This week's words:
Flesh; noun: The soft substance consisting of muscle and fat that is found between the skin and bones of an animal or a human; the pulpy substance of a fruit or vegetable, esp. the part that is eaten; the skin or surface of the human body with reference to its color, appearance, or sensual properties; verb: Put weight on; add more details to something that exists only in a draft or outline form.
Novice; noun: A person new to or inexperienced in a field or situation; a person who has entered a religious order and is under probation, before taking vows; an animal, especially a racehorse, that has not yet won a major prize or reached a level of performance to qualify for important events.
Sear; verb: Burn or scorch the surface of (something) with a sudden, intense heat; (of pain) be experienced as a sudden, burning sensation; brown (food) quickly at a high temperature so that it will retain its juices in subsequent cooking.
Traffic on that Monday morning seemed unbelievably heavy with packed school vans and cars honking. The mini-rickshaw drivers were the happiest of the lot. Passengers began to mount their rickshaws like hordes of rats mesmerized by the pied piper. Novice drivers were being harassed by for their driving skills by truck drivers and car drivers alike. A soft breeze flew in the opposite direction carrying with it the sweetness of summer dawn. I shifted my gaze since there was nothing interesting about the traffic. My eyes caught a tall lean figure squatting on the road, dressed in a somewhat odd manner. At that far a distance I could only make out her bright canvas like dress. I began to count the number of colors in her dress, the background was mainly orange. As the car moved closer towards her, the details began to become clear. Green leaves, red large flowers, pink little flowers and brown creepers. Her salwar seemed more like a artist's canvas. She wore a waist band, it seemed hand made royal blue and bright. Above that she wore a shirt, a collared one, worn out and seemed like a splatter of white on a red canvas. The artist must been having a bad day when he did this one! My morning was getting better by the minute... But by the time I could catch a glimpse of the lady's face who had fascinated me, the car sped away to catch up with the rest of the world.
I hoped to watch out for her on my way back home. The day went along smoothly and the tramp almost disappeared from my mind among the mundane activities of life. Strange it seemed, when I think of it now. How did those colors disappear into a sea of nothingness! And how ordinary a thing it had seemed back then that I forgot to watch out for her on my way back.
The next day from far off I could make out her striking figure and was hoping for a better view. Miraculously the car stopped right in front of her and I almost stared shamelessly. For the first time her towering height alarmed me and so did her disoriented expressions. The flesh of her body was in the right proportions, she wasn't too plump nor too lean. It didn't seem to her that she lived on the streets. She held a cup of chai and looked around as if she owned the whole place. I was rather confused by her actions. I couldn't take my eyes off her and decided to make her the chief subject of my study for a while. The car raced off again but today she lingered a while in my thoughts. What surprised me was her pride? She wasn't running a marathon race like the rest of us. Instead she was enjoying her relaxed walk of life. There's nothing philosophical about it. I wouldn't call her a saint, but she was definitely human. I made it a habit to watch her everytime I passed that way. That was almost everyday. My 'subject' I noticed was homeless but not a beggar. She lived in a world of her own. She sometimes cooked by the fire she made by the side of the road. I have seen her sear food and the aroma filling up the place. When I began my inquiries about her, nearby neighbors and shopkeepers, told me the simple story of her life. She has been living near this highway since thirty years. She doesn't trouble anyone. She does not create a menace. So the locals began to provide her with lunch and dinner. They even believed that she proved a lucky charm to the whole locality. Shopkeepers would persuade her to step into their shops. But she seemed agitated at the strange intrusion. She constantly talked to herself, in what seemed like a foreign language. She very rarely spoke in the local language.
Watching her daily became a favorite passtime to me. She seemed to roam like a queen in her garden. A calmness resided within her. But I always wondered what drove her to live on the streets. Was she deceived in life by family? Was she a failed artist? Her personality always suggested to me that circus would have been an interesting profession. Her clothes also seemed to suggest the same. At times I also wondered if she was a warrior princess. Must have got weary with all the violence and war and decided to spend the rest of life peacefully.
The scorching sun in summer, blossoming flowers of spring and withering trees of winter all seemed to be her companions. Seasons changed, positions of the ruling planets changed, fates of people changed. My life changed. From being a student, then a wife and later a mother. The tramp always remained at the back of my mind. She was a great teacher of life. Someday I would definitely walk up to her and talk to her...
But this morning, I am happy enough to watch her through my glass.