Parallel Tracks

Date: Out of memory

Time: 10.30 am

Location: Bandra Railway station

I was part of the usual suburban train circus of Mumbai - fighting for space and survival. The train had just left Khar and suddenly the crowd dispersed, making the footboard seem like an oasis of comfort.

As I filled the fresh air in my lungs, I noticed two gentlemen clung to the iron rod above the seats adjoining the footboard wall, both middle-aged and weary.

They were lost in some deep conversation and the matter seemed grave. The language was Marathi and my curiosity was needlessly on the rise - like it does when you have nothing worthwhile to do. I tuned in, and carefully tried to pick the sound bytes of their radio station.

"At this age, it would be difficult to get a job" one lamented.

"True,but why should you find one? It's your son's turn now, mate" said the other.

"Aaaah!, my son" came the sarcastic remark:

"The Lord wants to get into business. As if he's a Dhirubhai Ambani. Lazy bum"

They both shared a hearty laugh, wholesome outside, hollow inside. The note of resignation was evident.

"Did you chase accounts for the PF and gratuity formalities?" cautioned the advisor.

"Jadhav is a slow coach, you know that"

The answer came in an affirmative gesture - half-awake to the reality of the "slow moving" accountant Jadhav and half-aware of the impending doom of a retired life.

Both looked pensive and fumbling for words. From the looks of it, the advisor seemed close on the heels of the retiring colleague - his expression seemed to say

"I hate to admit but your fate would be mine soon"

Just at that time, a shapely female - probably a collegian - came in their line of sight as they glanced at the platform. She seemed to be in a hurry, trying to reach the stairs of the over bridge before the high tide of busy commuters caused a mayhem.

"Ahh ahhhhh" exclaimed both of our friends in unison, their eyes transfixed on the prominent peaks of her anatomy.

"Slowly go, my darling madam, my lovely heroine, ###@@@^^^... "

They teased her aloud in their "English" reserved for special occasions and locations:

An old jungle saying of this tribe - when fooling around with South Indians and Christians or moving around in Bandra and South Mumbai, ENGLISH IS MUST BOSS!

The girl obviously had no time to acknowledge the lusty sermon. She disappeared in the ocean of people after throwing an admonishing look.

As soon as the train left Bandra, our friends were back on the previous track of gloom - in a flash.

"How is your mother doing? Is the diabetes in control? I tell you, this Jadhav...........

I couldn't follow the conversation after shocked that I was by the sheer agility of their mood swing.

One moment of genuine lament, another of unabashed lust...Mixed emotions running sequential but almost on parallel tracks. Where did this super sonic response system sprout from?

Is that to do with the rigour of city life?...a life that has no room for transitions..where disparate emotions are forced to share scanty space? ...

Or is the monotony of a working class life to blame, one that seeks respite in the occasional lewd antic? A dark secret to be relished in public moments of private ecstacy...

Even as these questions bothered me, our friends seemed unperturbed.

For them perhaps, this was just another moment of just another day.