By Aparajita Paul:
Cobbled streets ignite extreme interest in my head. Interest that is a direct reflection of how they are. Cobbled. It’s funny, how disparate sections of usually igneous material are laid down in a jagged manner to arrive at something that is smooth. Smooth for us to walk on. Very similar to our personalities; as jagged as they might be, someone still walks all over it. And then comes the cold. The chill that runs down your spine when you step on these stones barefooted. It’s like it torments you. Laughs at you. And all you can do is tip toe. Try to avoid touching your entire sole on it. The same stones. The ones that you “walk on” — now numb you. But you still walk on it, don’t you? Donning your soft and padded shoes, you set out. The stones are now quiet. It’s in your hands. The game. Or so you think.
You use objects to keep the cold stone from touching your feet. Objects that represent pretention. Faux. Phony. Inorganic. Much like our emotions. In times of testing. How we pretend to smile. Pretend to not care. Pretend that everything is going to be all right. Pretend. Pretend. Pretend. But will it really?
Cobbled stones. They bear so much. Yet with each bearing they strain unto themselves, they only become smoother. Less jagged. More rounded. But ladies and gentlemen. We think we’ve cornered them. Won our battles. Alas, we forget what they now become. They fight their battles with wit. With a naive sophistication. A frowning smile. Next time we step on them. No, they’re not jagged. We, have made them smooth. Alas! Too smooth for our liking. We slip. We fall to the ground. This time the cold hits, not only our bare soles but also our hands, our body, our face. They laugh again. Immortal they might be. They are much more potent. Stationary — yet brimming with such mobility. And we question our own potential. Or blame the faux shoes. For the manufacturer of their sole needs to relook his materials. And we continue to walk our way. On the cold cobbled street. Till we arrive at the lamppost. That gleams yellow in our eyes but fails to intensify the dark cobbled stones. The sharp light that blinds us; shatters and dissolves when it hits the ground. That’s how potent cobbled stones are. They suck even the light. So we breathe. In the cold air we let out momentary wasps of vapor. Momentary. Just like us. Just like everything we do. Transient.
So we cross the road on the green signal. Like a herd of sheep being hit on their loins. We walk mechanized. Toddling on the black and white stripes. With chunks of metal flashing yellow into our faces from either sides. Momentary isn’t it? What would happen if we just stand there in the middle? Suspended like a pendulum that’s caught in its oscillation. On one side is the cobbled ground. On the other side, the cemented road that leads us to our destination. Below are the two colors that provide a hue unmatched. All around us light. The light for us now turns red. And thus rises searing din — of honks and abuses caught in their own symphony. Yet you stand there. With the cobbled street on your left. On your right your kin are waiting for you. Transfixed. Looking at you with a de-cyrptive glance. Not understanding why you’re there. But the cobbled stones know. And so you turn around and go back to them. Walking all over them. But this time you laugh with them. Because in that one moment of transience. In that one moment of rooting yourself to the ground. – you become what they have been for the past many years. Jagged. Walked on. Unimportant.
Or so you always believed …