It was 6PM on a Tuesday in the month of July.
He stood on the divider between Pusa Road in central Delhi, waiting for his turn to cross the road along with the other pedestrians who stood alongside him. The road, where drivers never pushed the breaks to let anyone pass through the road, waiting for their own turns to make it out of the traffic roadblock which never ceased on that particular stretch, was filled with the regular Tuesday evening noise of loud vehicle horns, with a deep rumbling of the metro train passing overhead, accompanied with the mixed yells of the street vendors and rickshaw-pullers inviting buyers and travelers to buy the cheapest of street-food and to be taken to the nearest markets and hospitals. The divider carried the heavy smell of the sweating shirts and kurtis the pedestrians wore along with a smoke that came from the destitute old man who had decided to lie down on the divider and sell stolen pen-drives to everyone who passed by.
As he finally squeezed his way through the cars on the road and made it to the other side, Vivek had come to the realization that there was absolutely no point in trying to make it through life as it was. He remembered the morning of the same day with a slight shudder; someone had pinched his bottom while trying to pickpocket his wallet away on the bus that morning, while in the train journey that followed, the air-conditioning had started to leak on the top of his head, after which the train had hit a “technical snag” which had delayed the journey by ten minutes. This had led to him reaching his workplace late and he had found his manager in a particularly grumpy mood. What troubled him even more, after the day had almost come to an end, was that all of this was so usual that it failed to produce even a single wrinkle on his head while he went through it all.
It was just how commonplace everything had become. The 9 to 5 seemed like all that existed; the rest of the time was spent trying to survive, cooking food and setting up the bed to get as much as sleep as possible so as to be active enough for the 9 to 5. But those hours did not really matter to him either; it was all survival, but if then if all his time went in looking for ways to survive, what was the point to survival at all?
He walked aimlessly, and in no time the sky was dark. The road still sounded the same and Wednesday couldn’t matter any less to him. When he realized he had stepped into some puddles that the rains last night had left and might have caught shoe bite, he sat down on the pavement, not caring about having to wash his pants later. He suddenly felt the humble touch of raindrops on his head, hands, and legs. In no time, it was pouring and he felt the water trickle to the inside of his clothes and soothe the skin that felt stretched and burnt with the noise of the day.
He looked at the people rushing to find shelter, the same people who had perhaps been praying for some rain when the sun was high. Soaked to the end, he felt as if the cold water had entered his head and was rushing down to his lungs, cleansing him of the existence of the commonplace.
– Ishita Pasricha