He noticed his uncut, uneven nails dark on the ends with dirt. He observed how ugly the nail of his little toe was, minuscule and just unattractive. His faded blue paragon chappals reminded him about how long it had been since he went to the market to purchase any footwear, which was astonishing for him given the exertion he subjected them to everyday. He liked those faded blue chappals, though he had a pair of black ones at home too. But they weren’t just the same as them. In his lost thoughts, he was interrupted by a sweaty man standing behind him,
‘Will you move ahead? Where are you lost man?’
Clutching his old brown bag to his chest he took two steps ahead in the line. He pulled an ironed white handkerchief out of his left pocket and wiped his forehead with it. He felt kind of breathless standing there, surrounded by impatient office people, who after their tiring shift in the day were desperate to withdraw money from the ATM and leave for home. He looked at all their feet. Brown dusky leather shoes, mustard wedge sandals with orange ends, dark red cotton slippers with black stripes, black shining belles with powdered dirt over it. They all spoke of the distance their owners covered each day.
Two men similar to his age, standing in his front began ranting,
‘What did we just end up doing? Sir, you bet that this man would change India. All he’s done with this move is that he’s created more lines for us to stand in. As if there were any lesser before’.
He couldn’t understand where to look anymore. The constant rattling wasn’t appealing to him. He took out his cellphone for a few minutes and texted a few replies to unread messages that came in the day. He wanted to leave the line and just be somewhere else, anywhere else but there.
But he stayed there. For he had to buy white sneakers for his son’s sports day. The promise kept him bonded to the line.
Suddenly his neck began aching, and the weight of his body felt too heavy for him to stand anymore. The sight of dirty feet, the footwear they were in and the ground they were upon. wasn’t as entertaining to him anymore. He looked at people around, all walking or standing, looking at one another, or below, or at the ATM or their phones, some in their wallets, some at other women as they walked by and some with their eyes on the verge of shutting. And. he looked above.
There they were, within the peaceful blue shade of the sky like speckles of cotton attached in a painting. Soft, subtle, calm as a river, serene as silence. Just there, unaffected by the dilemmas that were occurring down here. They didn’t care, they didn’t bother. They were just being. And more time he spent looking at them, he realized they weren’t still, they were moving too. And the thoughts in his mind suddenly became slow and his breath came in sync themselves with clouds.
The man behind shouted again, ‘Dude, are you high? Move dammit.’
He took two steps forward.