I stare out of the bus with neither my gaze particularly fixed nor my thoughts transfixed. A breeze of calm, howling winds of despondency, simultaneously, pacify, agitate me. I lose the thread of thoughts in my mind. I lose the reason for the agitation and the peace. I ponder. Train of thoughts continues to run. I wish I could unearth the reason for my thoughts so. One possibility, I grasp, from these flashing thoughts-Is my agitated mind a spur for the soothing breeze that suddenly begins howling destructively once its former self calmed my mind? Why is my mind creating a paradoxical hallucination?
The street-lights like beacon of long lost hope hang above, while a blanket of mist envelopes the illumination. They stand grim and the Gulmohar trees, now, put on a shade of black, the darkest possible, save at places where the lights are successful in impinging their glow. A yellow-orange merges with the black on the trunks showing the knotty folds on them. The mellow yellow-orange absorbed by the canopy, each branch competing out of selfishness, aided by the night wind, proudly parade the green. The ochre, the green, the yellow and the encompassing black remind me of something, of that I am certain, but I fail to decipher the nibble of memory. Voices, in uneven cadences, begin taking shape in my mind. Laughter I hear, gentle and low. I catch a breath, a conversation. The voices disappear to reappear again.
The earphones plugged on to my ears are playing the regular numbers. But I have been barely listening to the songs. Radio began as an entertainment, underwent a cruel metamorphosis to an addiction and addiction grew into a means to shut the voices inside my head. But I was and still am unsuccessful. And here I am returning from office on a Volvo bus rushing through the streets of Bengaluru, my adopted city. I look, absorbing the view outside, inside the vehicle. No different, I exclaim, and uninterestedly open my book to close it quickly, dejectedly, carefully placing the bookmark. I stare out again. A car takes over a bike. I notice the motorist drumming his fingers on the steering wheel when a dreadful red signal at the crossroads stops the commute for a while. We resume at the green signal and we part ways. The mist grows heavier every minute collimating the brilliant beams of light of every passing vehicle into dancing discs of yellow and red, that grows and then recedes. Hoardings, cleverly angled, show larger than life faces of flawless men and women, flawless smiles and flawless skin. Some old hoardings, unattended over months, flap in the wind crying for attention, reminiscing their erstwhile glory. December is mildly cold for the otherwise temperate Bengaluru unlike home where winter months were gruesome. Another speeding vehicle, honking aloud, brushes past the bus and commuters inside turn their heads, mechanically, and turn away. Apart eateries life has paused for most stores. Half past nine. I see people in little pockets eating, ordering, laughing, camaraderie. A couple of couples stand aloof from the crowd in their own little world. Companionship!
The moving pictures rush past my eyes and I gaze persistently. I realize, suddenly, that I am unable to discern the fast moving images outside; the accelerating bus merges the ghost of the previous image with a precursor of the next and makes the continuity discontinuous. My mind refuses to put a break to the thoughts and my eyes uncannily well up. Radio fails to tether my wild thoughts. There is commotion around me, earphones blaring music onto my ears, the fleeting scenes reduce to streaks of colours predominated by black, my mind refuses to rest and an eerie silence engulfs me, like the mist, transforming me into an indiscernible mass. I slither into emptiness and my existence diminishes with every foot that I fall. Willingly I submit to the free fall, I fall gently, I fall fast, I fall through vacuum and I am suddenly awakened into reality as the conductor announces my stop. I rush out packing by book, tugging my jacket to merge into the moving world.