There’s pain in the left shoulder. It starts as the arm moves up, showing up just as it gets orthogonal with it. The doctor gave some fancy term. Happens due to stress and the “software job”, he said. He got up un-self consciously and demonstrated some exercises. Do it twice a day, each time half an hour. I wanted to laugh when I heard “half an hour”. There were meds prescribed too. Some Calcium and Vitamin E and some painkillers when the pain becomes unbearable. I refuse the meds, take the ointment. “Have only Rs. 200” in my pocket I reason.
The long walk in the burning summer Sun to the ATM yields nothing. People walk in and walk out, and just before my turn two employees go in and the door is closed and a curtain drawn. The frail security guy with a single-bore gun stands guard. “Will be another half an hour” he declares. There wasn’t much hope anyway when I walked up to it. One of those that has never worked. The door is usually apart, the floor strewn with receipts which people discard away, having no choice to decline it, the garbage bin overflowing with more receipts. The A/C sends out droll warm air with grinding effort. This time, there is no looking inside to hear that noise or check the floor. Am out, back in the sun, making the walk to the hospital, with only Rs. 200 in my pocket.
I sit through Mysore road traffic, the car AC the only relief. I can see the smoke from the buses, the autos and the trucks hovering by to replace the canopy that was cut down a long time back. The radio has been turned off – all stations yielding only ads. Even the songs seem from a different era, one that I’ll never inhabit – the future. The road has disappeared. There were bombings a few days back leaving massive craters for buses to enter in and exit out, disappearing from view for a while. Imagination runs wild and I am forced to bring myself back. There is an auto on the left getting too close and the Santro behind wants to squeeze through from the right. A truck wants to get too close and comfy behind me, honking away to glory. The craters are getting bigger and deeper in front.
I make it to Chamarajpet. The metro construction blocks off the side to KR Road. I take a left there to enter Fort High School. Cops guard the entrance to the venue and shoo me off. The next door parking lot gate is closed. “Go straight and take left” a policeman’s advice. I continue further. The entire stretch has cars parked bumper-to-bumper. I turn left as advised. There are more cars parked bumper-to-bumper. I go all the way to Minto and take a left. Chamarajpet 3rd Main offers some solace. Am the sole car there. No “No parking” boards nearby. I look around. The spot where it all began. There are trucks and their offices now, where once was Jubilee Nursing home with a fish tank in front with no water in it. “There used to be fish and I used to watch them” my brother used to say. Only trucks there, taking over every one of your senses.
Am late for the concert already. Aruna Sairam leaps from her perch before settling back as if she remembered something. I stop observing her, closing my eyes. The voice is raw, the Raagam unknown. The violin keeps up and she gives it its due from time to time. It takes a while. The nerves settle. The cat that doesn’t drink milk, the shoulder that keeps aching, the distance from everything that I want that grows with more traffic jams and constructions. Everything forgotten.
Thank God for little mercies and Fort High School concerts.