Summer of April is always better than the summer of May and the latter is always better than summer of June. Summer of July is worst, it burns the synthetic fabric which then melts and gets stuck to the vest and leave its colour there, like a stamp of authority, as if the vest belongs to the shirt, as if the shirt forgets who’s its master for a while in the heat of the sun.
There’s a reason why cotton is costlier than synthetic, it minds its own business, doesn’t interfere in anyone else’s business, doesn’t get attached to any other fabric. Cotton is the buddha of the fabric universe.
Roshan loved wearing cotton shirts to school. He hated his school though. The school management had small vans which were overcrowded most of the time. Kids have a beautiful thing about them, they don’t judge each other and can share a ride with anyone. Also, they have small asses, so one could seat three kids in the place of two and sometimes even four. Everything that seems fun in the beginning becomes unbearable after a while. First came the suffocation and children began to cry their lungs out. Roshan complained to his parents about it, his mother sent an email to the principal demanding better facilities for her son. The school management required three new buses, they purchased one and things went along fine for the time being. Roshan dreaded the one hour he had to spend in the bus after school but eventually, like all bad things in life, he got used to it. The bus drivers had clear instructions to drop children on their building entrances, so they don’t get lost even if their parents weren’t there to pick them up from the bus.
One afternoon, as the bus drove ahead after Roshan stepped out and waved greetings to his friends, he saw two sparrows appearing from under the bus, lying in the middle of the road. Intuitively, he started walking towards the sparrows before a loud shreik from his mother stopped him.
“Roshan! Are you mad! Look at the traffic!”
“Look, there are sparrows on the road ma!”
“Let them be, come, let’s go”, his mother dragged him by his hand and took him inside the building. They lived on the second floor, with the balcony facing towards the road. As soon as they entered the apartment, Roshan ran towards the balcony and stood there, looking down at the sparrows.
“Are they dead?” he shouted from the balcony.
“It’s hot these days na Roshan! Poor sparrows have no homes.”
“Why don’t we keep them in our homes?”
“Sparrows don’t like homes like these. They prefer nests.”
“But how…when will they make nests if they keep lying on the roads like this. They will die ma. Some car will crush them under its wheel.”
“May be they are already dead.”
“So what? Is it good to leave dead sparrows lying on the road? What if you were lying there in place of the sparrows and nobody picked you up, or worse, crushed you under their wheel?”
“Roshan!” Her hand stopped midway. Roshan glared at her and then turned his head towards the road again to look at the sparrows.
“God made sparrows, let Him save them too”, she said. He didn’t say anything in reply. The conversation was over.
Salesmen are like sparrows too. They don’t bother about the burning sun or the dampening rain or the raging storm, they have to go out and sell. Viren sucked at selling. He knew he wasn’t made to sell. He was made to express, to talk, to dance among friends, to get drunk and cry over the mistakes of his life, to make people think what they were doing with their precious lives, to ignore the fucked up present and to dream about the perfect future, to keep faith in himself and go on dreaming without ever making a list of his dreams because making list meant he would have to tick it off one by one and right now, he neither had time nor resources to live the life of his dreams.
He was trying his best though, to sell. He would drive all day and meet tens of purchase managers, pitching his company, pitching his products, submitting prices, presenting quotes, following up on leads as well as the dead leads, he seldom gave up.
The company had given him a car and he made full use of it, transporting people from one place to another for free, talking to them, knowing their stories, tellling them his.
He was driving at about 80 kmph when he noticed a sparrow lying on the road, directly ahead of the right tyre of his car. He pressed the emergency light button and turned his steering right, he looked in the back mirror to see the sparrow saved from being crushed under the tyre. As soon as he looked ahead, he saw another sparrow and swayed left this time. His heart skipped a beat. Were those sparroes alive? Thirsty? They would die definitely if they kept lying on the road like this. They were probably dead already. He turned right at the next intersection and followed the road to take another right to come infront of the same route that he passed couple of minutes ago. He saw a parking space at his right and quickly parked his car. He ran towards the main road hoping that the sparrows were still alive. He looked at the road from the footpath. He could see both sparrows still lying on the road. He ran towards the first one. A Nissan Armada passed by him at around 100 kmph and crushed the first sparrow under its tyres. Viren stopped short and looked at the second sparrow. The car passed just inches away from the second sparrow. He looked behind, it was a busy road and cars came speeding in at the road. He wanted to save the second sparrow atleast. Next moment, he stepped on the road with his hands held up in the air and started running towards the second sparrow. Behind him, horns went blazing, signalling him from a distance to step aside but he kept on his path. Tyres screeched behind him and vehicle came to a halt, behind him several vehicles lined up and the busy road suddenly went berserk with horns glaring all over, catching attention of the shopkeepers on the roadside. In the adjoining lanes, drivers crossed him, blazing horns at him as they went and shouting at him to get aside.
He reached at the sparrow, sat down, picked it up only to realize that it was already dead. He stepped aside, the arab behind him shouted at him something in Arabic, he didn’t pay heed to him. He kept tossing the sparrow in his hand, hoping the jerks would bring it back to consciousness but the sparrow lay still in his hands. He placed the sparrow beside a shrub near the pathway and looked at it. It lay still, lifeless. He was dejected, not because the sparrows died but that humans have no value for the life of any other species. Do sparrows deserve to be crushed under the car tyres? Couldn’t anybody stop and picked them up and placed them at the roadside before him? Hurt and broken, he looked up.
There was a kid standing at the balcony, looking at him. The kid was smiling at him, Viren shook his head, the kid showed him a thumbs up, he showed the kid a thumbs up in return and left.
मैं अपने घर को सलीके से सजाउंगा, उस घर में उड़ते परिंदों को जगह दूंगा,
खुदा को ढूंढने नहीं निकलूंगा कहीं, खुदा के बंदों से मग़र हर रोज़ मिला करूंगा,
मज़हब? मैं मज़हब ज़िंदगी को बना लूंगा और इंसानियत पर फ़िर मज़हब भी लुटा दूंगा।
–Inspired by a true event.
–Poetry by Nisha Mishra