Traffic Signal

A traffic signal, Red Light.
Yellow headlights, crimson taillights, the smell of burnt petrol, sultry heat, sweat, the cacophony of horns, cry of street urchins and the noisy debate at the parliament in the trees… birds.
I sit in that auto rickshaw, the seat vibrates under me, life in the non-living and the driver fiddles with the five rupee coin in his hand muttering about the absence of change.

Silently, I agree.

And the young boy to my right is on his phone with a girl he wishes would talk to him just one last time…
And the man on the other side inhales the acrid smoke from his cigarette and lets it out…rings they melt into the air.
And he is no singer, his voice husky, pitch-imperfect, he hums, “Dariye acho tumi amar gaaner opare…”
( You stand there just beyond the reach of this song my heart sings…)
And his left hand taps on his trouser clad thigh…rings, solid and there.

The speeding auto roars like an angry bull jumps the signal and then…
Then it skids and overturns.
No not the one I sit inside, it is the one that had been behind us. I turn around and crane my neck to see the chaos.

A sudden quiet in the midst of commotion.

The man has stopped singing, the boy has stopped pleading and the auto driver has stopped grumbling.

Hurt but not fatally. They will be alright.

The light turns green and  our auto purrs to life again.
And the lady in the front seat finally speaks,”Thank God that that didn’t happen to us.”

Silently, I agree.

And the man laughs humourlessly, inhales from his cancer stick and lets it out… rings that dissolve into nothing.
“Dariye acho tumi amar gaaner opare…”
( You stand there just beyond the reach of this song my heart sings…)

 

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