I sweep the roads on the 19th Cross- Everyday. I have been doing this for 18 years now. In the initial years of my work the roads fascinated me. Call me crazy but I developed a sense of belonging to wide tar sheets running on the earth. Every morning I walked to my roads to see which flower, which tree has knocked on its doors and left its traces while I was asleep someplace else. The road had a story to tell. Everyday I would fix the puzzle as I swept the remains, throwaways and imagine what could have happened the previous day. I felt like an investigator scrutinizing a crime scene to retrace the paths of people who have been on these roads. The only difference was- people always left their belongings unlike the actual trespassers who take things away.
While this fascination for roads- is exciting. I couldn’t help but discover how non-existent my presence was to the people who lived here- the 19th cross. They were unaware how much I could tell about there lives just by looking at their balconies. By -catching the glimpse of their lives once in a while. It is strange -the power of human comprehension. I will tell you the story of two houses- two balconies in particular.
It was 5am and I saw the balcony light go on in one of the houses that stood next to each other on the one, two three.. yeah the fourth floor. Every house was identical in that building. I saw a young lady walkout. The balcony was beautifully decorated, brought to life by small crotons, few flowers and creepers that gave the icy grills of the balcony- welcoming warmth. The lady ran her hands on the plants. She looked at the early morning. She had a beautiful smile. I fell in love with her happiness. It is amazing how people can have that effect on you. Her smile made me smile. She went back in for her regular coffee (I suppose). Over few days of observation I figured out in five mins the husband would be there repeating the same actions with a coffee mug in his hand. I loved his happiness too.
Everyday at 5.30am I walk by that street to collect the heaps of dried leaves I leave while sweeping. And that day and all the other days that followed I saw the light on the other balcony go on. A woman with a grumpy little face stormed into the balcony. The balcony was lined with buckets of all sizes and the grill supported the mopping cloths torn from old clothes. She picked up a broom from the balcony floor, threw the mopping cloth into one of the buckets and slammed the door behind her back. I could tell there was a husband though I never saw him- as the torn cloth pieces seemed to be a part of worn out shirts.
Standing here on the ground -levels below their lives I don’t know the intricate details of what happens to them everyday. But all I understand is- two families probably in same financial status. Living in the same houses, same locality, similar jobs probably– how different they were.One balcony full of happiness and life the other too caught in the mundane activities not a moment to smile. Could it be perspectives? I believe it is.