Pedalling the cycle in a rhythmic motion, Aunty Ji moved ahead towards a destination unknown to me. I saw her through the bus window and I don’t remember her face clearly.
She was wearing a dull purple sari; now was the sari actually light in colour or was it the hand-washing that the sari went through for infinite times that made it dull, I have no idea about it.
Her complexion was rough. Her hands, arms, and neck looked very rough; and rough not because her skin was bad or simply dry, but rough in a sense that reflected how hard she has worked for ages and how hard she will work for ages.
The skin was rough and dry because the sun rays befriended it; the sun rays and the burnt skin smiled together whenever they met.
She also wore a chain. She was married. She was bulky, but not because she was lethargic or slow, it was the birth of her three or four children that left her on a heavy side; and also the fact that she rarely got any time for herself.
However, she did take two minutes in the morning to dress up, apply powder, bindi, and comb her hair, she enjoyed these two minutes every day.
I didn’t know where she was going to or coming from, what was in her mind – capitalism, liberalism or food, what was her religion – Hinduism, Christianity or food, what was her educational qualification – was she a maid, a saleswoman or a sole breadwinner of a family, what did she know about the world – about global warming, the war/peace game and the wastage of food, and that whether being a human being was she even aware of her life’s higher purpose, was she following a godly Saint or a reasonable atheist, a complex God or a straightforward Holy Text?
I am not sure about anything and nor am I interested to be. Because she was cycling in rhythm and I connected with her as did the wind.
She was nothing extraordinary and almost obscurely invisible. She camouflaged with the out-of-city-region-before-entering-the-proper-country-area perfectly.
Yet she was the most alive person there – the Skylark of the sky and the Albatross of the ocean. She was the solution to the puzzle; she was the answer to the riddle.
Amusingly, she carried the answer and the solution in her bun- the lively, fresh orange flowers. There were two or three orange flowers, beautifully and so neatly pinned to the bun that even the speed breakers were unable to disturb the setting.
The orange flowers – what was the type I don’t remember – were fresh and sweetly orange in colour. The orange flowers hummed a soothing tune. Oh! It was melodious, it was magical, I can’t explain in words…it was a feeling.
A strong, but a fleeting one. And after all, I had just seen a glimpse of Aunty Ji.
I was inside the bus and we passed her and many other bicycle riders.
Everyone moving towards an end, busy garnering their life without truly perceiving it.
She possibly was ignorant, out-dated and wronged, still she had found a way that was orange in colour and alive and quiet and true.