A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That



Today, driving back home a while back, I was immersed in my thoughts as usual. It’s wonderful, how the brain itself compartmentalises our different actions and as long as we do not delve into any particular one beyond a certain safe level, each action gets performed smoothly. So while a part of my brain was busy processing my thoughts, whatever those were, the other part was safely manoeuvring me towards my abode after yet another day at work.

It was at a roundabout, as I took my first turn in otherwise a straight road till now, that my thoughts broke for the first time. I looked at a young man in his late adolescence trying to make his way through the traffic on his bicycle. On the other side of the road,there was an auto-rickshaw carrying two passengers, a middle-aged woman wearing the typical bright Punjabi attire along with a child in red shorts. Nearby, on the pavement, an old man holding onto his stick was negotiating with a fruit seller. I saw all these people in just one glimpse as I drove further. But somehow, their images kept lingering on.

Suddenly, I had this urge to come out of my previous thoughts which anyway I was not able to recollect, and look at the people as I drove past them. They all were different, yet all were same. I would never recognise anyone of them if I were to drive past them just after an hour. The auto-rickshaw driver was just another migrant from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh with those same features which make them all look just the same. That middle-aged lady with her hair tied back into a long braid was just like any other woman of her age and similar taste or should I say, bad taste in fashion.

And then it struck to me, for all of those people, even I am just one of the millions of people that they drive, ride or walk past in their lives. We all have our own focal points, emanating from our self to our parents, siblings, spouses, children and moving beyond, encircling our friends and relatives and so on. Majority of these just brush past each other but some get intertwined and we get a new acquaintance. As time passes, many of them fade away while some remain intertwined for eternity.

My brain was not content with just processing this inevitability and it sprung up a new question. What must they be thinking right now?

As I saw a young charming woman ride past on a kinetic, I skipped a beat for a moment as happens to me every time like any normal human being. But then I moved to the same abnormal question trying to contemplate what all thoughts must be going through her mind right now. Was she thinking about the fight she had with her best friend or was she thinking about the excuse to make to her parents for going on a movie with her boyfriend.

How I wished, I was that guy.

But again pulling back myself from these fantasies, I saw around, a microcosm of humanity, all moving here and there with their own purposes and their own convictions.

I am just one of them, nothing great about me, I thought.

And this is the thought which sends a shiver down my spine. This is the one thought which has been recurring over and over again from past few weeks and this is the one thought that Kate Winslet puts succinctly in the movie Revolutionary Road when she says to her husband, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, “Look at us. We're just like everyone else. We've bought into the same, ridiculous delusion.

This thought has become more profound since I’ve started working. Till now, somehow I was protected from these thoughts as a student. But entering the real world, I realised, there are so many like me who think, somehow they are special. As Kate puts it, “Our whole existence here is based on this great premise that we're special. That we're superior to the whole thing. But we're not.” Yes, we are not.

We are all different, yet we are all same.

The sooner you realise it, the better it is for you. However, I wanted to escape from this thought as soon as possible. So, my brain automatically sprung up another thought.

Just like I am philosophising about everything, was that young lad on his bicycle, also pondering over it. Moreover, what about that old man? How many times in his life, he must have thought about this. Or did he ever care?

We’ve got such a wonderful thing known as the brain. It is not just a storehouse of such large information but also helps in processing it as and when required. But how many of us actually use it beyond the desired motions of everyday life. I believe everyone does. It’s just that the proportion of these different usages differ. While, I am using it to philosophise right now, someone else in another corner of the world will be busy fantasising and day-dreaming. The latter is definitely a great escape from the blunt questions of life, I thought; as I again got immersed in the thoughts  of that charming girl and gradually shifted to Kate Winslet's steamy scenes in The Reader or was I imagining that girl in place of Kate!

As all this was going through my mind, my car suddenly halted and I realised I was looking at the gate of my house. My brain had once again directed me well, bringing me home safely while I was busy contemplating a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Image Courtesy:
http://www.cumberland.lib.nc.us

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Escape - 2

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 10; the tenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.




Sometimes in the duel of love, Heart gets overwhelmed by the Brain
It’s high time, it says, to move on; than wasting your time in vain
Better things are there in future; just don’t keep spoiling your chances
To keep intact a rotten tree; which has even shed its branches
Forget those smiles and the meanings, you used to make out of them
Someone never cared enough, you were alone steering that helm
Than sitting here and expecting that one last miracle will take place
To a new life, to a new dawn, you must get up and set your pace
Miss this one chance and you’ll end up sulking, over and over again
That gift of life that you possess, in this sorrow will just drain
Person to person it depends, how they get over this emotional fight
All one needs to do is, forget the past and set priorities right
The time has finally come to put to an end this Heart and Brain's strife
Time to ESCAPE from vortex of emotions to a new blissful life


As I escaped from becoming a Fool last time, I decided to compensate for it by Escaping twice this time. So here is my second entry for Blog-a-Ton 10. This is another ACROSTIC from my stable after my recent attempt, Religion. Though, this poem is pretty amateurish but was pretty difficult to write as here, rather than the first letter, the first words of each line form a message. So do not miss the message in red which is how I define Escape in this post. To know more about Acrostic and read my previous attempt, click here.
And yeah, if you haven't read my first entry for Blog-a-Ton 10 as yet, just click here. That's the real thing :)


Image Courtesy:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27635621@N06/ by Collegium Kelowna (edited)


The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Escape

This post was voted as the best from amongst the 60 entries for Blog-a-Ton 10 and won me the Blog-a-Tonic of the Month aka BATOM award. Click here to see the results page.



