November 28, 2009 (Modified: April 14, 2010)
She seemed to be caught in a whirlwind of mirth. A frail, bony structure... a mess of unkempt hair… she looked like an other-worldly being, as she rotated on, naked, amidst a sea of onlookers.
Otherwise, it was a usual busy evening at the pavement outside the Dumdum Metro station. Srijan, Amit and I sat at a corner, chewing homemade ‘murki’, occasionally knocked by some slum-dwelling toddler who wouldn’t move without a share. The kids had mastered the art of begging before they learnt to arrange words.
How old could she be? At least twelve … or thirteen. Not exactly an age to move around unclothed in public, though she looked barely a toothpick. Swarms of people walked up and down the pavement – some stared at her, some turned their glance away. She rotated on around herself – unaware of the surrounding world. Her entire body arched backwards, her hands spread out as she moved. She looked straight up and brimmed with unearthly joy. And once, when her eyes caught glimpse of a flock of birds flying across, she laughed out loud. She ran behind them in pure ecstasy. She was more than a bird.