Run Run Run!

I was on the run again. I don’t know why I used “again” here. You need to stop a particular activity, do something else, and then resume the first one to use the term “again”. It’s clearly wrong here as I don’t remember ever doing anything other than run.

There are corridors. There are always corridors. There are windows all along on the sides. Each window different from the other, but you notice patterns, repeating patterns. You pay attention and they separate, you keep looking ahead or at some point in front of you and they coalesce into one pattern. Like looking at poles on the sides of railway tracks.

The corridors end, there is a door. You get a few seconds to catch your breath. Panting, you open the door, and then start the run again. It’s another corridor, identical windows on each side. They seem different, but as you look back, you don’t find them any different from the previous ones. Soon the corridors also coalesce and become different stations on the path of your train. Different names, different people getting in and getting out. But they all look and feel the same. That same chai shop, that book shop, the one selling samosas.

I feel someone chasing me. He wasn’t there earlier. Just someone who turned up a few corridors back. I don’t know who he is, but I know I don’t want to stop and find out. I know I don’t want to meet him. I run, but not faster, as I can neither increase nor decrease my pace.

Am at the end of a corridor now. A double door exit looms ahead. The doors are bigger, and look thicker. Darker, as if made of rosewood. There are golden carvings, ivy descending from the top, midget Banyan trees on both of them, reflecting off each other as if a mirror is between the two.

I catch hold of the handle-knob, twist it and push open the right door. It’s another corridor. The chaser feels closer now. I know he’ll gain on me, it’s imminent. But for know, I’ll continue to run. I’ll run because that’s all I know, cos that’s all am programmed to do.

Ugh! Another year! Well have a good one while at it!

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Imtiaz…

It was around the Monsoons of 1978. He had given up smoking on the 15th of August after the loss of a relative. The days were cloudy and gloomy and the mood stormy. The withdrawal was tougher than he had imagined but he held fast. And then there was also Imtiaz.

He was his boss’s driver. Young, energetic, talkative, with a cheeky grin and a severe lack of discipline he said was part of that religion. Most days, the boss left Imtiaz and his car with him to be sent on errands to collect overdue payments from the petrol pump customers. Most of the time he came back with a smaller amount saying that’s all he managed. All the time, he lambasted him for the obvious pilfering, for not turning up on time, for not talking properly, for not doing as he was told. “Get out! Don’t stand in front of me!” he would scream. An hour or two later, he’d cool down and look for Imtiaz. And he’d be there at the door with a “salaam saab” and a cheeky smile. He asked him his age, like he would of all Muslim workers in their employ and would get a “gothilla saab” with a smile. “They never know their age” he’d laugh and order coffee for himself and tea for Imtiaz.
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