Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Light-- Non-fiction

December 2, 2005. 7:35pm.

Providence Place isn't a big mall, but when you lose the only three people you know in that tinsel-wrapped world, it is suddenly larger than a New York traffic jam at 5:15, with the grumbling coffee, and the bags, and the files...

I was lost. With a bag, grumbling into my turtleneck, trying to find in my ipod the same solace I used to seek in mum's neck when such impossible events would happen in the past. No such bloody luck.

I was lost. The three moroccans were busy GAPing or Banana Republicing somewhere, and I couldn't find them.

It got worse.

I had never been into Providence before. Mum calls it the Hermit Crab complex. Call it what you will, it also meant that I had about as much knowledge of the bus numbers and stop locations in Providence as would a Tibetan Monk of the Tabo Chos-Khor Monastery.

Metallica on ipod.
Filene's shopping bag folded severely under one arm.
Survival instinct kicked in-- They are three. I am one. I will survive.

I carpe diemed my way out of the mall, looking for restaurants and crushed soda cans as signs of the way we came, the only things that could point me towards the bus stop. One doesn't try asking Rhode Islanders for help. An unwritten law.

Shapeshift-- Nose to the wind Here, the basement irish pub. Roamer, wanderer, nomad, vagabond And here again, the crushed autumn leaf that looks like diseased liver call me what you will. There, a lamp-post with the red car underneath dance little tin goddess, dance. 5 steps more and-- yes, the crushed day old Providence Journal section, with the Darkness on the cover St. Anger round my neck, he never gets respect. Cross street. Wait. What I've felt, what I've known, never shines through what I've shown Cross another street. Stop girl who's smoking, who fumbles instantly for her lighter assuming that's what Im asking her Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire. Girl, boyfriend and madly barking dog direct me towards the stop. 7:50pm. Get on the bus oh please God, wake me .

8:20pm. Miss my stop, because its my first time and No Leaf Clover is on my ipod and I like listening to it at a volume louder than what the driver uses to announce the stops in.

8:21pm. Im on the wrong side of the bridge that connects Bristol and my college to Portsmouth and the rest of the world. But it was a bridge, and I assumed I would walk over it like I've walked over the chetpet overbridge so many god-awful times in madras.

But here's the deal.
Madras has no winter, and chetpet lake no deep water.
A sign says its illegal to cross the bridge on foot.
The foot-path's a foot wide, no more and no less.
The metal railing comes upto my upper thigh, no more and no less.
Winds blowing at 24 knots seem to want me and my blue coat flapping over the bridge, down into the black flat water faaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr below.

I begin to curse. Not god, not my parents, not my ipod-- But the conductor, the bridge-layer, the wind, and gravity. I cursed and swore at them all, yelling that I-- 3 cars go by, zip zip ZIP!-- would be alive, past winter and its silly wind-- ZIP! and another ZIIIP!-- inspite of my blue coat flapping and the narrow sidewalk-- ZIP! zip, zip ZIP!-- I WILL SURVIVE!

Fuck me. I was going to fall off a bridge and die just when I had bought a nice dress and was heading home in two weeks.

Maybe I should pray, I thought.

"The Lord is my Shelter and my Refuge"

One misquoted, tiny psalmic line. I attempt thinking of the second line when--

A car pulls up. Black family van. Elderly couple in the front. The woman is frantically smiling and opens her door to ask me if I'd like a ride.

I blubber. Overwhelmed-- am I still in rhode island? Is this heaven? Did mum send you?-- and frostbitten, I scramble into the back. She tells me they went by me, and she had asked her husband to turn around because she was worried about that "young girl" out alone on the bridge. I thank her profusely, continuously, my own little mantra. Om mane padme hum. She says she has children of her own, and couldn't have let me walk it all the way back.

4 minutes later, I am across the steel monster and at the gates of my university. They drive off, I sniff and take glad muddy strides in firm, flat and large earth.

One misquoted, tiny psalmic line. Om mane padme hum.

There is a god. Hopefully, he'll be around and sniggering next time I endeavour a Mall run.