This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 10; the tenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


There was not a single speck of doubt in his mind. He looked sideways and then clutched his son, close to his heart. “It is the time to escape.”
 
*

“So you are Jayaprakash, haan?”

Ji Sahib.”

“Listen carefully. You will get a daily wage of Rs. 165 throughout this project. You are required to work for a 10 hour shift. When there is more pressure, you may have to put in more hours. There will be no compensation for the same. I believe Mani Ram has told you about the commission and all.”

Ji Sahib.”

“So you are alone or with your family.”

Sahib, my wife and son are also accompanying me.”

“So what about your wife? Won’t she be working.”

“No, Sahib. She is not keeping well.”

“Ok. Ok. You can put up in one of the vacant kholi there. Any questions?”

“Sahib, is there any provision for education of our children.”

“Not yet but I believe some local NGO will soon start conducting some classes. Chalo now hurry up. Put your thumb impression here.”

Sahib, can I have the pen. I’ll sign instead.”

“Oh, signature! Fine. Have it.”

*

Jayaprakash was just another migrant labourer from the state of Bihar toiling in the sun and mud of the Punjab plains. Born under the shadow of Emergency, he had been fondly named after the great socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan who led a student’s movement in his home state. His father, a marginal farmer had always dreamt of his son becoming as famous as JP but their circumstances never allowed their dreams to get better of their fate.

The seeds of Green Revolution bore fruit in the states of Punjab and Haryana while their state remained in darkness. Lured by the prosperity in this region, Jayaprakash too emigrated with a bunch of his friends at a young age of 15. For some years he kept moving from one village to another working on the fields of others, earning enough for his own subsistence and managing to send some money back home for his ailing father, ageing mother and younger siblings.

Soon, Punjab also saw a boom in real estate with new housing societies and malls being set up. It promised more money and Jayaprakash decided to break his agrarian roots.

Meanwhile he got married to Vimala, a coy girl from his village. Having remained away from his family for too long, the very idea of having a family filled him with hope. God blessed them with a son in the fourth year of their marriage. He had planned it that way to accumulate enough resources for proper rearing of his child. They named him Rahul

Working in the dust and sand, Vimala developed some serious allergies and had an attack of asthma. It wasn’t possible for her to work at construction sites. This added additional pressure on his resources. However, he was determined to provide his son what his father could not afford when he was young. This was only possible if he could dedicate all his resources to just Rahul and his ailing wife. So, he underwent vasectomy.

*

His son had now turned six and Jayaprakash was on a lookout for some work near the capital city which could ensure better medical and educational facilities for his family. It was around this time that he heard about a Metro project coming up in Chandigarh. Getting work at a government project always ensured mandated minimum wages and lesser exploitation. 

However, Mani Ram, the middle man made it clear to him that he’ll have to part away with nearly 20% of his daily wage to enlist his name amongst the workers. Moreover, he had to work for more hours than the stipulated time of 8 hours as by doing this, the contractor could enrol fake workers while getting the extra work done by the existing ones. However, it was a good bargain and Jayaprakash along with his family, moved to the City Beautiful.

*

Papa, this fountain is so beautiful.”

“You sit here and enjoy beta. I’ll get bhel puri for you.”

It was Saturday evening and Jayaprakash had brought his son to the Sector 17 Plaza, the heart of the city. Presently, he was working at the hub station of the Chandigarh Metro which was being constructed nearby. They had been in the city for over six months and by now Rahul had joined a make-shift school being run by a local NGO for the worker’s children. College-going students used to teach the children in evenings and weekends and by now Rahul was able to rattle A to Z in one go. Today Rahul had come first in his class test and as promised, his father had brought him to the Saturday Carnival in the Plaza.

“Hey, Rahul don’t lean over the railing that much. See what I have got for you.”

“Ice cream and popcorn! Wow, I love you papa.”

It had cost him nearly third of his daily wage but he wasn’t complaining. Afterall, even they had the right to enjoy the luxuries of the richest city of India.

*

Vimala, I’ll get a little late today. We might have to work through the night because this is the busiest area of the city and work needs to be completed before the morning traffic starts.”

“Take care of yourself. Don’t over exert, haan.”

“Yeah, I’ll take care. You too take your medicines on time and make sure Rahul doesn’t loiter around with the neighbouring kids. He should study for his test.”

Vimala was recovering well. The Government Hospital was in close proximity and she was undergoing a regular treatment. Their decision to shift to the capital city was bearing fruits. 

*

It was around two at night when Vimala heard some frantic knocks at the jittery door. She sprung up and hurried to open it.

