The famous Marine Drive, my most favourite esplanade is situated towards the south of Mumbai. The movement of the Arabian Sea, changing colours of the sky, ripples in the water and the swift moving traffic of the C shaped boulevard all lure me in to visiting it every time I travel to that city.
Marine drive is the home for the affluent, a tourist’s sightseeing spot, a hangout place for youth, a family joint, a couple’s paradise and a ‘chana-wala’s’ earning place but, what is it for a homeless wanderer whose aim is nothing, simply NOTHING?!
A Sunday evening in the month of June: The road is zooming with cars as usual. Families, groups of friends and couples are enjoying their selves at Marine lines. A lady with salt-pepper hair wearing a white T, pink track pants and jogging shoes brisk walks, panting at regular intervals, with a French poodle at her heel. Another bald man dressed in sleeveless Adidas attire, with a tattoo on his left arm, headphones plugged in his ears, jogs in the opposite direction.
The waves of the sea splashing on the rocks could be heard in the distance mixed with the sweet laughter of a teenager in the nearby group and a hoarse voice of a hefty man. The humid, mildly flowing air has a hint of salt, a typical characteristic of the sea.
The atmosphere is happy and gay and that of celebration and reunions. Smiles, laughter, love and contentment grips the ambience.
Amidst this hubbub, sits a man facing the sea all alone. He sits on his blue, worn out slippers from the fear of someone robbing them off. He is wearing a pair of khaki coloured, stained battered trousers which perfectly covers his emaciated body. His dark green shirt seems to have been unwashed for a lifetime, changing its colour to a muddier green. His unkempt hair stands out shabbily, complementing his over grown misshapen beard and moustache. He has a dark complexion, tanned skin and a triangular face wearing a lifeless expression. His piercing black iris, clearly are a reflection of his mutilated heart.
His identity and origin is ambiguous, though it’s clear from his appearance that he certainly does nothing to earn his living. Maybe once he did earn, like any other layman, may be once he did have a family, a home to return to, maybe once he did live a normal life, of which one does not know. Had he witnessed a tragedy whose consequences are his current state of being, or was he always like this, a solitary vagabond? One does not know!
He stares at the sea, his eyes fixed, observing the movement of the waves. The rhythm of the Arabian Ocean grips him, almost tranquillizes his already frail state of mind.
The sea is always energetic during the monsoon. With great velocity the waves advance the shoreline and splash on the rocks. The rugged surface disrupts the force, the water twirls forming foamy patterns and the waves retreat just to let another wave proceed. This inconsistently consistent ‘come ‘n go’ pattern of the waves forms a sort of a tempo which tends to have a soothing effect on his mind.
Dark clouds hover above, sometimes slightly wafting through the air, colouring the sky grey. The sunrays visible through the clouds look like a stream of silver threads woven across the sky. The ripples in the water shimmer in the reflection of the setting sun. It is a magnificent sight.
The tramp shifts slightly, scratches his head and continues to gaze at the sea, oblivious of the people sitting a few steps away from him and they too are completely ignorant of his presence. He allows the wind to blow in his face, his expressions motionless, not smiling and just frowning slightly. He either seems to be in a deep thought, pondering over something or simply enjoying the cool breeze in leisure.
What brings this wanderer to Marine Drive? What makes him turn his back on the super fast, treacherous, metro life which he survives through everyday and turn to nature instead? Turn to the sea? Apart from its beauty is there anything that the sea can offer to this loner?
Perhaps he associates his life with the sea. What comes has to go back to make space for new things, like the waves do. His once satisfactory life will return to him in a matter of time, but for that he will have to strive hard, shake himself from the tedious routine, get up, and get on his toes like the burly ball of fire rising up from the sea every time it sets, to spread light in his own life. The perpetual rising and setting of the sun and the motion of the waves define the inevitable truth of life-of rise and fall, ups and downs, highs and lows. The sea spreads a sense of calmness through his mind, it seems to motivate him, and he feels secure in the nature’s bounty, from where he came.
After an hour or so of speculating about his life, the wayfarer gets up and walks down the path with a freshly sowed thought of motivation in his heart as the sun dips in the ocean, the moon takes over the sun, peace over noise.
This obscure man is nobody in that cosmopolitan city, yet he is somebody. He is nothing, yet something. He is simple, yet complex; mysterious yet ordinary. For the world he is insignificant, but his inner self is as significant as anyone else’s. It swarms with thoughts, complex emotions and contradictions…he is different from us, yet just like us!