A Lesson from the Streets

-Sera Grace John, II B.A. English

Last year I used to walk nearly one kilometer to college, mornings and afternoons. The mornings were lazy, but the cool breeze made it worthwhile. The silence was interrupted by few speeding BMWs and Audis on the streets and barking dogs. The afternoons were a lot busier and annoying with traffic along the road and the sun to tan you from tip to toe! On the way, you saw parents from apartments clamoured on one side of the road, holding their children’s bags, gossiping, throwing occasional glances at their wrists and looking at the road every now and then for the yellow school bus while the children were busy boasting about winning some game.

A stark distinction could be seen between the cushioned life of the corporate employees who jogged along the road to shed the extra fat from last night’s pizza and street vendors pushing carts which were arranged with different things to earn a few rupees during the day. A common chord they shared was that all of them had a roof above their heads, though the size and style was different.

One day while returning from college I noticed a person with a different lifestyle. I saw him in an auto one afternoon, in an auto driver’s attire. He was simply killing time by counting the number of cars passing by and humming to himself, from the driver’s seat. The next day, I saw the same person in the same clothes and his auto parked at the same pavement. But unlike the previous day, he was meddling with a mobile while his shirt hung on the seat. For a few weeks together, I saw him in the same way. Some days he was hungrily eating a meal in the back seat and on other days, washing his face and feet on the road from a mineral water bottle.

Only then I realised that the vehicle was his mobile house and he slept in the narrow back seat and made his living with the same. He seemed to be a nomad in the city; travelling places and finding home wherever he went. One seat, one uniform, one meal and one pavement to park his haven was all that he seemed to need! The number plate was his address and the three wheeled vehicle, his home.

I felt little. I have a home to call mine, a flat abroad where my parents stay and a hostel to sleep in and still grumble about the lack of facilities in my hostel room. That room is probably the size of Birla’s storeroom and catered to seven people. We found it really difficult to organise things and all our efforts to be lavish in the limited space were futile. We aren’t happy about it and keep ranting and ‘blessing’ our warden every time a spoon went missing and failed to find it in the messy room or when the study table had to become a dining table.

But this middle aged man’s abode made me think twice before whining about a small hostel room. I learned that you can have big things in life and still be sad about what you don’t have or instead have small, meaningful things and still smile contently. The choice is always ours.


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