The man was playing the flute. “Hamein tumse pyaar kitna yeh hum nahin jaante magar jee nahin sakte tumhare binaa.”
I lip-synced the words. I could not see him, but his voice carried to the apartment. I marvelled at the way he managed the mudki… “Bhool gaye sayaan preet purani…and then dipped “qadar na jaani”. No one will know him. He sells flutes to children who wet it with drool as they blow into it and try and create some sound.
I love street sounds. That is when I am not in silent mode, which is often.
The hawkers: The one who blows a horn, a peculiar one, as he rides on a bicycle selling idli in a big steel tiffin.
The one who shouts late in the evening, especially in summers (which is forever in Mumbai), “Kul-piyeee”. It is for kulfi; he carries it in a basket on his head, the aluminium cones covered with red cloth. Then with a deft click of hand, he manages to slip it out and offers it on a leaf.
Mangoes in season; just about everything is sold. Brooms. Carpets. Knife-sharpeners.
Then comes the monkey man. I can imagine the monkey dance as he rattles the dumroo. I wonder how many kids would look wide-eyed now when they can get these games on their fancy gadgets.
During Ramzan, one man would call out, “Jaago, utho, rozedaaron”...and then intonate some naat. I remember him so clearly because one day I saw him. He was lame; it must have been painful walking through that lane to awaken people; sometimes he got a part of their sehri leftovers. Somehow, ever since I saw him his voice began to have more pathos. I don’t know why. It was as though he was singing in pain, about pain…
Then there are balloon sellers. I hate that grating sound they make with their fingers on the balloons.
Occasionally, when it is still at night, I can hear people talking in the street returning from some revelry. They are drunk and laughing. I wonder about them…or there are voices of the poor. Yes, the poor sound different. I can catch words. They fight. The poor fight differently. As though even the quarrel is a test of survival. There is something primal.
I listen to the sound of heels clicking on the street. A woman who wants to feel tall and is confident about her walk.
I hear the sound of a bike…I know this is some spoilt kid showing off. I imagine Ms. heel and Mr. Bike meeting. My attitude changes. She holds him round the waist or on the shoulder and they zoom away to look for a few hours of blissful togetherness.
I can hear the sound as the moon falls. You don’t believe me? Try listening carefully. When you listen to the wind hum and you smile, then you are the crescent fallen from the sky.
One is always as precious as the thing one loves.