Lines of sun beaten faces twist and curve along the flyover, moving from their still and slightly annoyed expressions to frustrated sighs as the traffic inches by. They turn, look down, inspect their vehicles, stop to have a look at the congestion up ahead while noticing now and then someone else they had previously overtaken, passed by or trailed in some new alignment in relation to them.
Now and then the flyover rumbles underneath the vehicles and humming engines in a concerning manner. The bridges are meant to do this, if they didn’t the bridges would crumble. The rumbling is because of the wiggle room to account for vibrations from vehicles and changes in temperature. Such concerning shakes are possibly an inbuilt safety feature to prevent the lethargy and dullness in the traffic from putting travelers to sleep. Put the traffic to sleep and you’ve killed a city.
Seated on the flyover, one’s line of sight has the dusty tree tops, the unseen and uglier portions of building that their owner’s don’t care to hide and a blue sky. A pedestrian might catch a glimpse of the sky, which on the bustling streets seems like an idyllic escape that hung over a quiet farm or town that once marked the area. The flyover offers a different perspective- the sky empty and echoing the dulling noise, the warm and dusty breeze that seeps out of the city below it and escapes desperately like a man gasping for air, greedily drawing in all that it can to live a little longer.
There are no idyllic villages left, there are warm backwater’s gasping at anything urbane while dust and plastic accumulate along the widening roads that march from the cities. Travelers scratch their heads, pull up scarves, push their sunglasses up after twisting their noses. Dammed fools of them, dammed like the rest of us, blindly grabbing at something the city seemed to promise. There’s got to be someone among those who rule over us who’s tired of squeezing everyone into one tried, dusty ball of confused complaints about how the world is. I really hope there is.
It’s not like the ones on the bridge are getting anywhere in this traffic.
Back in the day I’d stare at the apartments that surrounded the hill where I lived. They were like towers made of bird cages and every now and then you’d get a glimpse of a life, of someone lost in thought or just looking out wondering at the world.
I knew no routines, no faces or characters. They were just flashes of entire lives. Sometimes you’d see fights, sometimes there was only the blue of their TV screens.Where those smokers on their balcony with eyes glued to skylines nostalgic or thoughtful? Did they know what I knew or feel what I felt? What languages did they speak? Where were they from and where would they go?
Most of who I saw were teenagers, the people who I wondered about the most. I wonder if those people on their phones where about to change their lives at any minute with words that took them away from their spaces and across the world. I wondered if that girl with the poster would tear it down in a few years. What would change if you could hear them or smell them? Or worse, if you knew them.
I felt a strange nostalgia, I’m not sure if it was real or imagined. The kind I only felt about some vague memories of old anime shows- a wolf wondering why humans look at the sky when they can’t fly, a girl who is suddenly taken out of her world and petty anxieties to be left in an apocalyptic ones, a angel who lost his wings and a man trying to figure out how long it is before he dies because he is isolated from technology.
During the regular load shedding I’d look at the apartments from the grass on our hill now and then switch between watching the stars and the shadows of gas lamps. I wondered what they did with their free time; where they like me and candle light? If they looked I looked back. Once we even had a light fight- I and someone else would flicker or torches in turn. We stopped after an hour and I asked myself what they would remember.
I remember it clearly, Mangalore dreams and Mangalore rains, with people on their balcony’s sniffing the air, wetting their feet or just enjoying the rain. The bird cages drenched in Monsoon.
The city sleeps and a garbage pile smolders
A thousand goldfish swim on reflections
On the house and car windows.