A Day in the Life
The alarm rings at 5:00 in the morning. He steps out of the dark silence of his home to milk the cow. He then attends to the daily dose of domestic chores, gets the children ready for school and grabs some much-needed breakfast. After having changed into one of the two pairs of ‘dress blues’ that he owns, he’s off in a flash, on his bicycle, wielding his steel lunchbox. He completes the 5-kilometre journey from Kamaspur and reaches Ashoka’s campus at 10:00 a.m. He then strides on into his work space, the three intersecting corridors on the sixth floor of Residence Hall 3.
All through the seven days of the week Bittu works in the same order, a rhythm which he now knows by heart, after four months at Ashoka. The first order of business is sweeping, followed by dusting in the pantry. Then his attention veers off to the messy washrooms and from there onto the messier still water dispensers. He is occupied with these particular duties till 1:00 p.m., which is when he breaks for lunch. The steel tiffin box of his contains a ‘hari subzi’ such as palak, and 5-6 rotis. On some days there are 7 rotis. Lunch is always with his friend, Vikas, a neighbour from the 4th floor. Vikas lives in Delhi and has a motorcycle which he uses to reach campus. The two share tiffin boxes and talk about their families and in no time the clock hits 2:00 p.m. and it is time for work again. The second half of duties include garbage disposal and moving to cleaning the rooms in residences as and when requested. After 5:00 p.m., the two proceed to other floors in the building, to help out wherever there is a shortage of staff for the day. By 7:00 p.m. it is the end of one more day as Bittu and Vikas leave for their homes after meeting with their supervisor, on their respective two wheelers.
The bag that accompanies Vikas daily.
The bicycle trail gets Bittu home by 8:00 p.m., where he is met by his two children, Ansu and Amit who would have long returned from school. After a bath and dinner, he helps with the domestic work for the night and at 9:30 p.m. he gets some amount of free time. Bittu being a fan of Haryanvi music likes to listen to a few of his favourite tracks in the night. He remembers each song by its tune. So, he puts these tracks of his on repeat, listens to them and hums to the tune which he carries with him to workplace every day and eventually, falls asleep. At the same time, through the longer route by motorcycle, Vikas is home, where he spends his free time listening to classic hits by Mukesh. Vikas also has a habit of writing as he maintains a diary which he fills in daily in the night. On some days he also writes shayaris, though they are often never completed.
Our liberal eyes would without fail see Bittu and Vikas as part of Ashoka and hence try our best to include them in this community. Then one wonders about their lives outside this 25-acre campus. Once they set aside the blue uniform, its Bittu the singer and Vikas the poet that perhaps leave the campus on a cycle and a motorcycle, respectively. A singer who cares not for the lyrics but for the tune and a poet who is unable to finish his poems. This part of their day is balmy with just the two of them, and they take comfort in this knowledge.
One of Mukesh’s most popular songs is “Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye” from the 1971 film Anand. Its last stanza says: “Dil Jaane Mere Saare Bhed Ye Gehre; Ho gaye Kaise Mere Sapne Sunehre; Yeh Mere Sapne Yehi To Hain Apne; Mujhse Juda Na Hoge Inke Yeh Saaye.” which roughly translates to, “My heart knows all these deep secrets of mine; How my dreams became golden; These dreams, these alone are my own; Even their shadows will not be separated from me.”
By Dhruvan Nair