14 March, 2016

The Harbor Line 6/8 - Bandstand

Mumbai is a cannibal of a city, slowly devouring the suburbs around it. I live at the humble township of Kamothe across Thane creek. But every now and then, the ocean calls me. It was a Saturday night with college friends in a lounge at Powai. As old friends meet and one thing leads to another, we soon found ourselves staring at the strong waves rushing to our feet at Bandra’s famous bandstand. The wind howled calling us to run with it and the slippery rocks were the sole mark of safety the rocky beach could provide. In many ways, this one place represented everything this city of dreams stood for. The vast unending ocean, I knew at the back of my mind that the ocean really did have an end. And that it was a small planet my specie had inherited the habitation of. Yet eyes deceived the knowledge when the ocean turned beyond the horizon and left for faraway shores, or perhaps a journey without a destination. Despite its vastness, the ocean was humble enough to continue rushing towards me and washing my feet with all its might. Sometimes I felt that I’d come too far and the waves would sweep me along. It was easy to forget myself in those waves, and become a part of them. A part of my heart did ask me to take bold steps forward. But I knew that it wasn’t my destiny to become a part of the waves. I came with a dream to rule the waves. The least I’d do was take back lessons from them. Yes there were those who made the waves parts of their lives. But I had to go back. I am a boy of the shore, at least till the waves do not make me one of their own.

That’s all it took. A few bold steps, a bit of courage, some thought, and some talent; the waves would come forth to kiss my feet. But I had to be careful. I was the only one who could decide what I wanted. Whether I wanted the waves to kiss my feet, my lips, or my soul. The deceitful waves were ever-eager to make use of one mistake of mine, and they’d claim me. That’s all it took, one mistake, one folly, one moment of disregard and the ocean would consume you. To stand your own among the waves needed unflinching determination and discipline. Yet it was so tempting and easy to just let go and join the vastness.

I did not come back without any bruises. There was one, received very quickly. Too eager and young I was to go towards the waves and immediately they gifted me with a wound that pains till date. It serves a reminder to what eagerness may do. In a crowd of millions, there would be more eager to come forward than those who would take the time to appreciate the careful steps it took to come forth. My first folly was my last. The scars would serve as a constant memory of the innocence I had, and how the ocean showed me its worth.

I realized that the farther I went, the stronger my waves would become till the point I had no option but to let my friends catch up. Holding each other, we’d be able to cross the creeks. For that we had to let go of everything else in our grasp and just hold on to each other. Some said it was absurd to attempt. Some wouldn’t let go of their dear possessions. Only a few who understood that only holding one-another would we be able to cross did choose themselves for the task. Thankfully, the people with me were the exact kind. Together we stood as far as the shores and our feet would allow us without the dangers of drowning. Each one of us held everyone else and everyone ensured that we’d hold our own.

I looked at their faces. Most of us had come from smaller towns, such as ones which Mumbai wouldn’t even consider to cannibalize. Our oceans didn’t pour like Mumbai’s do. They gave barren sunshine and scarce rain. No creeks or rivers to mark our lands and no vast oceans to kiss our feet. Perhaps that was what brought us here, together. To realize the big dreams we’d seen together. Together, we shouted in euphoria! We screamed at the sky to let us taste the clouds and let us etch our names across the stars with our sweat. We asked the moonlight to show us the paths to our glory. We looked up at the stars, wondering if we’d live our lives differently if we saw them every night. Why didn’t we? Maybe because the ceiling came in the way every night. The ceiling which we’d worked for the past week. But was it worth it?