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.
Red and green when bearing fruit
Yellow during the flowing season
Many wild guests on that hill
And in my memory always the same.
Another dead heart swapped
With a chemical trigger.
What land of toil?
Comfort’s only a resource
From the blue sky mine.
A dusty apartment,
plastic stickers glue together
a broken mirror.
The sunlight snagged
In barbed wire.
It’s an orange glow
that rips the shadows apart
-the one’s the city casts.
Over roofs are clothes,
people on phones,
besieged by electric poles.
Fireworks and traffic show
The city’s bare bones.
Visiting my grandparents was always an ordeal that inspired a variety of emotions. Every holiday I’d be sent away to their farm; until last year when they moved to city after my grandfather developed heart problems.
While I was still in school visiting the estate was something I looked forward to; I had next to no homework and could explore the farm or have people regal me stories all day long. When I was an adolescent I resented it because of how slow everything went and the lack of cable TV. When they moved to the city and had access to a greater amount of channels I had long since given up on TV and had moved onto the internet. This time however I think I’ve had a little too much of it all.
I decided that if I spent anymore time staring at a screen I’ll go blind and insane, or be overcome come by a desire to become one with the internet. While Mangalore isn’t the sleepy, green memory from my childhood it does have many quiet spots where moss grows on the walls next to quiet streams, cats laze about in the few spots where the sun makes it past the trees and human life seems non-existent. Every time I see an old building being torn down I repeatedly tell my companion for the day about the many woes of capitalism .
So much gets done when you have nothing to do. My minds still races around trying to figure out what it needs to get done. I’ve decided to not try and stop it since realizing that there’s nothing to do is an awesome feeling. I woke up at around 8:30 and spent an hour or so looking at the chickens next door than hopped up a few branches. It’s 11:30 now.So far I’ve read bit of Ruskin Bond and decided I should take note of his essay and strive for clarity in my writing. I’ve also started reading a history book in french, a Kannada magazine, watched a bit of tennis with my grandfather etc.
Among the many unusual delights the cities sleepiness has thrown up so far is the odd little man who stands in the apartment basement. I saw him yesterday and recalled my grandfathers curiosity about what might be ailing the man. I saw him again today while I was happily deleting the alarms I’d set on my phone.
The odd man was a skinny old thing with a house fly mustache clad in formal clothing. The sort of creature that anyone from the Indian sub-continent would classify as an “uncle”.
He stood by the desolate office in the apartment that I could see from our house. He stood there for an hour or so. He stood there by the stairs for an hour more. He was standing so I’m not sure if he was really sick. He chatted with a few people who’d come up to him so I reasoned he was quiet capable upstairs. He disappeared though after I started writing this. No one has seen him come or go. They haven’t even seem him move for that matter.
It’s odd writing about him. A man who just… stands. Stranger than fiction. I’d investigate further under normal circumstances and try to find out why the man spends his day day dreaming but I can’t help but feel inspired to lose myself to a day dream of my own, in the sleepy city.