3:30 A.M in the morning. I could hear the slow chatter from my room through the adjacent wall to the street. The sabji vendors have started prowling the street to catch the first local train to Kolkata. The routine of the day has already begun, the daily wage vendors rushes to Kolkata from the outskirts of the city to buy or sell their articles in the local markets. The earliest birds are mostly the sabji or milk vendors. It is so serene at this time of the morning that you can actually feel the rushing steps to even in your half conscious state. If ever you take the early morning train you will experience the stuffy air filled with smells of vegetables, fish, milk or whatever you could find in your kitchen. As if a massive kitchen is moving along with you.
Today is one such morning, when I am half awake and conscious of my thought could feel the movement on the street. I could hear those old ladies, too late to be alive at their age, wide awake smoking their hookah in the earthen local made hookah jar. The sound of the bubbling water at the bottom of the hookah could be hear clearly at this wee hour if your mind is already ticking, I could even imaging the smoke coming out of the charcoal. The murmuring of prayers in their slow tired voice, for the moksha that they might be seeking for at this age of their lives.
The morning of any small town belongs to the ladies of the town. Their struggle begin even before the Sun decide to give a go ahead for the struggle of the day. The first struggle or the battle of the day begin at securing the bucket full of water for the course of the day. Routine, one may call it but the struggle, for securing the most important resource considering the limited and time bound availability of water by the local administration, is exhausting. Many families leave their buckets, previous night, as a mark at the public water tap to claim their advantage over the queue. It was routine that morning too, with the dawn the ladies started to queue up claiming their mark in the queue. Even though method of queuing up had been practiced for ages now, it can never be practiced silently. inevitably an argument will broke up over some adventurism in the queue. though not all mornings are gloomy with arguments, some friendly teasing, some new gossip or friendly banter also welcomes the morning on better days. One might be tempted to say that morning melodrama or the soap opera is well held together by the central character of the show, the water tap!
I was already awake pretending to be asleep. One hour in that sate had already passed. I decided to leave my bed and to shake off my sleep lethargy. I sat on my bed and open the window of my room overlooking the street. The chaos was slowly taking over, the commotion has begun. I could feel that it was more chaotic today, may be I have not been awake so early for a very long time and unexpectedness is making the experience more chaotic. The argument outside were bitter and unfriendly.
I got up and washed my face, taking a toothpaste on my tooth brush, I ventured out of my house on the street to check what was the argument all about. Nothing was too unusual, I kept brushing my teeth and started walking around to soak the morning freshness and loosen up my stiffness. I saw a very young little girl holding a small buckets in her tiny hands waiting behind the warring ladies. She was quietly waiting for her turn and with her tiny structure she could not even intervene to sneak in few quick bucket of water for herself. She was trying to ask to get some water but was refused fervently by the lady standing ahead of her, she was looking little worried, .
I walked away and returned after few minutes of morning tour. The little girl was still standing at her place, more worried with a restless face. before I could understand what was happening, she started crying. her eyes were full and a stream of tears took over her tiny face. Everyone around her was too busy with their course to even notice. It was making me nervous and concerned for the tiny one. I walked up to her to know why was she crying, if I could be of any help! She looked me in the eyes and with her heavy voice and a face full of tears, she said, 'She has missed her school as she could not manage the few buckets of water and no one allowed her to go early in the queue. It is too late now in the morning for her to reach the school.'
And the tear didn't stop!!!