There is something about night streets. Or is it streets at night? I like the term night streets; it gives it an identity and makes it distinct. Although day and night both last for about equal time, twilight scents are temporary. Days assault our senses; nights lie there with open pores and sores that we cannot see.
The other night as we drove and I clicked this picture, the rear-view mirror made me think: What is there to see when nothing lies in front? Can one assume that nothing would be behind? And if someone is behind and there is space to go ahead, why would they lag behind? To follow? To trail? To linger? Or does the someone not care whether or not anyone is ahead?
On empty streets if one is speeding I cannot look straight ahead; I feel dizzy. So I look at the side, the side I am sitting in. It gives a limited view. We often see limited things, but I am aware that there is the other side; it may be pretty much the same, but unless you are on a bridge, the sea will only be on one side.
As children we would try and get the seaside side. It became ours. We owned that piece of the vehicle and no one would want it later since we had dropped flakes of wafer chips and wet the upholstery with drops from a water bottle. After we reached the destination we would return to claim our side not realising that it wasn’t a bridge but a road we had travelled along and roads show you three versions of one street. The fourth dimension is the rear-view one.
I was talking about the other night. The new sea link takes you very fast, especially when you have no particular destination in mind. I could not see the sea on either side. “It’s not for your view, but to cover the distance,” I was told. For me being able to see something I want to see means covering the distance.
The lights are too bright for night. Why do we want to mimic day? Isn’t the beauty of the night its darkness?
The cables look beautiful like spikes rising and merging together. Soon enough we had crossed the bridge and came to the real street, of potholes and sleeping strays. Some could have been homeless people too.
The wheels ran fast as though there was too much of nothing to hold on to. The night street meandered aimlessly refusing to get attached to those who walked all over it.
My remembrance of it suggests that I got attached. Would it make sense if I said that just such memory could convey that the night street has made a dent without even walking all over me?
- - -
yun hi duniya mein aa kar na jaana
sirf aansoon bahaakar na jaana
muskurahat pe bhi haq hai tera
kiske roke rukaa hai savera
raat bhar ka hai mehmaan andhera…
(Sahir Ludhianvi; film Sone ki Chidiya)