We rushed past my city at 2am
in winter's fog
attacking the Skoda screen.
Sitting next to me, my dad—
journalist by day, superhero by night—
hunched every so slightly
over the wheel
and I swear, I felt something leave him.
I wish I knew this city
this city that seemed like my city
this city of lonely stretches of vast roads
jewelled by infinitely powered street lights
(or maybe it was the Diwali)
this city of alien people and hostel students—
this city of splattered dogs on every blind curve
of dead cars adorning dividers
this city of friends who live alone.
The huge metro stations
lining my vision every few minutes
show me finally
what Bombay people call culture shock—
and I wonder how long she must have waited there
—in the chill of a JNU winter
with dogs in heat and sleepy security guards
to be held.
And in that moment,
upon returning at 3am
(one hour to save the world)
in that moment,
when I saw the drunkard,
lay the epiphany.
Of reading and imagining
thousands of drunkards on lonely nights
and of really experiencing one.
Of her father's mortality
that threatened to strike upon her arrival at Guwahati
and my father's mortality
that had just entered conception,