I stood at the metro station. Dressed in formals, the attire of a corporate prison, with a group of people gathered outside. They were always there, irrespective of the time and day. A regular routine. Court to office, office to home. I barely remember when was the last time I paused to take a look around.
As observed, a few people could be seen eating Indian gol–gappas from a roadside stall, while the others were debating upon the socio-economy of the country and the lifestyle it served. It was a regular routine and would have been a picture-perfect evening if the gathering wasn’t disturbed.
There was a sudden outburst. The wind increased and dust gathered around. Children chuckled, while grown-ups quickened their pace and ducked for shelter. The clouds gathered in the sky and someone shouted:
A droplet of water fell on my forehead shattering into hundreds of minuscule drops. It felt like a breath of relief in this arid climate. Seeking shelter, I dragged and slogged my dubious body to the side when someone tucked my trousers.
Looking down, a boy, barely 9 years old with ragged clothes looked straight into my eyes. He had an unlikely resemblance to someone I knew once. Ages back. Who? I could not remember.
The same eyes, the cheekiness, the excitement on the prospective rain. It was a reflection of someone with no worries in life. A little bit of all of us.
“Yes bachcha (child). Do you need anything?” I enquired. The drizzling increased and rain made its way through.
“No, no…” he replied, and realizing his mistake nodded his little head to request “Can you help me cross the road? I am afraid of the traffic and my friends are on the other side playing in the mud.” He pointed.
Following his gaze, I observed a group of 4 children, covered in mud and unmindful of others were playing with water. Innocence shined bright on their faces.
*I looked back at the boy*.
He was beaming with excitement. Not even an iota of worry on his face. Probably, the thought didn’t cross his mind that I might deny him the privilege to cross the road! (Or maybe he was used to the everyday denial of a passerby).
The rain started pouring in full force. People could be seen running for shelter in every corner. Like ants dispersing on being attacked by a higher prey. Couples ducking under a single umbrella, cars rushing past by, and there remained a group of children and a dubious me.
I didn’t realize when I held his hand, took him to the other end of the road. The cars splashed water by, the 5 children were united again. Even the might of nature could not keep them separated for long. The power of passion.
*Uncle! Won’t you join us?* the child turned around to invite me.
*Me? It’s raining too hard, and I can’t mess my clothes in the mud.* I replied.
*Oh! Don’t worry. Your boss won’t scold you. We only need someone to judge our game.* All five children were up in unison.
I looked around. People were staring at us from the shelters. What would they say? A grown-up playing in the mud, ignorant of his clothes and profile. I looked back at the boy. He still reminded me of someone…
“When was the last time I enjoyed the rain?” I questioned myself. It had been ages when I last had fun without a penny to care about. The impression of my childhood. A life I dearly missed, a time when my creativity spoke for me while my mouth only mumbled.
*I stared back at the children*.
Their innocence bargained me to join them in their holistic ritual. A privilege only a few grown-ups can afford.
It’s in a situation like this when your subconscious dictates your actions, and you figuratively become part of something big.
I joined the children. Guiding them in their quest. For once more in my life, I could be seen jumping in and around a poodle. The rain rejuvenating the dead spark within me.
*I turned around to thank that boy and the children*.
But there were none. I looked around. Strange eyes stared back at me. I stood alone on the streets while it rained.
It suddenly struck me.
Didn’t he remind me of myself?