I roam a lot. All day long I keep walking from one place to another. Sometimes, I have gone as far as the university where I had studied several years ago, when I was young and ambitious. I wander everywhere in the university. I don’t just visit my department but go to other departments also which I didn’t do when I was studying. I see all my professors who look much different now, more human. During the time when I was studying, I never felt that they were simple human beings with ordinary worries and responsibilities. I never felt that they had problems too. I never realized that it must have been difficult for them also. This is strange that now when I see them I see just normal human beings. Now I can’t feel that way I used to feel during those days. I am not afraid of them now. I can’t even relate to that fear I possessed during those days. I still do not know what time exactly is, but the way it changes my feelings is so incomprehensible.
I used to ride bicycles in the beginning just after I quit my job. However, later I realized that even on a bicycle it was a bit fast. I needed more slowness to watch, to see things as they were, not to be beguiled by the time. I didn’t want to be trapped in the cage of time. I didn’t want time to rule over my feelings. I wanted to watch my feelings in truthfulness. However, this is amusing that for all this I needed more time, as if to defeat time by time. So, I began walking. I paid attention to everything. Everything that came across me. I would watch a creature as tiny as a beetle walking on its tiniest of legs for hours. I would forget that I was doing it on the road and people were watching me. I think they thought I was going mad. Why would they be so interested in me otherwise? They didn’t say anything but gathered around me to gaze upon what exactly I was trying to do. They wanted to observe how this madness was seeping into me slowly. They waited for my clothes to become dirty, hair to become scurvy. They waited for my pants to slip down on my emaciating waist. They were patient about my growing beard and dying health. But they wanted to watch till the end so that they could go to their work with a free mind. They waited for me to go completely mad so that they could go doing their business undisturbed. Until then they looked at me with surprise, gossiping with one another.
On my walks, I look at the houses, not the new ones which have sprung up lately, instead I take interest in the old decaying ones, the houses which are dying slowly. I relate to them. I am interested in the houses which have seen a lot of madness of the world and now are withering like mad men themselves. I am interested in the houses which have not been painted for long, which carry a damp smell with them. I wonder about the people living in those houses and then I think of myself and that person living in me. I think about the dying man of the dying house. I watch the thin intricate mud trails which have covered the doors of such houses, which are partially eaten by termites. Is time a termite? Who cares if it resembles an artwork.
When I reach home, my wife usually asks me about the job, whether I got one. She has no idea that I don’t go on looking for a job. She likes watching me sleep. Afternoon stillness soothes us both. So I mostly come home in the afternoon. I couldn’t do it when I was working. I like returning when the neighbor’s TV is off and the housewives of the colony are asleep with their new born babies in the darkness of their cool rooms, not allowing even a narrow patch of sunlight to enter their rooms. I like watching the color of the day changing so I don’t close the doors. I see my wife as she comes in the room with washings and opens the door on the balcony. I love watching her as she hangs the clothes on the clothesline. Now and then, the afternoon gets a different shade of color, like a rainbow. The light that filters through my wife’s green sari evokes a dream of having an urban garden, the same gardens I see during my purposeless walks. There’s a huge mango tree and the branches stretch to the windowpane as if they want to enter the room. The mad garden is beautiful. It doesn’t care. It has gone old with the house. The walls are moss laden and the windowpanes are broken and the garden has grown everywhere. I know what people will say, perhaps it has harmed itself by growing like that. I think I quit the job to see this garden in the afternoon. I wanted to see the seasons changing over it. In the office, I hated it when coworkers would come and tell me that it had started raining. Why couldn’t I see how the clouds gather over that garden and how winds bring those dark clouds along with it. Still, I haven’t had enough of it. I’ve roamed all over the city except one place, that is, on the other side of the river. I am not sure how I shall go there. How shall I cross the river. I think I’ll go down into the river and it’ll be choking to cross the river on foot but I know what awaits me on the other shore. I know it is there and I can get it only when I take the plunge.