Sunday morning, 11:30; Woke up with the phone ringing; an angry voice of Ammi from the other side; complaining why I have not yet distributed the invitation cards of Bro’s marriage to rest of the people. Before I could explain her about the distance and the time the job is eating, her anger swamped me. I woke up gingerly, planning the day. Between breakfast and weekly chores, called up people. Frantically tried to schedule them and planned the avg. one hour journey to meet each. Had my Sunday dinner in between and left for Commercial Street.
Sunday afternoon 4:00 PM. Met masi there near a shop, she was collecting the dresses she has given for the three marriages she and her daughter are supposed to attend in next 10 days. I was standing outside the small shop, teeming with ladies in a Sunday afternoon. And then from the farthest corner of the street, a scene from the bollywood potboiler emerged. At least 10 bikes, with one or more pillions, all with saffron head bands; tube-lights, naked swords, cans of petrol, and flaming bottles. I cried for masi; the shop owner was already pushing everyone out. I grabbed the hand of masi and started moving fast. She had only the dupattas of the dresses in her hand. Swiftly moved towards the nearest lane. Just before we entered the lane, I looked back, a bottle has exploded right where I was standing; and a glass tube shattered right behind my heels. I didn’t look back again.
The Police were already pushing people and guiding them towards the safety zone. Masi was calling up her driver, who seemed like already moved away. After a few steps, we could hear the swooshing sound of the tear gas shells getting lobbed. Soon the wind brought some of it towards the bunch of people, of which we were also a part. Rubbed my eyes, and then realized I have lost one lens. No time to look for them; kept walking towards brigade road. Crossed the police barricade, and masi was able to reach the driver. We were in the car in next ten minutes; and she started calling up people. First her residence, then the shop owner, and then her daughter. The clock was showing 4:45 PM.
I was not supposed to be there, yet I had a brush with death? Or was it just the shock that was making my hands tremble a little? I remembered the violence in Kolkata during 1992; much much more fierce. Or the one we had in our college gate – 1990? Was I too young and reckless? Or am I weak now?
Still had to complete my tour of the day. Without my lenses, I kept moving, from one residence to another, and was finally dropped back home at around 10:45. Amazingly, there was no call on my mobile, not even an sms, all these time. Bro called up from kolkata. Talked to him, ammi and babai. Surprisingly, they too were unaware.
Midnight – all chores finished; was sitting in my corner, with the TV and the Lappu on. Catching up the bytes. At that point the mind started unwinding. First I was thinking about the two Sundays that were. The one before I was dreaming about life; waiting with abated breath to meet life; and this one, I was staring at death, alone. And I was realizing the value (or may be the lack of it) of life. My life! May be it is such insignificant; may be lot of lives are. And I am just one of them. Will there be someone whose life will change if I cease to exist? Well may be for a few days, at the most a few weeks. Then the life will move on, and I will remain just as a date in the calendar for some. A date that most will forget very easily.