The Lamppost: Fiction | Read the story behind |10 min read
Its 5 A.M and she is awake. It’s been few days since she doesn’t have to wait for her alarm clock to shout. Suddenly she remembers few lines from a poem of Gill Blaze.
“My eyes open and finally blink
My body clock is surely out of sync
Night time is for sleeping and dreaming
Good Morning all
Time for work, I must be leaving”.
She gazed through the window. It’s her father’s regular duty to come to her room before she wakes up, switch off the light and open the window. Her parents knows it well that she needs at least two hours for her body to fully wake up and become functional. She will sit in her bed looking at the outside tree and birds and think of almost everything from her life to global warming. Her phone vibrated but she made no effort to avert her gaze. Only two days left for Durga Puja and she has started feeling that special autumn breeze. “There is something special about this season and Durga Puja”. She thought. “Not because it is my favourite festival but also the nature turns out to be so fresh and vibrant.” Counting from September to January these are her favourite months with all the festivals, beautiful climate and specially so bright without any darkness.
“Diya, Its 7 o’clock.”- Her mother shouted from downstairs.
“Coming Ma.” She replied.
Today again she is getting late for work, half-done breakfast, lots of yelling from mother. She rushed to the bus stand which is a mile away from her home. She looked at her watch once again as she hopped into the bus. Diya worksin a multinational company as a customer representative. It’s been almost three years and the only thing she likes about her job is that she gets to meet a lot of people every day. “A 25 year old gregarious women who can never understand what it’s like to be alone or staying in dark. Maybe somewhat she is monophobic or nyctophobic “she thought while looking at the trees passing by the side.
“Office is almost empty”, she can imagine by looking at the crowd waiting for the lift.
“Good morning Diya! What on earth made you come to office today? Isn’t your favourite festival coming in two days? Rajesh asked.
“Good Morning. Yes! But holiday is from tomorrow right? I am very dedicated you see.” Diya grinned at him.
Just like she had imagined, hardly 15 people were there in the office. Outstation employees must have headed home. She went to her desk and kept her bag inside her drawer. Itis going to be a tough day for her without crowd and chaos and phones ringing everywhere. She can’t concentrate in so much silence. She opened her laptop and start getting into the work.
“Hey! What did you buy for Puja?”- Neha asked.
Neha is her colleague but she can be termed as the topmost person in Diya’s hit list, whom Diya wants to shoot someday, but crime is not acceptable. Diya almost loves being with people but there’s something withNeha which makes her really intolerable. As per Diya, Neha is a fashionista which is a good thing but then it’s not necessary to always talk about cloths and new trends.
Diya slightly rubbed her forehead and gave her a fake smile “Nothing till now Neha”.
Neha looked at her in a way as if Diya has murdered someone in front of her eyes and now not ready to accept it.
“Come on! Are you crazy? It’s Durga Puja in two days.” Neha asked her in disbelief.
“This girl is unbearable”- Diya murmured.
The phone on Diya’s desk, rescuing her from the potential crime of killing Neha. Diya gets back into the work.
Almost all working people love when its weekend or holiday. Diya is no different. But she has a weird excitement when it is a day before holiday. Thinking “ its holiday tomorrow “ makes more sense to her than saying “ today is holiday” because every starting comes with an end and she don’t want holidays to end. At least for few days she won’t have to face that ‘Self-made fashionista’ or will have to sit 9 hours looking at the monstrous face of the laptop, she would be free. Diya giggled in excitement. The lady sitting next to her in the bus gave her a weird look. The sun is going down over the bridge, a seemingly bright light shredding astonishing hues of colour all over the place. The window glasses of the cars are shining with its reflection as the sun has bid adieu to the people by gifting its most precious thing – the light. Durga puja pandals and decorations can be seen on almost every road. The organising committees are giving their best effort so that it gets ready on time. Toys, balloons, whistles are hanging in all shops throughout the markets. The bakers and sweet shops are now covered with Jalebis and different sweets.
Suddenly with a sharp brake the bus stopped in between. All the passengers looked anxious and irritated. The driver checked and informed the passengers they have to board a new bus as there is a problem in the engine and they need time to figure it out.
“Oh god! I hate this!”-Diya uttered in annoyance.
