A few days back I went to my office for an implementation. I had to reach office at 6 am which meant I had to leave home at around 4:45. The cab driver woke me up at 4.10 am because he could not find my home and I ended up being his GPS for the next 15 minutes and choked on my toothbrush in the process.
As I sat in the car and covered the distance to my office in 1 hour which I usually cover in 2 hours during peak rush hour, I felt disoriented. Dawn looked like a struggle to me. I hadn’t experienced Delhi in this light. I was expecting at least a façade of calmness.
The streetlights were wrestling with the Sun to maintain their dominion over the roads. I saw them fight a losing battle as the Sun attacked the roads the streetlights had held with such élan all night. It was a clash the streetlights fought and lost every day but that never dissuaded them from putting up a worthy fight.
There were hoards of trucks on the roads, especially on the highway and the Ring road. The car looked like a petrified deer passing through a herd of elephants. The driver was doing his best to remain wide awake, popping out his eyes and alarmingly touching them to the windshield.
A tired truck driver stopped his truck in a corner of the road, stepped down and laid on the footpath. He covered himself with the quilt of the bright yellow glow of the streetlight. He could not bear the weariness anymore. He had to sleep before he could carry on with his nomadic life. I looked at him and thought – he must be bone tired. How else can someone sleep on a stone? I wished I could turn off the streetlight but the Sun was already winning the war.
Traffic policemen were stopping random trucks trying to collect money for the future of their children. There was no remorse – only the crunching sound of a bigger fish eating a smaller one. Morality looked like a fish bone stuck in their throat. They either had to spit it out or die. In a way, the truck driver and the policeman were like the streetlamp and the Sun – each one fighting a battle of their own.
Patches of men, women and children were sleeping on the footpaths, covered with dirty sheets of cloths and plastic, just like dead bodies pulled out of a train wreck. The fight will be delayed in winters. There will be times when the army of Sunrays would not bother to come and someone will give euthanasia to the tired streetlights much before the battle begins. The humans of the streets will have to find some more tattered pieces of clothes to cover themselves up, burn a worn out tyre, find a shed, cocoon each other.
The roads were near empty once we crossed the Ring road. I noticed the symmetry – the equally placed streetlights, the blob of lights passing through the windows of the car like a heartbeat on a monitor, the lane markings blurring into a single line. It was tranquil without the chaos of humans, without the display of their feeble egos, without their bodies lying on cold stones. But then, a monster bird flew over the car, hiding its wheels and the momentary serenity was broken by its deafening wail.
My office stood like a morgue. The usual receptionist was replaced by a yawning man, ready to devour the phone. For once, the lift moved towards me on my command, not jostling to serve someone else before me. The flight to the 7th floor was effortless – a perfect cuboid being pulled away from Earth by pulleys without a halt. The floor was deserted; a sole tube light was taking its last breath.
I sat on my computer and did the implementation. In two hours, men and women started pouring in, filling the room with randomness. I looked out of the room. The city was recognizable now as the multitude churned in their chores. The Sun had won the war. The streetlights were picking up their wounded, getting ready for the battle in the evening. A battle they were destined to win.