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CITYSCAPE


by published


Taking my station atop the bridge, which stands tall and firm across the busy thoroughfare, I keep gazing along the length of the street with its multitude of people plying on foot or in vehicles of various colours and sizes, many having company for a conversation and a few other unfortunate ones (or perhaps they are actually the fortunate) left to their own ponderings with no fear of distraction of any kind. Thankfully, I belong to the latter, oblivious to the forms and shapes passing by and beneath, to the numerous contributions of humankind to the din around or to the views that the oddity of a man standing alone, without a trace of haste, amidst the ambience of extreme busyness, might impress upon passers-by who can afford to spare a moment for engaging their minds in thoughts of something other than their own selves. Although I am tired after a hectic day at work, I choose to stand here for a while, tempted by the fascination of contemplating the life and character of the city, which I have been a part of for a good many years; which has seen me go through several ups and downs while coping with a swarm of mingling emotions at every stage.

At the outset, like most other city dwellers, especially those who find themselves irretrievably caught within the barbed fence of sundry circumstances dreaded for making rat races out of lives, I am disposed to think of a big city as a place abounding in hollow shadows, dismal reflections of unrealised hopes and expectations. The moon appears faded and struggles to catch a glimpse of the world beneath as wisps of dark clouds slowly and steadily proceed to shroud almost the whole of its round milky countenance, while the dull night seems to close in upon me as the fresh gust of air, which had been imparting a pleasant tranquilising sensation till sometime before, itself starts gasping for breath and is incapacitated by the ever-increasing volume of traffic all around to carry itself forward any longer.

I clutch the railing against which I have been leaning with slightly trembling hands, engulfed by an overbearing sense of foreboding related to my downwardly progressing career and to the consequent difficulties gradually making themselves felt in my engagements with my near and dear ones, who are very supportive of me notwithstanding. The ground on which my feet are firmly planted seems to be slipping away at a great pace, quite similar to the sand on the seashore during the swift retreat of the water following a wave, leaving drops of perspiration coursing down my forehead and cheeks to my neck.

Shortly afterwards, I am taken by surprise as I unexpectedly become conscious of my soul venturing to manifest to my mind a desire of having a companion at that point of time to whom I could pour my heart out as well as an unfamiliar envy of those on the street underneath who had someone to keep company (the fortunate ones?), both of which have probably been harboured since a long time but which I have always been reluctant to take cognizance of and acknowledge. Even the roadway, stretching itself prostrate for miles so as to serve the thousands who desired to pass over it for journeying to places distant and nearby with diverse intents, begins to assume the form and character of a being so haughty and heartless that it possesses neither the time nor the inclination of pausing even for a moment to enquire after me or about the persuasions which constitute an integral part of my mundane life and the purpose which such a life wishes to attain.

As tiny droplets of rain start descending from the overburdened clouds to the thirsty earth and I, heaving a sigh of despondence, languidly retrace my steps back home, with the unproductive yet satisfying deliberations still working upon my mind with unabated vivacity, my musings are cut short by sights, which are in no way uncommon but which radiate emotions of positivity that often go unnoticed, revealing themselves to my view. A mother striding along the path, dragging her sprightly child behind her and protecting his head from the drizzle with the loose end of her clothing; lovers in the prime of youth standing close together, their arms entwined in each other’s, with the girl laughing away as she recounts some happy tale and the boy regarding her with tender passion exuding from his expressive eyes; a suave gentleman handing a cup of steaming tea to an old man with a haggard face, unkempt hair and tattered clothes crouching on the wet pavement, which imparts to him the bliss and solace that all yearn for.

Such visions lead my contemplations astray and induce them to tread such avenues that awaken in me a realisation that human life, in any place upon this world of ours, has a great deal more to offer than disappointment, discontent and despair arising out of unsuccessful endeavours and unfulfilled anticipations. It is often a grave shortcoming on our part that we fail to turn our broodings from the shadow encompassing us to the source of illumination within ourselves, thereby overlooking the little blessings our lives are endowed with and the numerous other individuals who look up to us as an invaluable presence in their lives.

Eventually, it dawns on me that the busy city street, which has had engrossed my mind for a substantial period of time in attempting to delve deeper into a myriad profound subjects, does bear a striking semblance to the path of life, in that its pursuits put on a façade of ceaselessness and it never seems to reach the destination it seeks amidst the whirlwind of events and activities always afoot centring upon itself. However, it is essentially these seemingly insignificant occurrences – decorations of untainted love, showers of recurring hopes and bestowal of acts of goodness – which institute the driving force of life and infuse life with its real meaning and purpose. This is the reason and motivation behind weary bodies and souls roaming the city in the same manner day after day, grumbling over their humdrum occupations but averse to the possibility of being detached from it at the same time, eager to find ways to appreciate and prioritize the positive aspects of every little thing that presents itself besides perpetually striving to enhance the prospects of leading a better life, the one they have always coveted.