Sunday, April 19, 2009

Traffic Signal

Slow – says the yellow light.

The light blinked as an amber siren, measured but diffused amidst the neon lights. Meenu got on her feet, and so did ten others with the same mission as hers.

Stop – says the red light.

The red light flashed. Another gridlock. The road exhaled. Within seconds it was packed with all kinds of motors. The street stopped moving. Meenu entered the labyrinth, commencing her work. They were told not to waste time on the two-wheelers, so she headed towards the rikshas. A two-rupee coin was tossed at her. She caught it expertly. Then she picked the child given to her for facilitating her rounds, and advanced towards the cars. After a few futile attempts, she approached an SUV. She stretched herself up to reach the half-opened window and face its occupant. It was a garishly dressed woman with a heavy dose of pancake on her face. She could’ve been anywhere between thirty and fifty years of age.She placed her hand on the gear and equipped herself for the change of light. Meenu hurriedly tapped the window with her knuckles and raised the sightless child she was carrying. The woman had fixed her eyes on the signal light and Meenu’s act seemed to have brought no variance in her focus.

It was evening already. It would’ve been well past seven; Meenu could tell judging by the rush on the road. She glanced back to check on her brother who was leaning on a lemonade stand, beseeching. His lips moved instinctively in the tune of a popular hymn. It was the only one known to him. He wasn’t as fast as her, owing to his atrophied left leg. He met her glance and answered it with a reassuring nod.

Meenu was too tired to go for another vehicle, so she kept rocking the child and accentuating its impairment. The jam of machines shifted from the low murmur to a restive roar. She slid her hand into the vehicle and seized the woman’s arm. Infuriated, the woman gave her a slap and jerked her hand off, calling her an unrefined litter.

Go – says the green light.

The light changed to a grassy green, setting the road into action. The SUV speeded off, while Meenu made her way to the pedestal, with a hand over her red cheeks. She sat down with the child on her lap, waiting. Waiting - for another pack of buzzing automobiles with fresh hosts, for some empathy towards her and the child, for a few more jangling coins or perhaps a note or two; for the red light to stop the world and start hers.


  1. Use of Signal light is beautiful...nice!!!

  2. I like the contrast of red light :)

    I am glad I did come here, after long though.

    Could almost see it unfolding in front of me.