The idea for this post came from the January 29 Prompt on ‘365 Writing Prompts’, titled – “Through the window”, and it happens to match the daily prompt today, as well.
As I write this, I’m sitting exactly in between two windows, my front facing the larger one which is in fact more of a glass wall than a window, and my back facing the other. The best way to represent this situation would be as a timeline. The spot where I am sitting becomes the present, the window I’m facing becomes the future, and the window behind me becomes my past. And, if you look outside these windows, you will find that in more ways than one this is an apt description.
The window-wall opens into a balcony with a sweet homely swing and a quaint table, lots of potted plants that serve as constant reminders of the perennial spring that my city manages to retain in spite of its discomforting closeness to the desert. From four floors above the ground, before the eye catches a thing, the ears feel assaulted! Horns from cars and scooters, broken silencers romancing the tarmac, screeching brakes of buses, roaring engines, voices of people travelling on, the gist of their conversations scattering and dissolving into the invisible but certain pollution before faint mumbles make their way up to my window. Look from within and all you see is a huge building opening into even larger grounds (people playing football and cricket and jogging and what-not).
It’s a college campus, been there since just a decade or two before I was born, but it has the feel of a hundred year old building (and I’m not nearly ancient myself). This ‘hundred year old feel’ could in fact be a result of some very interesting ghost stories I’ve heard about the college growing up, from sources I’ve always considered highly reliable.
Between my window and the college, lies the noisy street that has registered itself as ‘the future’ in my subconscious, very strongly. The hustle-bustle and constant, unceasing activity grows slowly but steadily each day, peaking between 9 and 11 in the morning, declining by noon when the sun is zenith, and rising again by 6:30 around sunset, cyclical yet growing.
The open road outside my window, to my mind, is a signifier of the ‘real world’ – a world run on exchanges and barters, transactions and deals, buyers and sellers, traders and merchants and manufacturers, and of course the end users, who are more often than not oblivious to the supply chains that function chaotically, yet perennially, in the sidelines. Different incomes, different professions, different ages and genders, in a seemingly disorganized race to an invisible finish line, the reality of which is rarely, if at all, pondered over.
Dawn turns into dusk and dusk into dawn, but the activity never ceases, the noise never stops. Businesses start and businesses stop, trade slows down and quickens, recessions come and go, and so do students, shops open and close, the hagglers keep haggling, sellers submit sometimes, remain adamant other times, but the rhythm remains. The balance remains, as nature quietly keeps working to maintain a calm equilibrium amidst the confusion. Life goes on.
I turn around, tired of the activity, reach into my bedroom, and here’s the other window.This window is less defensive in demeanour than the one overlooking the bustling street, the future. This window is not trying to block out the noise, simply because it doesn’t need to. There is no noise. It faces the inside of the housing society where I live. The society is open only on one side (opens into the much discussed chaos of the street), with 14 houses, many common walls, and a dead end. The dead end establishes a limit, a limit not to my potential, but to how far back my memory goes. The dead end itself is not a limit, it is just a reminder of the limit’s existence. My memory is a mix of what I have personally seen, heard and experienced, blended smoothly with what I have been told about my roots, my past, my family’s past, the city’s past. And human memories go only so far back as the memories of the oldest members of their communities. All else is archaeology and assumptions, record and archives maybe. But even those have limits.
The window looking out from my bedroom has probably never heard the noises from the main street outside. Through the back window there is simplicity and tranquility, joy in the little things life has to offer. This window is witness to the internal chaos in people’s minds, that never shows itself, is never heard. A chaos that people nurture until it can’t be held onto anymore and simply percolates into the atmosphere, bouncing lightly off the glass surfaces of windows like the one in my bedroom.
Between these windows lies the present, the safety net serving as a time-out from the perennial race, the comfort zone, the refuge…