• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 02
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The Cap

Indigo ink flows through the fine ballpoint pen. And settles into neat patterns of pre-ordained words on the crisp paper, which morphs into a carry bag at the news market. The one which cost her extra five rupees.

The bag mutates into a cap in her hands, as if by magic. A cap which she dons with flourish. The cap covers hers eyes and ears and frees her tongue off the weight of unknown inhibitions. She is free to talk.

Finally, she thinks, the end of my troubles.

The indigo words on the cap transmogrify into a route map, helping her navigate a vicious convoluted world. Many times, by shutting the harsh, grating noise of sorrow, pain and injustice. At other times by helping her see only the good. Hear only the pleasant.

Sometimes, the cap is a debilitating weakness for she feels vulnerable in its absence, open, to the dark realities of existence. Those children under the flyover, shrouded in tattered blankets, too cold to sleep. That innocent under trial who languishes in the prison without legal aid. The girl, almost her own age, watching her from that non-descript corner in the underbelly of that red-light area.

Images that have escaped from her mind return to haunt her at night. She lies awake on those nights, paralysed with the weight of inaction. Apathy. Of the system and her own.

But, most times, the cap protects her, shields her, helps preserve her sanity, just as she had predicted, just like she had hoped it would.