Cast of characters: Biker man, Old lady, Village man, Village woman
Open, empty road. Sweltering summer heat. Man riding bike, has a camera bag along with a rucksack tied to the back
He stops to take a pee. Drinks the last few gulps left in his water bottle. Looks around, no shops, just an open vastness. Spots a small house a little inside the road on one side.
He reaches the house; starts to knock but the door is wide open. Inside an old lady is sitting, knitting.
Biker man: Can I have… some water please?
Old lady points towards a mud pot by the table. Man gratefully begins to fill up his bottle. He tries to make conversation with the lady, but is ignored.
He fills his bottle up. Takes a gulp from the jug and it tastes a bit funny. Ignores the distaste and thanks the lady – who ignores him, again – and starts towards the door. He stops on his way out.
Man (hesitatingly): Do you want me to close the door?
Old lady stops knitting, looks up at him anger welling up.
Old lady: Was it shut when you came in?
Man (stammers): No, no..
Old lady: You leave it the way it was found
Seeing the man was in a quandary, trying to be nice, suddenly eases and a faint smile flickers across her face.
Old lady: See, my son and his family have gone for a marriage to the house on the other side of the road and they will return any moment.
Man smiles, half perplexed, half apologetically. He leaves.
On his way out, he sees a group of people crossing over from a distance. All of them are dressed in celebration wear, boisterous and laughing. He waves at them, but they are all so engrossed in their merrymaking that they ignore him. He turns towards the house and sees the old lady standing by the door, looking at the merry bunch. Falteringly, he waves at her too, but is ignored again.
Man reaches his bike, starts and rides some distance. He stops seeing something shimmery on the road. It is a cheap steel bangle, flattened by a passing vehicle. He picks it up and looks around. Looks back in the direction of the house; wondering whether to go and give it back.
A village couple comes on a cycle – man pedalling with the woman in the front – and a basket and hoe behind the cycle (NREGS beneficiaries). They ride a bit ahead and seeing the man is holding a bangle, stops.
Having made up his mind it is not worth going back to give the bangle, he proffers the bangle to the woman. She violently refuses it with a shudder and looks away.
Bicycle man: For a long time this entire area was strewn with bangles and rings and sandals and anklets…only the passing lorry drivers would stop and take them. The villagers were too scared to touch any… you also saab, leave it where you found it.
Biker man: But… but… why.. They just dropped it…
Bicycle man (laughs mirthlessly and points at the house of the old lady): Who you saw is a family from that house…they went to another house across the road for a wedding. On the way back they were run over by a speeding national permit lorry… entire family killed… crushed to death…
Cut to the bangle falling in slomo…hitting the ground… bouncing…
The voice of the cycle man drones away in the background… the biker is stumped and stands there transfixed… some moments elapse.
Biker man (stuttering furiously now): So…so… now the old lady is alone in that house?
Bicycle man: Old lady… yes. The mother…she was too old to go for the wedding.
(Bicycle man rides away and adds): But she too died last week…