Haikus of the Road
The earliest feeling that road evoked in me was a mix of awe and curiosity. Way back, as a five or six year old child, trying to fathom way from our house, through the alleys, to the mud road that linked our village to the nearest township was an enormous exercise. That explains the awe. The curiosity bit was because I wondered about the beginning and the end of the road. Sometimes, I thought it must be a pit at the end, as I was still ignorant of the shape of the Earth. Even otherwise, I don’t remember hypothesizing a circular road on a flat plate. 

Awe diminished and curiosity increased as I grew taller. I developed a sense that distance you can see depends on your height. Unfortunately, as I approached adulthood, I stopped growing vertically. Awe had vanished and curiosity had stagnated. Of course, I developed horizontally -- Ben Okri’s The Famished Road to Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. This should have cured me of the beginning-and-end pathos. As it happened, I still harboured dreams of destination. My education, my siblings’ education, job, marriage, next job – the destination never came, it was not even supposed to come. I the ignorant with two masters degrees, I the blind with two open eyes, this very I hadn’t seen the Road, yet. 

It took me a decade after getting voting rights when one fine evening, as I was packing to head home from my office, a poem descended on me from somewhere. As if I was in a trance, I recollect myself taking my chair again, and penning down that poem that ended with these lines: “I the journey, I the road/I the gene and genetic code.” That evening, I had conversation with a frog, a butterfly, a tree and a stone. The lizard in my office though had predictably declined to talk as it obviously remembered me abhorring its presence near me. Yet, I did not feel any malice towards that beautiful creature. I had my food. It told me it was going to use my life force to transform into active cell s and participate in the process of life. Like, my food was eating me.

And, it didn’t matter. I was the One. 

If I knew, how to get back to that mode, I wouldn’t come out of it. But, I don’t. It never really happened again and I too got busy with life. Many things happened over the next decade, and recently I surprised myself. I, the one who never managed to ride even a bicycle, learnt how to drive a car, and, eventually, started driving to work. This then presented with a unique opportunity to observe the road from a completely new position. Over the course of last one year or so, the road got some haikus written through me. 
I hope, these fifty two haikus, which have no punctuation, give you something to reflect on --may be when you are in a bus, a tram, a rickshaw, a car, a train or, what the heck, even in a ship or an airplane, may be a spaceship, or may be when you are walking on foot; and even when you are still. 

May you find your own road!

Request your electronic copy by email to mohan@mohanpandey.in