Life is idle here, and so is the cold February morning. A wistful crow caws nearby. A man sits under a mango tree camouflaged in a cheap green sweater. A black dog sleeps some distance away from his feet. He is keeping an ear out for the occasional stray animal or person. The world around us is silent, the calm so palpable that it is almost overbearing.
A man is seen around the bend, pedalling his cycle towards us with a stack full of newspapers. The dog raises his head, but quickly slips back into his morning marmalade of sleep; the man on the cycle seems reasonably familiar. The newspaper man, skids to a halt at the base of the terse staircase, flexes his muscle without breaking eye contact and delivers a newspaper almost as swiftly as he turns his bicycle around to disappear around the bend. He is at the vanguard of ruin; he is at the forefront of the rest of the world.
Rustling of pages, a ‘bhajan’ being sung in the distance, restrained violence on a tranquil morning. The man under the tree is restless. He too walks to the bend and disappears; at the periphery of our subdued existence. Only the birds seem to turn back from the bend. The sun tires and goes back to sleep. And the dog is asleep no more.
I am in a village at the end of a very long drive from the city. I am at a place where people come to die. I am at a place where people come to live. The city so far behind that it seems like a disfigured, dysfunctional phantasmagoria. The only thing believable about its existence is my own sanity. The village is named after Ganga and many have come here long before me to find their salvation; to question their sanity.
You must look long and hard and not even blink. You just might miss the occasional human trespasser. Civilization is minimum, the humanity minimalistic. This is the human inhabitation where nature is God and the world an oxymoron; an oxymoron of violence and peace.
A cloud of red dust at the bend, the world keeps getting smaller and quieter. It is time. It is time for me to disappear around the bend.