CITY LIGHTS

How do you deal with the sheer predictability of life?

I sit in my tiny apartment balcony each evening, watching the city lights and trying to gather my thoughts on the day gone by. They rarely take a detour. At the end of every single day, I land up having done nearly the same things that I probably did the day before. The city at a distance bathes in the same radiance. Right opposite the railway track lies the bustling market area, my sole means of daily survival by daytime. As night begins to descend, I can visibly make out the various stores, neatly lined up. The digital boards with their names brightly lit up. Green, red, orange. I see them in the evenings and they stay up till the wee hours. Unfailingly, always. Just on one of the days I do hope for some of them to malfunction. Maybe I can then spot a slight change. The traffic rushing past the over bridge like cannonballs is no different. Seldom does a vehicle break down causing a “serpentine delay”, which is immediately substituted by honking cars. Soon, it’s back to the haste.

I shift my focus to early mornings. I run downstairs from the tenth floor of the building sharp at 6 AM. I wear the same track pants that I wore yesterday. But yesterday I used the elevator. I alternate between the two but I have only two to choose from. The compound is packed with dazzling bougainvillea, carefully planted on a small patch in front of each building. I try to calculate the distance of each shrub from the entrance. The absolute correctness, the precision of existence. I run away from the bougainvillea and head towards the green carpet. I must walk barefoot on the grass. I look for scrubby tufts. I am glad to discover something gone awry. This is the place where I decide to spend the next one hour, looking around at familiar faces trickle in. I look at the burly man in blue sweatpants. He is into his fifth round and will soon be taking his place on a standing twister. Before I can see him do that for the umpteenth time in a month, I realize my one hour is over, once again.

The rest of the day between the morning and the descending of the city lights juggles between hunger pangs, food stories, phone calls, work deadlines and ticking off lists…almost in an identical order each day. I sneak in minutes of social media, only to be greeted by much of a muchness of this devil. I type familiar words one after the other on the profiles of friends. They do the same. I open an article, trying to figure out whether I’ve read it before. Modern life runs in a loop.

I have an hour left before the 5 PM tea. At 5 PM every day, tea leaves simmer in a pot and I pour a cup with no sugar and another with a teaspoon of it. One more, with sugar free. Every day at five in the evening.

Next, I take my position in the balcony and turn to the city lights. Tonight, I must write. What will I write about? The City Lights! The same city lights? Yes. Don’t I have something new? No. I only have the predictability of routine.   

8 Comments on “CITY LIGHTS

  1. Beautiful post Sonia, I read it twice. I can totally relate to it. For me, it’s a delicate balance to strike between craving a predictable routine and then feeling bound in them. I keep breaking routine by trying something whacky every once in a while.

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  2. Sometimes we seek solace in this predictability. When life goes haywire ..we miss that routine. Isn’t it

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  3. A lovely read Sonia. There is a certain comfort in the routine too. Particularly in these unpredictable times.

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  4. Thought the predictability of routine, the stream of consiousness is so well portrayed here. I loved this, truly did. A lot of times I wonder about the same things, writing about the same things, sometimes I do and sometimes I let it pass with the 5:00 pm tea. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  5. I can relate to this, but I try to remember to be careful what I wish for—life can become wildly unpredictable without notice, leaving us gasping for a little routine!

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  6. This is beautifully written, albeit grim. I think it’s something we all go through from time to time. I hope you’re able to break free at some point.

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