A factory hand. Gurgaon, Haryana. The finger-print reader drew blank. Then the officer had him rub at the violet stamp pad and press his thumb in the thumb impression area in the document. It was a blot of ink with no texture.
“You have no fingerprint.” The officer said. “We can’t go on.”
The man had lost his aadhaar card and he was required to give his thumb impression to get his card reissued.
A factory hand. Hard work had rubbed fingerprints off this man’s fingers. Metal and acid.
“Can you see to figure out what can be done about it? Maybe through social media.” S. Kocha, the kind proprietor of the factory asked tamo Thingbaijam Singh. “He needs his card.”
Last Saturday night, or a bit before Sunday dawn. I had worked the whole day and the whole night on a Kakching District book to be launched soon by Kakching History Society. Finally I felt sleepy. But I somehow wanted to celebrate the hard work by taking a photograph of myself in how I spent the whole day and night–summer sweat, tousled hair, unwashed face, and so on. That was fun.
A face is a face. It tells you just what it can tell. There are other things besides faces. Faces are not the other things. Humans are addicted to faces. For them everything has a face–houses, cars, computers, mobile phones, bras, underwear, pianos, shoes, food packages, pens, boxes, tin cans, machines, flowers, and what not?
Yes, looks tell you what is what. The face of a mango and the face of a lemon tell themselves from each other. But what about two mangoes? Yes, they look different. But are we concerned only about looks? Yes, most of us don’t care–we are cognitive misers.
Still, there are some slow and quiet people who don’t want to go far in life. They dig miles into the space of a second–a second has space big like wide enough to contain a house or a hospital and deep like an abyss. And they want to fill that depth and width with thoroughly drenched experience. Just a few things for them to wriggle into like worms–enough for them. The world is too big for them. They are too little worms for the world. For them, the face is just one of the things things have, if any. They love the insides of things, which carry their own weight, and that the outside cannot represent. By the same logic, the logic of first impression does not work always for these people. You cannot get all what they are from how they look because they don’t show off. This is true of even those who make an effort to put everything they have on show like shop windows because they are richer than they can show.
Sound is sculpted in silence. When we are concerned so much with sound, music feels like being merciful to silence by reducing thickness at regular intervals. But when we live beyond the span of music, we know it is just a series of transient, instantaneous inscriptions in silence that erase their own traces as soon as their formations in time complete. This erasure leaves silence as if it were a trailing trace, making sound take the trailing instantaneous shape.
That is why cities sound like sound so full of sounds–the antithesis of silence. I love the sounds of a city–the swearing horns, the hooting sirens, the deep heavy hums of restless cars and buses, the indiscernible sounds of the voices of a million familiar strangers that don’t mean to each other. There is some aesthetic about the noise of a city. But when you live awake through the day and through the night, you will see the noise of a city has a rhythm like the sun rising and setting. The noise of a city has its beat, and the beat is sculpted in silence, and once you know this, you see and hear silence everywhere, even right in the middle of noise. Or rather noise trapped like a bubble in the vast expanse of silence.
The new slum settlement with its houses that look like mounds that have grown out of the parched earth and the tall buildings jutting into and scratching the sky out of nowhere in the background somewhere in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. Both were surprising in their own right and their contrast was striking.
It is rumored in the neighborhood that the slum has got Rohingya refugees that entered India from Bangladesh, which has no reports of official confirmation.
Slums dwellers are an unofficial, unrecognized, and unacknowledged economic class in the country. For one, they form great part of the country’s renewable resources recycling industry. The dwellers of this slum are actively engaged in one of the early phases of recycling resources recovered by the municipal council majorly from household wastes.