Metro Diaries - The Last Kiss (Part #2)
Read the previous part: Part 1
His entire life till now was a perfect example of survival of the fittest. You are enough in everything and anything you do in this world. Others are here to serve as a distraction so that they reach their goals before yours and become winners. These were some of the beliefs he had fondly cherished in his heart, practiced and at times preached too without much success. It wasn’t that he was not capable of getting attention. On the contrary he actually gathered a lot of it wherever he went blame it on his devil-may-care attitude or his deep brown eyes which sang songs of love and longing to any heart that cared to listen. It was his heart that never cared for any attention. All he craved for was solitude.
Rahul kept staring at the rickshaw driver even after he had got in. His expression was something he couldn’t get out of his mind. The moment Rahul specified where he wanted to go, that rickshaw driver who till now was busy playing with the matchstick suddenly started scanning him top to bottom.
“You don’t look that type.” He replied carelessly.
“What type?” Rahul was now irritated.
Before that rickshaw driver could reply he noticed the camera and the ID card which read press peeping out from his pocket. That was an answer enough for him and he motioned him to get in the rickshaw. Rahul was miffed. He didn’t know on what, because this was the most obvious reaction anyone who wanted to go to red light area would have got. After paying him Rahul crossed the road to enter into a small dingy lane which looked like a different planet. Narrow and devoid of any usual fanfare this lane reeked of impoverishment. Kids were playing outside just next to a huge garbage dump where ample flies and mosquitoes were buzzing with activity. There was a public urinal next to it adding to the already pregnant air with various stenches.
The panwala sitting just the beginning of the lane didn’t seem to mind all of these as he kept going about his business normally. His hands were busy making pans and eyes were glued to the huge television set placed in his shop. A small crowd had gathered there to watch TV and on that pretext gossip too. Most of them also acted as pimps, who were now eyeing Rahul as a potential client. Looking at their dressing Rahul could easily understand who they were. He hurriedly fished out the Press tag from his pocket and slung it around his neck. Just then a heavily built man walked towards him. With a crowbar moustache and a height that was way above average he looked like a wrestler who would wring his neck in the blink of an eye.
“Where to?” That man asked in a tone that was matching his demeanor.
“Err… I have come here to meet Kamalatai. Room no. 6. I have an appointment.” Rahul was fumbling for words when he saw that man loosen his body and smile. Though Rahul couldn’t decide which made him look worse, his smile or anger he still kept a straight face knowing that he was in ‘their’ area and at ‘their’ mercy. That man gestured Rahul to follow him. On his way Rahul saw painted faces on both the sides of the lane. Peeping from windows, standing at the doorstep, some bold enough to stand on the street motioning the onlookers to come hither. That sight made him uneasy. He tried avoiding their gaze and kept looking straight till they reached Kotha no. 6. There was nothing extraordinary about this kotha except the fact that Kamalatai was one of the oldest members who was still present there. Rest all had either died or moved away to unknown destinations. Just as Rahul was about to enter the room, the stale smell of wilted flowers and perfume hit his nose. It was strong enough to make him giddy for a moment. This place could do with some sunlight and fresh air he muttered while trying to drive away that odour with his hand.
A lady who looked to be in her late fifties was sitting on a swing in the center. Dressed in a bright mauve saree with heavy brocade border she looked regal. A fresh string of jasmine adorned her hair which was tied in a bun and a huge maroon bindi completed her look. Her bangles tinkled as she asked Rahul to sit next to her on that swing. She could have easily passed off as someone’s mother or aunt had it not been that sly glint in her eyes. After he had introduced himself, her tone changed drastically. From wanton she now sounded measly. Rahul smiled and began to record the interview interrupting in between with more questions for her. Without revealing too much she tried to concentrate only on the main issue of rehabilitation. Rahul had to probe a lot to make her reach a breaking point after which there was no stopping her.
-To be continued