Wind filled my clothes. Wind coming from my city. It actually wasn’t coming from my city. But it was a pleasant thought. To own those stray winds.
As I approached my Island city, I felt its heat catching on me. In literal sense. The comforting coolness of the hills gave up to the scorching heat of the depleting Ozone and sweat oozed out secretly beneath my clothes. I took a halt and took off my jacket and knotted it around my waist. It was shameful to do this somehow. It reminded me of the advertisement for a Sanitary Napkins where a teenage girl used to testify how her jacket had helped her escape the embarrassment of a stained skirt. I could have avoided if I wanted. But the heat could have boiled me to a softly cooked potato. I lingered for a moment at the halt. As if bidding a farewell to the hills. I knew I had to return to them. Yet this momentary separation was consoling enough. I sat back on the motorcycle and sped towards the boundary of separation of these two zones.
“Piyush….” I had started dubiously, after moving some ten kilometers away from the hill station towards the city. “Arey…I wanted to ask for something” I continued.
“I…can I have your bike for two more days?” I asked stumbling on my words. “I feel like going home….please”
“Of course yaar!...its yours…fuck man…don’t beg you bastard!”
I could have expected this reply if I hadn’t seen Rahul following me. Harshad was slowly tutoring me on loosing my belief in people. I had said ‘please’ for safety. But I am sure Piyush had made his decision before that word.
But I am also sure the line “I feel like going home” had a much larger influence on him. His home was miles away from the weird city. Too far to ride back home. Too far to even think of it. There were moments when even he longed to go back home. Slip into his bed. Cover himself in his bedsheet. Under his fan. And wake up to his mother’s call. Shit in the loo he had been familiar with. Have a breakfast cooked by his mother on his fixed seat on the dining table. Or on the ground before the TV. To fight with his siblings. To meet friends he had left behind. To smoke with those who had taught him smoking, sitting below the Banyan tree. To ride his father’s motorbike through the known lane of his town and whistle at the college going girls clad in Salwar Kameez from neck to toe.
The word 'home' in my sentence must’ve rendered his heart. Dampness gathering in his eyes. Memories of left behind times playing on a reel before his eyes.
His approval was just an affirmation. The momentum which had driven me for ten kilometers would have brought me to my city back. If he hadn’t agreed I would’ve rode back to the weird city again. I had to rest in my city’s arms. To evade this bubble of seclusion that surrounded me.
I had thanked Piyush and resumed my journey.
The board said. 1000 MTS more to enter my city. To cross a creek and enter the island. The island of madness. The Island of life. The island of my home. Once my favourite writer had written in his profile ‘The writer lives on a private Island off the western coast of India’. I always took it as a joke, till I realized it meant a private Island. An Island all to oneself. A feeling of ownership of it. The feeling that you and only you were the Lord of all its corners. And nobody dared challenged your supremacy. The city did give that feeling to you. And I realized this more strongly when the weird city tried establishing its sovereignty over me. I retaliated as anyone from my city did. But the constant feeling of being watched and scrutinized mad me feel pressed under its rule. Though not prominently for being an outsider. But at times for being the son of the same lingual soil. The Island city didn’t do that. No matter where you were from, it accepted you and let you grow in it. It moulded you, chiseled you and made you a winner. A winner of its fate and yours along with it. You didn’t just exist there, you owned it. You ruled it and could exploit it whenever and however you wanted. It was your private island.
And so it was mine. I just shared it with three crore more people. And my favourite author of course. Our private Island.
The excitement to reach home had driven me almost two hundred kilometers like a wind. It had taken me away momentarily from the incidences in last days. I was one with the bike. It is amazing to know how a machine and a human blend with each other at such times. Another example could be shooting I think. A man and a gun blending into each other.
I had rode continually through the distance, with only two tiny halts. But I wasn’t exhausted. I was going home.
I cross the toll post. I enter my domain. A half an hour ride more and I would be reclining lazily on the sofa.
As I waited for each signal to turn green, I looked at the houses along the highway. Houses full of light. Houses full of action. Houses full of people. Homes.
I get crave to reach home more at the sight of each of these homes. They remind me of my home. The lights. The people and the action.
I cross the last signal. The traffic is well behaved than what I have been seeing in the weird city during the days I spend there. I neatly steer my vehicle with the lot. I take the turn.
The last turn. The last turn before home…