The nearby Hanuman mandir bells were providing the melody to the morning prayers and the subtle breeze across the corridors promised the end of another chilling night warmed by alcohol and smoke. It’s a Sunday and there is zero possibility that others in his wing would be awake this early. But Jai admires the start of the day more than the end and he keeps himself awake to witness every dawn, the chirping of the birds, the holy reverberation of prayers, the transition into the light, the warmth in the stoned silence, the fresh green leaves, the wet meadows, the fresh smell of breakfast and the smoke out of the mess chimney.
With his near-closed eyes, unbrushed teeth and wrapped in a shawl, he comes out of the hostel gates to take a stroll around the campus. On the way he could hear gunshots from the rooms of those addicted to computer games like counter strike. Even he loved this game and would love to be a terrorist to pick up the bomb and plant as many as he could. But this is not the time, this time is for himself and his thoughts.
The sweeper had already started his Job, cleaning the road off the old and dried leaves. He greets him with a fervent smile, puts his hands in his jeans pockets and takes the next step. The fog is dense and he finds out that he cannot see more than 10 meters. Oh! He loves this fog, he loves the winters for this heavenly gift while most of his friends would prefer a cozy sleep under the thick layer of multiple blankets. The fog is so uncertain, so deceiving; the mess workers, the janitors, the chowkidaars on their bicycles disappearing in no time. Only facial gestures are the means of communication in this frigid atmosphere. The dogs are tired being awake all night and are in no mood to bark at a lonely suspicious looking figure coming out of the haze. As expected, he takes out his fresh packet of Classic Milds that he bought the previous day, the matchbox and then, a warm flicker that lights up his cigarette. He gets an illusionary thought that the smoke his awakening his body and his metabolic rate is picking up to make him warm. The face looks like a bowl of curd with chilly powder put on it, the nose starts watering, changing its colour from crimson to wheatish regularly.
A profound feeling of serenity is asking him to close his eyes and hum the Carnatic raag that he was listening to before leaving his room. As more and more people pass by, the fog allows some more depth of sight, and the cigarette comes to an end, he takes out his bag hidden under the shawl till now, unzips it and his favourite companion is there by his side. The hands are no more inside his pockets and are admiring the beauty, patting him. His eyes are apologizing that he took him out of his cozy bag.
Near the Security Guards’ barrack, two puppies, unaware that they would die soon if they come out of their homes are engaged in child-play. One chasing the other, biting random things, rolling over the sand, pooping and peeing and everything that one would expect out of such a show. The light is also great and his friend loves it. An ironic act of play with life and death.
A nearly drooped bunch of flowers coated in lavender and pale yellow is what attracts him next. The stem is weakened by the dew but would stand up still and salute the sun.
Captivated by their beauty, he captures them in his memory and so does Bravo. Yes. That’s his name. As he takes some more rounds of this garden belonging to the main building of the institute, he takes deep breaths and adores the views.
They move on to the workshop which hoots early in the morning awakening the men and scaring the women. It always hosted some highly confidential projects of the Military and Intelligence being researched and tested by qualified scientists of the country. There is no photography allowed beyond a certain point and then special Identity cards are required. But the appearance of this workshop is as adorable as its mysterious stories. There were talks of suspected undercover agents from other countries, the staff disappearing in thin air, huge boxes stamped CONFIDENTIAL and GOVT. PROPERTY and many more. Bravo is scared and is asking him not to stare at the premises continuously. Knowing that his fear would add to the suspicion if spotted, Jai starts walking but he can’t help pussyfooting the mysterious niche. He goes to one side of it, a bit away and tells Bravo that he has to do the Job now.
Also he can hear are distant sounds from a masjid. He saw one student on the ground floor in a hostel offering his Namaz. God resides in the hearts and not in the temples and masjids is what he believes in but he feels the peace rejuvenating his soul when he hears the prayers.
..to be continued...