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By Aashna-Malpani Mar 26, 2015 672 Words
India is a large country.
Harboring more than 2 billion people, it'll soon break records of overpopulation held by China. The men here are said to be brave, kind and chivalrous. The women considered, traditional, learned and hospitable. The cities here are abundant in whatever they sow and breed stupendous cavalry to charge. The rich bring in fine money to buy fine luxuries for the eyes of fine people. 
 Democracy prevails. The unwanted die. The important live.

Each state highlights its accomplishments, power and internal unity.

“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.” For one such soul, a desolate, lonely and broken soul, that city was the City of Joy.

Rawdon Street, contrary to popular belief, usually succumbed to slumber after the dim of the eight-pm show. Windows would be pulled close, cars disappearing towards a more lit up and cheery enclosing, shops would turn out their flashing lights leaving the wheel scarred tar to the mercy of a derisory streetlight. Even the street dogs, the same ones who would complete this brightly lit, over populated day path, seemed to disappear into infinity after a single call from darkness.

Trailing along Robinson Street, a newfound abandoned walking stick in hand; I traced the cracks of the concrete pavement. The gloomy, shambles of thatched houses felt, in a strange way, a reflection of my own despair inside. I felt empty. Someone felt forgotten. Something felt lost.

Minutes away from a right turn, one that would drag me into Rawdon Street, I could only anticipate the forthcoming gloom this extinguished street would bring me.
As I neared in, the peeping stars seemed to light up and abandon their cover of dark blue. The sounds, which on a usual night would remain untouched and unheard, cradled the entire stretch. Paper planes flew into the ceramic surrounded trees, cars honked at the flashily dressed pedestrians, who carried their procession of never ending Namaste’s and small talk out onto the street. Speakers belted out different tunes from different houses, immovable objects wrapped in rice lights, diya’s and candles charred their clay pots, illuminating ever corner of this forgotten grave.

I walked forward, looking around in awe, watching strangers offer each other sweets, fresh beetle leaves, chai, and fried deliciousness. Electrically charged stands with designs on them, fluorescent lights peeping from the leafy heads and radiant smiles of the carefree neighborhood gave it a light I’d never seen. In this moment of absolute joy, I forgot to look up at the dazzling sky to watch a million stars shatter. One after another, rockets shot up to tear the dark veil and sprout their sparkled wings and increase the tear. Some were as silent as this street, and some were as vibrant and loud as this street.

Being a somewhat foreigner to my native land, I could never understand how a few cheap Indian made crackers could satisfy anyone’s desire to watch a painted sky. For me, it was all about the fireworks shown abroad. After all, they were imported.

But then, in that fleeting moment, when the honking, lights, rampant over-bearing chatter and giggles of a now dying rocket came together I knew I had never seen, and probably will never see, anything so beautiful.

It wasn’t Diwali, Kali pujo or the festive season that made me feel whole again. No. It was the city that was hosting this season.
This city, this secular riot of tradition and conventions, this quaint old town that held everything I had given up, this haven…

The soul of my soul, which gave to me, a stranger standing alone in a forgotten town, the feeling of belonging, And to a lost cause, one who has nothing left to live for; this single moment speaks to her/him in a language of hope, of belief.

A single tear washed away my original intention of visiting Howrah Bridge’s unstable railing, and a single smile welcomed me to walk the journey to my once abandoned home.

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