She came down and looked for another bus. This route is mostly empty and there’s not much public transport available. Few of the passengers have already taken the autos waiting at a bus stand few miles away. Diya took out her phone thinking to give a call to her dad but then she changed her mind. This will unnecessarily make her parents worried and her father will come out with his car despite of his bad health. Then she saw a bus coming towards them and she sighed in relief. When the bus approaches all the passengers waiting there hurriedly jump into it. It became too crowded to board. Leaving the idea of boarding the bus she started walking and looking for an auto. It was dark now and the long road with huge shadows of trees and streetlights made it scarier for Diya. Few cars were passing by but there was no sign of an empty auto. Diya started walking faster toward the traffic light where she thought she would definitely find something to get to her home.
“Madam, Auto?”- An auto stopped near her and driver bent his head towards her.
The auto started moving as she seated. Diya took out her hanky and wiped her face. She now realised that she was sweating even in this pleasant weather. The auto had few pictures of different deities pasted on its front near the driver. The cold wind is providing Diya the relief she was looking for. After few meters the auto took a left turn taking a small subway leaving the main road.
“Where are you going?”- Diya looked perplexed.
“Madam, this is a shortcut to your society. Haven’t you come before?” – The middle aged auto driver asked her.
“No, please turn back and take the main road”. – Diya tried to cover her fear.
“Madam, trust me. The main road will have traffic jam. It is safe and will take only 5 minutes to reach your society”- the driver tried to convince her.
The road was in a bad condition. One or two cars were passing and as there was no footpath so hardly any person was walking on the sides of the road. The area was gloomy without any streetlights. Though few slum houses were on the sides but most of them had no electricity. There was hardly any shop or auto, rickshaw stand.
“Madam, my home is…” Diya did not let him finish and shouted “I said turn back and take the main road, can’t you hear? Do it or I will call the police.”
The driver then stopped the auto near one small house. Diya was prepared to run from there but then the driver called “Radha, come out beta”.
One little girl of 8 -9 years of age came running towards them from the house. She hugged the driver and the driver kissed her forehead. Diya was stunned and looked them in a confused state.
“Madam, my daughter.” The auto driver looked at Diya while keeping his hand on the head of the little girl.
“Radha,come with us. We will drop this madam home then while coming back we will buy the new dress for you. Ok? Go tell your mother.” The little girl looked very happy with her father’s decision and she ran inside.
Diya then turned to see the small house. It was a small bamboo house with a tin as its shed. There was a window facing roadside and low voltage bulb hanging from ceiling and may be the only source of light in the whole house. There was a small open room which shared the same roof with the house separated by a bamboo wall. She could see from the distance that it was being used to make some kind of idols or cults.
“Madam, My name is Yogeshwar. I try to make Durga idols, even your society buys it from me every year. My forefathers had started this occupation but my family cannot survive with only this so I started driving auto rickshaw. But preparing idols of Durga ma helps me with strength to fight difficult situation and bless me with every happiness. As a father, I am trying to give my daughter everything she deserves and somehow I feel Durga ma gives me that courage to go on in right path. I understand madam, it has become very difficult for a women to trust someone now a days and to roam safely on roads. I have a daughter too and I know it will be difficult for her as well once she is young. I was not aware that you don’t know about this shortcut or else I would never have taken you from here. I am really sorry.”
Diya tried to smile and tell him that it was not his fault but nothing came out of her mouth. She nodded and pointed towards the open room and asked “Can I go there and see?”
The man’s face turned bright with joy and he walked fast towards the room to show Diya his works. Diya followed him. It was a small room filled with different finished and unfinished idols of Durga and other deities. Many uncut raw clay, paint pots, brushes, waste products used in making the idols were lying everywhere. There was a bamboo pillar in midst of the room with a lantern hanging on its top. The man took out a matchbox and lightened the lamp. Soon, the whole room filled with its light and Diya could properly see the face of the Durga idol. Diya’s heart filled with emotion and she could feel the divine strength like Durga Ma was smiling to her and said “Nothing bad is going to happen to you Diya. You will shine like your name. You will overcome each difficulty just like every ‘Diya’ shines, keeping a little darkness under it.”
Diya stepped out of the auto in front of her society gate when the little girl grabbed her hand and asked “Didi! What will you buy for Puja?”
Diya smiled at her, giving her the chocolate she had in her bag and said “strength!”