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 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 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 a 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.
There innocence bargained me to join them in their holistic ritual. A privilege only a few grown up 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 streets while it rained.
It suddenly struck me.
Didn’t he reminded of myself?