I have been here for the past thirty days. They needed help in setting up the turbines for the power plant and they couldn’t afford to blow the coils on this one. When I had decided on playing with wires and electricity, my dad thought I was going to be a great physicist; my mom thought I would be on the radio, my brother never thought about me and hence, stole the wires and sold them for his cigarettes. He still hasn’t departed from his barter mentality and the biggest problem in that is that he thinks everything in life is a fair exchange, till he fell in love. No exchanges there.
I ended up manning turbines and laying the induction coils in them and I thought I was going to be someone great. I didn’t know that all they would want me to be is the guy who would fit things in the spindle housing right. This takes me to odd places like this one. They say they need me and can’t find anyone like me but they also don’t want me to become anything else. Like the man who wound the city clock thrice a week, but that’s a different story.
He wasn’t one who would create problems but he was still not allowed here. He managed to get through the chicken-wire fencing before he was thrown out and convinced that he should not venture beyond sitting on that rock and watch the entire grand activity below. Metal and instructions sparked the space beneath where he sat and watched. No one knew who he was and in that ignorance, he gained identity amongst us. I didn’t like him because he watched us work with genuine interest and curiosity. Even children got bored on the third day. He made me feel embarrassed about my work and its plainness. I soon started working with my back towards him. He would sing a variety of songs while we worked or ate our lunch. When we were about to leave, he continued singing and we knew he had left when we couldn’t hear him anymore.
Today he smiled at me and I wasn’t sure what to do. I pretended as if something had fallen into my eye and rushed to where my colleague was and asked him to blow hard into my eye. We soon started chatting about his brother-in-law who lost his eye when iron filings had fallen into one of them. It was a while before I thought of our man up there.
He began singing again and it didn’t seem like this was a song anyone could sing as it was probably never written down.
You will find something to say, my love
When you heart beats faster
And your nerves tremble a tune.
When your eyes water for no death
But for something that is dying within.
You will find words to shout out, my love
When water dries every green plant
And a man’s truth is the dagger that stabs.
When what you thought won’t, has happened
But it has already happened, already.
You will find words to fling sharply, my love
When your breast will burst, if the mouth
Doesn’t spill what belongs to the world.
When your feet tire from having walked all along
And only words can cover what remains.
You will speak and cry out loud, my love
When what you believe in is raped
And hurtled amongst the felled trees.
When love is the seed for all hate
And pain is the bowl which gathers joy.
But why speak then, my love
For words are but beats
That left the drum
Never to return
And marry the fingers
That thumped the skin.
Why sound your mind, my love
When they never reach
The hand that cracked the whip
Or your soul which sells itself
For a sliver of moonshine
For an ounce of joyous moments.
Why talk and groan, my love
When you could be silent
And die nevertheless.
Why utter your private thoughts
In a public concert?
Why speak, my love
What is there to say anymore
Why speak, my love
Silence is the tongue you should speak.
He had left for the day, and if there was more to his song, we didn’t hear it. I looked around at all the people who had heard the song and I knew that I didn’t know them as I had when we met in the morning. We continued our work in silence and left a little early for the day (the manager, who had also heard the song, didn’t say a word).
Some say he was run over by a truck that was speeding down a hairpin bend. Some say he went back to where he came from. Whatever be the truth, none of us ever looked up at the rock again.