fast asleep. The woman seems distressed to see me standing on the edge. I can see it in her eyes that she is scared. She is scared that I want to kill myself. I instantly fall in love with her. What can I say I love women! And this one is beautiful. Her hair is in an entangled mess. She has been working hard, I can tell from the lines on her forehead. Her sari is muddy and torn at places. Yet she looks beautiful. I sit along the edge choosing not to get down. She draws closer. She is talking in a funny language. I guess she is a local. She is worried and she blasts of in her native tongue which is very annoying. I just keep smiling at her. As she comes closer I get a better look at her face. She is not as young as her body deceives one to be. She has lines on her face. But they add a charm to her beauty rather than deprive it. Her eyes dance a lot. Her lips are shaped like a fish without a fin. Her kid stirs because of his mother’s constant banter. After letting her talk for a good fifteen minutes I raise my hand and shake my head. I try to tell her I am not jumping to die but just for the heck of it. Yet I can’t explain it to her. I guess you really cant explain irrationality. No language no actions equips you for that. I try unsuccessfully. She cant understand what I feel or what I try to say. But as she gets closer I fall more in love with her. Yes I am in love, again! She smells like fish from the sea. Probably a fisherwoman I guess. She gets closer and starts tugging at my torn shirt. Her touch sends a shiver down my spine. She is trying to pull me off the railing. I am too strong for her. I let her get a little closer. She is persistent. She keeps pulling me. I am enjoying the struggle. She won’t leave me I know. As long as I am propped up on the edge she won’t leave me. She is an adamant woman. I am enjoying her attention. I don’t get it for free much anyhow. I smile at her. And she is still worried. She keeps saying something. I don’t move. Her pulling gets weaker with time. I can see that she doesn’t like to lose. She still stands next to me tugging and pulling. I finally relent and get down. She points me towards her home. I follow her. There is the sound of her anklets that rings whenever she walks. It’s like music, God’s music. She leads me into her hut. It’s a small hut, enough to squeeze us in. There is a small stove in the corner. She sits next to it, sets her kid alongside and starts making me tea. I am in awe of her. Her movements are graceful, her body firm and her face glowing. I am served with hot tea in a few minutes. She sits and stares at me like I am a sick old man. I know she pities me. It used to bother me, pity of strangers, but I have grown accustomed to it. I welcome it now. Pity leads to kindness and kindness of strangers lets me feel human for a while. We don’t talk because we can’t. I smile at her and she looks at me like I am a sad old crazy man. I point to her son and try to tell her he is very adorable. She looks at me with confusion. I try to make her understand and in the process I end up looking like a fool. She laughs. I can see her crooked yellow teeth. Its so infectious that I join her. What choice do I have? And for a moment we share a connection.
I hear a man outside. Her expression changes. From an easy smile it changes into a frown. I can hear a hoarse voice outside. A few minutes later a drunken old tiny man enters the hut. He is drunk out of his mind and smells worse than rotten fish. He looks at me and then looks at the lady. In his stupor he reacts. I can see that he is furious and he starts ratting off in the same annoying language the woman used a while back. They are fighting. I can see it. I take it as a cue to leave. I get up and start to walk. The man grabs me by the back of my shirt and pushes me out. He follows me and starts shouting at me. I can’t understand a word. So I smile at him. He misunderstands me and throws his bottle at me. The glass cuts me on the forehead. I can feel my own blood dribbling down my face. I can see she is afraid that I will hit him back. I am bigger than him. But he doesn’t anger me. I don’t react. I see no point in staying. So I turn to walk. He doesn’t stop. The woman feels guilty she tries to stop the man. He slaps her hard across the face. Had he not done that I would have walked away. But my infatuation with this strange woman builds a fury within me. His violence infuriates me. I am not a nice man when I am angry. I have seen some ugly things in my life. And I have also done some ugly things in my life. I use to feel shame and guilt but as I did more I became numb. But this fury just takes over. I grab a wooden stick nearby and strike the man hard across his face. The woman is horrified. She is scared. She grabs the man and starts wiping his face. He is knocked unconscious. My fury descends but she is scared. I can see it. She wants me to leave I can feel it. She didn’t like my interference. I just wanted to punish him for hurting her. But she doesn’t understand and wants me to leave. She pushes me and with a sullen look points at the way we came from. I try to touch her hand. She draws back. She doesn’t want me to touch her. So I turn and leave. I turn to look at her once. But when I do I see she has the man in her lap and her face is flooded with tears. He will beat her up again tomorrow. I know it. He will get drunk again tonight. Maybe sleep with a whore and come back to beat her. And she will quietly get beaten up and still love that man. Who can understand why women do the things they do? But I won’t forget her. I wish I could have touched her once. But she wouldn’t have liked it. So I turn back and walk.
I reach the bridge again. The sun has become sharper. The breeze has stopped blowing. I climb the edge again. I look over the flowing stream. I stretch my arms out. The feeling of freedom takes over my entire body. I feel weightless. I feel like the most powerful bird in the sky. There is no sound but that of the water flowing. I hear the anklets once. But I am pretty sure its my imagination. I think of the kind woman once and her torn blue sari. I take a deep breath. It brings me back to the same question. Should I jump? Not to die. Just to feel that thrill. It just makes me feel alive. And another follows- will she come to stop me again? I smile. What more can I do?


  1. Very beautifully rendered!

    It's nice to see you back-in-business.

  2. Me taking the world around seems to be a more apt title. Keep writing.