It was my last day in the city.
As always, Mondays are a busy morning. I had a whole day lying ahead of me before I went away but all I wanted to do was sit here and revel in this city's in-your-face beauty.
And so I sat by my window sill, in the quiet humdrum of a busy day, to the constant noise of cars, buses, motorcycles - their blaring sirens, their screeching tires.
A million dreams and aspirations whir by a narrow street, in an organized madness, trying to make it through the mist of strangers to their higher purpose.
I looked on from a vantage point and wondered to myself, "This city takes so much from you everyday. To find meaning to your life here can be a fatal thing."
Faceless crowds pushing and shoving you into rapid movement when all you want to do is slow down and catch your breath.
Empty eyes in untold time follow you off-handedly until they lose sight of you in the blinding beat of the jarring city anthem.
I vividly remember walking along the streets of this city in the afternoon, as a new city girl.
Signs telling me where to turn, where to look, when to stop...
"I don't think I know how to get home." I feel the restless hustling but I don't quite know where to go.
At every turn, the city got bigger; all I carried within me is a tiny, microcosmic world of my own, a small speck in its jutting vastness.
The only thing binding me to it was the interwoven sunlight on my street, the corner Alphonso vendor and....
Ah! Just then I saw you from a distance wearing your usual flashing smile when you look at me — me, a tiny, spacey-eyed girl in her grungy tee.
Almost immediately, I remember feeling hope — of knowing that I had just made it somehow.
Of course, you were just suspended on a loud billboard, coated in dirt, slowly being washed away.
Every time I step out in the city, I am flushed. I feel exposed. My rhythm is broken. My voice is muddled with anxiety. I don't want to leave home.
But for all you know, just once in a while, this city pursues you. Perhaps when you're in a rickshaw and you stop at the red-light signal long enough, let's say around twilight, and the city becomes your muse.
I peered out of the rickshaw and saw little faces, breathing in the musty air, looking down from their matchbox houses.
Drafts of their evening cardamom chai-scented breeze reach out to me.
Homeless children sell balloons — they criss-cross through cars caught in a signal, moving from bumper to bumper. I follow the trail of animated balloons crowding into one another, grinning down at me from a distance.
Lovers leaned into each other in a side-walk, bright-red petals from broken flowers cling to asphalt, the smell of wet concrete in the air.
Stray dogs scavenge near garbage bins. Birds fleet home. Pedestrians, rushing past the traffic which was beginning to inch forward, let out fire with their protesting mouths, igniting a trail of city lights.
In this city, beauty lies in the ordinary, in the everyday.
I know nothing of wilderness and lush green fields. I know only of sparse trees decorating the city landscape.
I am not familiar with clear open skies and starry nights, fireflies lighting the path to constellations. I am familiar with the dark depths of the ocean surmounted by hope springing up in the horizon as skyskrapers reach for the stars.
I am at ease in the harsh anonymity of my existence in the big, bad city. I'm wary of friendly neighbors showing up at my door with casseroles and getting freebies at the local bread shop.
I am a city girl. I sit by my window pane, looking at life scrambling at every corner of this cramped urban jungle and in my heart I just know, even though I'm going away, this is my home — this is where I belong.