Image by Julien Lagarde via Flickr
The night waited stilly on me. It was an old habit of an old friend. I watched the mail trains speed past breathlessly across the tracks. The digital indicator ticked slowly second by painful second. I sucked on the last embers of my smoke stick and waited. My mind had not yet awoken, my heart was not yet asleep.
It was an old habit which had lost touch with me. These late night walks were my source of mental exercise. My thoughts just can’t refuse at the sight of an empty street. They start running at breakneck speed, but in a more clear and organized way. Like runners In a parade. I sat there watching trains run across parallel tracks snaking into the dark neverland. The station was dotted by a couple of beggars, who had dragged their tatters over their head to fight the night cold. The only other noise which punctured the chilling air was the squeals of a couple of kids running around the platform. These little tykes ran around the cement seats making noises enough to make the sleeping constable grumble. I smiled. There is something liberating about childhood.
One of the kids walked up to me and stood near my seat. I looked up from the smoke and smiled at him. He looked like he had a question to ask, but just smiled. He would have been 6-7 years old. His ragged half pant was green, but had begun to turn into an imperceptible colour. The hair was black fading to brown. He was missing two teeth in the front, and the stains of his last vada pav were still visible on them. He smiled again. ‘Kya chahiye be?’ ‘Ap yaha kya kar rae ho?’ he asked. ‘aise hi…Tu kya kar raha hai?’ ‘hum log khel rahe hain’ By now the remaining kids had gathered round. They were playing pakda pakdi. I remembered the last time I had played the game. I was 10 and the smallest kid in the building. I never managed to catch anyone, so I gave up on playing.
I trundled out of the station by 1. The kids were running around on full steam. They didn’t look like they sepnt a day on 3 vada paavs and a cutting. They were smiling, laughing, cursing. I looked at them living their childhood. Free. Free from studies and tuitions. Free from school. Free from thoughts about a career. Free from parents looking to mould them into future investments. Free from fear. But then I looked at them again. Perhaps, this is the only freedom they have. As children. Soon they too will grow up. And the chains will rattle again. life will again chase them, hunt them when thy hide and vanish when they look for it.... Pakda pakdi