From my balcony
Nov 7, 2018-
I am in love with my balcony. I am in love with the universe and everything inside it. I am in love with my town which is a small part of my country, which itself is a little piece of our tiny planet. I am in love with the chaos of the day and the peace of the night.
Dharan, especially the main bazaar of Bhanuchowk, is home to lots of monkeys. Therefore, almost all our houses have railings on the balcony and on mine, there is only one rail through which my head fits. I tend to forget that every time and it is always a joke for Al, who is my sister.
Some starry nights, when it’s too late to go up to the terrace, the balcony becomes my telescope. I gaze out at the evening beauty Venus and the red planet Mars. Some days, I scan the horizon for Sirius and sometimes Rigel. On nights when I can’t see the stars, I look up and study the clouds. I have become a good meteorologist; at least I can tell that it is going to be a cold morning if there are no stars, for that means black clouds and rain.
On some days, I like to stay outside and study people. The tall man with a large briefcase, maybe he is an officer; the stout old woman with a child, she could be a grandmother; the girl in the black one piece, she might be going on a date. People pay fat sums to go to Soaltee Crowne Plaza or Hotel Annapurna for fashion shows and ramp walks. I don’t even need a magazine to know about new fashion trends. Every day, I see people from my balcony—girls leading with boys not far behind, dressed in their very best.
For the short time during which they pass the footpath below my balcony, I can enter into their world, eavesdrop into their conversations and feel their lives. The best thing is that they are not trying to be someone else as they never know that I am watching and listening. It is human nature that we become self-conscious when we know that someone is looking at us. We feel the need to impress others all the time. Looking through my balcony rails seems like one-way teleportation and though I can look into their lives without altering them, they will never find out that I have touched their world.
Be it the girl with headphones over her ears, striding fast towards her destination, or the newlywed couple walking leisurely through the street, I see life at all speeds from my balcony—slow and steady or fast and furious.
Sometimes, Al or even mom might join me on the balcony. We look at people together, chatting about lost times. Occasionally, we might laugh at the stupidity of some, admire the classiness of others, or compare ourselves with them. We might look at the seriousness of life or sometimes say nothing at all.
Marriage processions—janti—also pass through the road in front of my balcony. Death rituals—malami—also pass the same way. A two-year-old might hold her father’s pinkie as she waddles along or an octogenarian might revel in the changes the town has undergone in his lifetime. Balance and constant poise is what I learn through the life seen from my balcony, and the more I stand at my balcony, I realise John Green was right in saying, “Without pain, how could we know joy?”
From my balcony, I see the needy, the homeless, the mentally disordered who have no idea of themselves, and I feel sad. The country and their families need to do something for them—establish a centre, take proper care of their young ones, provide them with stipends for survival or train them so that they can be independent.
The height of my balcony gives me other powers too. On the footpath below, there is a sale every Monday. I see people who are seemingly mortified by the thought of anything cheap, who claim to wear only the best brands and label themselves classy, shopping there, sometimes glancing sideways as if someone they know has seen them. These very people then try to intimidate others with their ‘branded’ things. I just smile, for I have no intentions of belittling them. It is nearly engraved in human nature to at least have two faces. Why is it that we are so hypocritical? It should not be a matter of shame for anyone to buy things anywhere. My balcony introduces me to all the highs, lows, beauties and beasts of life.
I don’t like hypocrites; I try not to judge people before I know them, or on the basis of their lifestyles, appearance or prejudices. I believe in breaking stereotypes. I don’t like falseness. You will not find me on Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp or Viber. I am luckier than others my age in the respect that I do not need to give a false smile when I don’t feel like it. I don’t have the duty of liking everyone’s posts. I am lucky to witness real life, instead of sugar-coated ones. I don’t even have a cell phone. You can find me on my balcony, standing on a marble tiled floor, looking through my railing as life unfolds underneath.
Wosti is a grade 12 student at Delhi Public School, Dharan
Published: 07-11-2018 08:18