They choose to spam my inbox.
Learn a foreign language in ten days, they say. Yes- why should I spend a lifetime mastering Latin and ruminating over sarcophagi when I can choose to zip through a crash course in French? Find yourself a date pronto and settle down in life- choose from a pool of eligible singles over 50. I don't bother to open the email and check the gender of the offering. "I want to talk to you"- says one, in the tone of a solicitous Godwoman, one who will step out of the screen any minute with a grave face and long, bejewelled hands and hold mine in hers. "Let's pray." Thanks, but no thanks- I don't belong to the Julia-Roberts-snap-conversion league. My loyalties don't change overnight, and certainly not if they decide to paint a caricature of the nadir that my life has sunk into and promise redemption before I finish typing this line.
At a quarter past two in the morning, the trees come into life. Birds don't have to worry about sinning, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, do they? The cold wind slaps across my bare arms as I walk down to where a few bleary-eyed young people are waiting, my companions for the twenty-minute journey home, all waiting to shut their minds off and get into bed, even as the driver sets off on yet another of his sleep-deprived trips.
The roads are quite alive- this is when suspicious bundles sheathed in tarpaulin and plastic whoosh their way down state highways, the "Hum Do, Hamare Do" signs obscured in the night, the colourful symbols painted across the trucks to ward off evil now mere silhouettes that gleam only when surprised by a streetlamp. Hindi film music swells from the front cabin of one of the trucks that passes us on the way; psychedelic lights changing colours, a slightly evolved version of the rubber horn drowning the shrill love-stricken notes of the singer. An orange dot glimmers in the dark depths of the cabin- white threads curl tenuously away from it, the puff of victory, the satisfaction of having declared who the roads belong to.
What lurks in those shady corners, what makes the trees tremble so with sudden indignation? Every footfall and whisper is amplified manifold, the faces I see in the guarded light of the night I may not recognise in the brightness of day.
And I like nights all the better now for the way they keep their secrets.