Banganga, the steps

The water is dirty. It’s sparse, murky and definitely not worth getting into.

But the steps are home.

Kids on one end play games on them, the elders ignore the steps while walking on them, even the weeds stay in the water. None seem to want them

Till I sit down and really look.

The ducks wade through the green-tinged waters, get to the shore and climb the steps one by one. On each one, they sit and explore before moving on to the next.

Nobody watches them, not even from the houses that surround us. They can be summed up as small, really small things out in the open pretending to be houses.

But there is a little boy along with his mother who seems fascinated by the ducks. His mother is not fascinated by his fascination — she wants him to see the beauty on the banks and the steps. He clearly does not, as he wails to join his ducks. If she isn’t to give him his ducks, he points to the safety of his skyscrapers, where they live, right behind the banks. Not for him the squalor, the noises, the grime and poverty that surround them. In the end, the mother loses her patience and leads him away as he cries for his ducks, who still walk the banks.

There are others on the banks. A father and daughter sit and munch groundnuts while giggling away. A young man sits in a huddle, one arm nestles his neck and cradles his face. The face tells me it is lost in a world that the young man visits often at these very steps.

Unlike him, there is another who sits on the steps. The young housewife is a little away from us. The steps let her sit carefree, even defiant, sticking her legs out as she coos into her mobile, carefree, ignoring the water below and claiming her space unmindful of others.

For me, there are other sounds and images — too many to be counted. Images of a life lead in hurry and sounds of constant strife and worry. The water holds a mirror to the daily grind pulling everyone and everything into it’s dark abyss of nothing. The water is not for me.

But the steps hold a promise.

The steps hold a promise that I know will come true with time. The steps tell me I can visit and sit, and lose these very images that haunt me. That I can create my own banks, my own steps, my own images in crystal-clear waters.

And they promise me silence. There shall be noises, there shall be voices and yet, there will silence. The silence that holds my hand and helps me swim through the very images that it helped create. I shall deep dive and drink, the images gushing within then filling my lungs, my mind, my heart. Then you shall slink in bliss to be lost forever. And yet rise again.

For this, I shall visit these steps again.

Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

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