I got off the metro and assessed the fury of the sun’s rays. There was a breeze blowing which took out some intensity off the Delhi summer’s heat. I hurried out of the station and found myself a rickshaw to take me to the office. It was a long straight stretch of a road and it was empty. I plugged in my earphones to get some music into my system during the routine rickshaw ride.
She came pedalling down the road on a cycle and overtook us. I watched surprised at the speed at which she rode. At first, she seemed to be an intense blur of pink and green hurtling down the empty road. She had her head tilted back as she enjoyed the breeze on her face and her dupatta streamed behind her like a pair of pink wings. She made me think of an angel in flight. Her sense of freedom reverberated in the air and made me stop the music and just look at her riding.
My rickshaw driver took it as a personal affront that a mere chit of a girl had overtaken a gnarled veteran of pedal power like him and began pushing himself harder on the rickshaw as I clung on for dear life. We caught up with her at the red light and I was able to take a good look at her.
It was obvious that she came from a background where each day involved surmounting the obstacles placed by fate and the fact that she was born a girl did not help matters much. Her cycle was old and but she had cheered it up by hanging colourful little danglers on the handlebars. She had some books strapped to the carrier behind her. Her face was ordinary, like countless other girls like her but her eyes had a glint of mischief and wait a minute….was it a hint of ambition and rebellion that I saw there? She stood panting as we waited for the lights to change.
I leaned forward and asked her to tie her dupatta behind her else it would get tangled in the wheels of her cycle. She flashed me a brilliant smile which showed off a cute set of jagged teeth, got back on her seat as the lights were about to change and said to me, “ Aaj Udne Do………..”….and I was left wondering did she mean her dupatta or did she mean herself ?