Vimala, there has been an accident at the construction site. The crane operator felt asleep and the chain snapped, throwing the heavy girder on the labourers working there.”

“Oh, my God. Where is Rahul’s father? He is safe na?”

“Come on. Hurry up. That’s why I’ve come here. Even he got injured in the accident. We have to go to the hospital.”

Leaving Rahul in custody of her neighbour, Vimala rushed to the hospital with his husband’s co-worker.

*

The accident proved fatal for five workers while Jayaprakash escaped  the death. However, he could not escape misfortune as his leg got amputated. All of a sudden all his dreams came crashing down. From being the breadwinner of the family, he was reduced to a dependant. Vimala had to take up his role despite her own ailments.

Government had announced Rs. 1,00,000 for the gravely injured and Rs. 5,00,000 for the kins of those who expired. Without a leg and nagging pain in the back, even Jayaprakash felt like a corpse but he could only get a fifth of the amount. However, even that money was hard to come. The Metro Corporation told him to approach the Secretariat who in turn sent him back from where he had started. Despite his dozens of visits to both the departments, he could not get his compensation.

All his savings were dwindling fast. Even Vimala could not go to work daily due to her own health problems which had once again become acute. It was not even possible to move back to the village without getting the compensation. With the help of the local trade union, he was able to extract Rs. 20000 from the Metro Corporation after obliging some officials. Now atleast he could send Vimala and Rahul back to the village with this money, without any concern of his brothers or their wife’s treating them as a burden. He decided to stay back and wait for the pending amount.

But before he could arrange for their travel, Vimala had another asthma attack.

She couldn’t even breathe her last.

Jayaprakash was devasted. It felt as if someone had also severed his other limbs. He was left alone to care for their young son. 

What could he do?

*

It was First of May and the first section of Metro was ready. It was being inaugurated by the Punjab Governor who also acted as city’s Chief Administrator. Various dignitaries were to travel in the first run of the train from Sector 17 Hub Station to the metro station located at Chandigarh Railway Station on the outskirts of the city. However, one compartment was to be occupied by some selected labourers who had made this day possible. Even Jayaprakash was selected for it.

He was confident that he could meet the Governer at the inauguration and tell him about his plight. He wanted to get his compensation as soon as possible and move back to his village where he could start some small business and ensure that Rahul doesn’t get into any bad company. He was still too young but keeping a tap on him was becoming difficult in the absence of Vimala.

*

“Today is a momentous day in the history of this city. The city of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s dreams, has added another feather to its cap. To keep this city cleaner and greener, we now have our own Metro Rail network which will definitely help in decreasing the carbon footprint of the city.”

Everyone applauded as the Chief Administrator continued with his inaugural speech.

“Today also happens to be the Labour Day. We are proud of hundreds of workers who assembled from various parts of this region and made it possible for the city to achieve this feat in record time. Some of them are here with us who will accompany us in the inaugural run of the Metro train. However, I am really sorry that I’ll have to take your leave due to some emergency.”

Jayaprakash wanted to meet the Governer earnestly. He saw it as his last chance to get his due. He limped through the crowd but was stopped midway by the security personnel.

“Please, let me go.”

Arre are you mad or what? Don’t you see, he is leaving now. Go from here.”

Jayaprakash walked back dejected hanging on to his clutches. His son was waiting for him near the railing looking at the expanse of the underground station with amazed eyes. Soon, they were told to move towards the platform. They saw the escalator for the first time. Too afraid to step onto it, they proceeded towards the staircase. However, an official seeing Jayaprakash’s condition, told him to use the elevator.

As he along with his son, reached the platform, they were separated from their group. He looked at the beautiful interiors of the station and admired them for the first time since he had arrived. All this was the result of hardwork, the sweat and the blood of thousands of men like him. However, their fate was written; to build such marvels and then proceed to the next destination. They were not supposed to reside in the sprawling buildings they built or travel on the massive bridges they constructed. They were wanderers, moving from one place to another, selling their labour, getting exploited in return and accepting their fait accompli

He wanted to escape from this vicious circle. He couldn’t allow his son to become slave to this fate.

He quickly hurried towards the end of the platform. Elevator, being present a little away from where all the hullaballoo was, no one noticed them. He descended onto the track along with Rahul.

Papa, where are we going?”

Beta, wait. I want to show you this tunnel. From within the train, we won’t be able to see it.”

He limped across the tunnel along with his son. Rahul was pleased that his father had planned this surprise detour for him. As they reached the other end of the tunnel from where the train was supposed to experience its first rays of sun, Jayaprakash moved off the track onto the narrow platform. There he waited anxiously. There was not a single speck of doubt in his mind. He knew what he was doing was best for him and his son.

He could hear the noise of the approaching train. He looked sideways and then into the innocent eyes of his son. He clutched him close to his heart, blocking his vision and getting the warmth of parenthood for one last time.

Beta, it is the time to escape.”

***

Image Courtesy:
http://i.cnn.net

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Creative Commons License
Reflections of an Empathic Libertarian by Vipul Grover is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at vipulgrover.blogspot.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at vipul.grover@gmail.com.