Onlookers looked and unlooked at the shabby man, overweight with unkempt beard and uncombed hair, both white, dragging along his bicycle across the 10 lanes crossing circle. Everyone noticed him and he seemed to notice none. Who was this pajama-clad, uncouth-like, unbothered he ?
Notice him, recognise, feel and know him, the lady in the dark glasses and scarf-covered, wanted to cry out to the indifferent many who saw but did not see. She was always alongside, seeing and sensing him; her precious him.
At first they doubted what they were doing. This, this masquerade.
And they had everything. A lovely, purposeful daughter – billionaire, celebrity status, known to many as innovators, activists, and do-gooders. They were known to all.
Every month they picked a place in their city, mostly. Today it was his turn to mingle and her turn to track. They wanted to be known as these people whom they portrayed – the ordinary unknown persons. But none would lift the mask.
Today it was his fate to be manhandled. The traffic cop yelled at him; most two-wheelers zipped past him with wisecracks; there was this “decent” lady in a car who abused angrily. This was the usual treatment, every time . And she remembered when she lived the day of a rag-picker; in the same block where a week before she addressed a charity function, donating millions to uplift that entire area .
This time the community stalwarts set the ugly dogs after her; the wayside vendor made lewd offerings. She wept for not being accepted and she remembered all had agreed at the function, the charity was for all – especially the street women.
This was their sorrow. No one wanted to know the true pain; the pain of the forgotten.
There was one place under the bridge, occupied by the family of four. They smiled at her and often welcomed her with tea or water or even hot bread which they were making for themselves. While she sat and spoke, the sharp woman would shyly say in her broken, untidy way, “You look so much like that lady who comes in a big car to give medicines and clothes. One day I will make you meet her.”