Wednesday, September 29, 2010

After Dark

Two minutes into my nightly ritual of putting my clothes out to dry on the clothesline did I realise that something was different. It was dark, almost one in the morning. I was on the terrace of my paying guest accommodation. My ears pricked. Was it the moonlight? I looked up at the half moon. I looked down at the dark green tiled floor and stepped into a spot of moonlight. I stood there for a minute. No, that wasn't it.

I climbed further atop the terrace, up the dozen or so black iron steps to the place where the water tanks are kept, carefully hidden from view. Some of the girls in the PG often come up here to smoke at night when the weather is good. They play songs up here in the dark on their cell phones and talk about boyfriends and unhappy family lives.

There was no one here now. There was the horizon - the tops of sluggish houses and tall neon-lit hotels in the east, and dark treetops in the west. The new metro train sped along the eastern horizon. A solitary plane swam in the inky sky. A dog howled.

Then there was silence. For the first time since I'd arrived in Delhi, the city was quiet. The great monster was asleep. Delhi was at peace.

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