I have been trying to discover music in the city for the last six years, since I came here for a job from my village. But all I find is noise. The screeching of the bus, the horn of the taxi, the unpleasant din of the autos crowding near the bus stand like a crowd of crocodiles in the stream just conveniently below a bird’s nest. The cacophony of God knows how many vehicles, men and women struggle to rise towards a grey sky but is echoed back again and again by the crowd of the pale skyscrapers around me.
But at times I do hear a voice shriller than all this ghoulish music asking me to follow back the country roads rather than stay cribbed, confined, and caged in this claustrophobic carcass. These are times when my ears seem to have a tongue that screams with the discomfort of an angel cursed to claustrophobic confinement in Satan’s lake of fire. As a procession glorifying the skullduggerous Machiavellians who ‘serve’ our motherland as ministers passes by, I am even more aware of my helplessness.
Their rising slogans suffocate the cries of a pregnant woman in the ambulance stuck in the traffic snarl caused by the procession. The fire of disgust and wrath inside does desperately seek a crater but I realise that the city of the blind does not purchase spectacles. I compromise my conscience like my fellow zombies (TS Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men’) sweating in the bus to witness the fruits of democracy chocking the traffic.
I decide and know that discretion is the better part of valour. Then comes the whining of the beggar in the bus to the accompaniment of the temptations tongued by the salesman, made for each other, perhaps! One carries nothing and the other, excess; ‘ ‘Tis strange foppery of the world’ (‘King Lear’).
I go to my office to be a white-collared slave to my 9 to 5 obligations. The boss lectures me on values. Noise again for he practises none!
I fear being labeled a cynic for he knows ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’. But something has taken away the song from my soul, the song which marks the difference between living and existing. I fear using too many words for men often regret their speech, but rarely their silence. The country roads invite me but my obligations towards my family in the village warn me that I am a clerk, not a poet. But then how can I be expected to discover new oceans unless I dare to lose sight of the shore? You can keep a ship in the harbor, but it is not meant to be there! But I get back to my lonely room and tell the pet inside me:
Let us go then you and I
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table.