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Addicted to Win - Visitor's Poem

by Krupa Balani
(Gujarat, India)

Somehow – today, on this Christmas Eve, I miss my bus-stand.
You should hear how I lived in Mumbai during and after my hostel life
I thought those were the saddest parts of my life
But, funnily - today I am craving for those moments!
In this emptiness of silence, I reminisce those moments.
Sometimes - it’s worth looking back over the shoulder.

You are the only one I would share with
So rest assured it will come to you only - if not in full, then in bits and pieces
Just as I use to wander in those lanes meaninglessly to smell and search for bits and pieces of my childhood!

Those chilling winds.....
No mobiles!
No worries!
No commitments!
Just me and my ciggie!
Commitments are scary- yeah, when you are not able to sit on them comfortably.
Continuously for three years I passed my new year's eve sitting on the round metal bar of that bus-stand
Smoking a whole pack of ciggie...
Care free....
Free of charge....
Liberated!
I watched the buses coming and going.
Passengers with different motives, different reasons, different destinations
Boarding and deboarding
the only constant factor being the eyes of bus driver and conductor - flat and uninterested!
You know - there is a peculiar way of sitting on those bus-stand bars –
Legs stretched on the cement wall facing the road and butt on the round bar –
Which makes one shift every fifteen minutes?
I wonder if those times can be termed heaven......
I really want to go back there and sit till the night gives birth to a new sun.
That loneliness was harmony!

I also miss my escapades.
When I wandered the city in local buses or trains - all on my own.
Aimlessly!
With no direction!
With no purpose!
My face inadvertently turned towards a house to catch a glimpse of one familiar face
– In vain
silently I would walk away – alone – through the length of my suburb
– A stretch of four kilometres.
Then turn and walk around the same stretch and the same lanes - doing nothing!
Just think walking - is this is called life?
Meaningless and futile?

For a change, sometimes I would take the main highway footpath to feel the difference.
Hoping to come across some familiar faces in the crowd – in vain.
I also remember my friend’s mother - slim, tall and bony - a typical Jain lady- with a shinning nose-pin on her long face.

All non-important, but, integral memories.

One was my cafe - my joint - my favourite haunt!
When not thinkwalking - I parked myself there.
Smoking and drinking cutting chais - without paying
As if was a nice friend - a legacy of friendship from my dad and his.
It was a typical ‘Irani Hotel’- marble tables and wooden carved chairs
I entered the cafe with a hearty and familiar greeting of asalam waleykum
Taking a ciggie from his counter – I settled in my usual chair at the end of the hotel corner
As if and I chatted about nothing - and yet, we talked
I learned urdu: arehmat - ul – allah! insha-allah! Shabbakheir!
Now you know my secret!
An inclination towards ‘Kuran’ comes from this friend.
After one or two ciggies, I would again go for my thinkwalk – in feeble hope that I may meet some familiar face
But not one.
Once a week I would always made it a point to round up at Fashion Street.
No money in my pocket -
I just scrutinized what was "in"
Other cherished memory is when I used to go with uncle to his shop, ostensibly to help him
There I would have a tea break around 5.30pm and walk down the lane to ‘Hotel Popular’
Royally I would enter the restricted area of BAR - all dimly lit and air-conditioned.
I would order a tea and bread butter after a ciggie, to make my breathe tobacco free
I watched TV for a good twenty minutes, paid my bill, ate a Halls
and waited for the day to fade in darkness.
On my way back home - sitting in the front seat, I watched people, so called winners - driving their own vehicles, and would dream....
One day... Yes- one day I will own this dream – I shall be the one addicted to win!
How and when? I had no answer then.
I just wanted to be good and great!
After home and dinner, I waited for the clock to hit 10pm.
My wanderlust would make me move out for the same old routine of thinkwalking.
Sleep came with the same thoughts - what's next?

Today I have grown.
Or
Have I grown?
I wonder!

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