One Day in the Life of Pranaya SJB Rana
First, to the revving of pick-up truck that neighbour uses to ferry unknown things in unknown quantities to unknown destinations. Cough, catch, cough and whirr of engine. Hinge squeak of gate being opened and dull thud of door being closed.
Second, conch shell blows call to arms with first light of morning. Sound reverberates through neighbourhood like shot from gun, prompting gang of street dogs to take up impromptu chorus.
Third, roar as next neighbour kicks motorcycle engine to life. Steady whirr as bike idles and then, rides away to morning classes.
Like born anew. Sluggish, myopic, lethargic. Throat dry and scratchy. Cigarette smoke to taste. Drink from glass of water by bedside and drag legs of wood to bathroom for morning ablutions. The water cold, like steel in the mouth.
First coffee. Dark and strong, like aroma of earth. Water in tea kettle boils, bubbles. Coffee ground and water poured in steady stream of translucent steam. First sip burns tongue and sets fire to soul.
Taking off of clothes like shedding of skin. Putting on other clothes like growth of new skin. Legs into holes and head into hole. Socks first and then shoes. Trudge dirt encrusted sole through house on way out.
Now on street.
Take seat on empty waiting microbus. Put on headphones, read the papers. Bus fills up, driver comes by. Elderly woman looks for not-to-be-found seat. Stands anyway. Conscience dictates to give up seat. Comply. Wonder: all men and women around elderly woman lacking voices in head? Now standing, headphones off, newspaper in back pocket. Head bent, back bent. Girl offers to hold bag. Do not get chance to reply before bag is on lap, safe. Catch conductor’s eye. Smile.
On travel, bump, bump, bump. Stop. Get off. Wait. Get on another. Find seat at back, open window and settle comfortably. Off to left side, middle-aged man and middle-aged woman. Gaudy gold watch on man arm, gaudy pink bag on woman arm. Man has arm protectively around woman, body angled towards her as if shielding from outsider gaze. Fingers brush woman neck. She squirms and looks out window. I do same.
Route is same every day. Basundhara-Chakrapath-Sukedhara-Chabahil-Gaushala-Airport-Sinamangal-Tinkune. Conductor yells each upcoming stop, punctuated by emphatic bang on side of bus. Chakrapath, stop for over five minutes at roundabout. Chabahil and Gaushala, stop for five minutes for passengers. Airport, stop for five minutes till next bus comes. Airport to Sinamangal, sekuwa in the air. Tinkune, squeeze past horde of passengers lining walkway. Say sorry, excuse me. Some refuse to give way. Still give dirty looks.
Now at place of employment.
Nod to guards, make eye contact with receptionist and exchange smiles. Raise hand in greeting to acquaintances, shake hands with few, say hello to others. For next seven or so hours, type, delete, delete, type.
Take break. Smoke one cigarette. Momos for lunch. Drink weak, watered coffee. Smoke another cigarette.
End of day. Walk to Tinkune, smoking cigarette. Catch bus to Basundhara. Walk 15 minutes to home, weaving in and out of evening foot traffic, bypassing women with shopping bags and boys with guitars strapped to backs.
Now at night.
Summertime mosquitos and summertime heat. An oppressive a regime as any. Under net, window open and dog barking off in the distance. Reflect on day and realize each day almost exactly like the last. Nothing in the details, everything in the arc. The rise of the day and the fall of the night. Disposable is everything in between.
Sometimes failing, grasping for straws, legitimization of the ways things are. Offer justifications, know they are only justifications, accept them anyway. Devil in details, they say. Each repetition, a difference, they say. Patterns turn to habits. Refrain, refrain. Not hold back but repeat, repeat, refresh, refresh. Lay in bed and watch myself lay in bed.
One night, he lay in bed and watched himself lay in bed. And although the room was dark, light streamed through nearby windows and send shadows scattering to the corners. Cries faint and animal came from near, then far, but all he could hear was the noise in his head. He thought then of how he had woken that morning to the sound of a engine starting, like every other morning for the past two or so years. And now he was falling sleeping, in the same bed he had fallen asleep in for the past two or so years. Before the haze of sleep descended, he found himself staring at himself with a clarity unexperienced, like a cut diamond reflecting all faces simultaneously. The faces of the morning, the day and the night. The faces of yesterday, today and tomorrow. And to his dismay, each face was exactly the same.