The love-hate relation we have with our cities
A mug of steaming tea and sunlight illuminating the balcony of your apartment. You have a lovely view of the cars, the people, and the roads – mellowed out with sparse flecks of green from plants. Vehicle horns mix discordantly with the calling of birds, yet, to the accustomed ear, it's practically a symphony.
The imagery above is a rather romanticised outlook on urban life. Living in an apartment blessed with abundant natural light will soon become a rare privilege. High rises have started to surround our abodes, looming over us with their mountainous forms, obstructing the path sunlight would have taken to reach our windows. Other than the carefully tended bougainvillaea bushes here and there, it's difficult to locate any foliage.
In a way, there's a twisted form of solace to be found in our bleak habitats. With the arrival of morning begins the day's obligations, not to let our minds or bodies disengage from our tasks till evening. Had nature still been so beautiful, our hearts might have been full of lamentations at not being able to stop and admire her allure.
The night lights are pleasant enough to the eyes. A few hours to ourselves before we must sleep, for tomorrow will likely be an iteration of the same day we've lived today.
We stay awake a bit past what's advisable, sacrificing our sleep for a little chunk of time where we're free to do what we want, breaking away from the predetermined routine. The irony stares us in the face when this short time of lawlessness soon becomes another entry in our daily itineraries.
The weekends may bring relaxation, but not much comfort. The presence of the upcoming weekday hangs in the air, asphyxiating and scorning our lassitude.
There's nothing like a few days' trip to the countryside to lift our spirits. We hear from the locals there that the majesty of nature pales in comparison to what it once was. But to those of us accustomed to metal and concrete or some unholy combination of both, a few trees side by side can parade as an orchard of Eden.
But as the days roll by, we start missing the comforts of home, the people, and the mundaneness of everyday tasks. Perhaps it's the people with their wildly different perspectives, or perhaps there's not much to do once the initial novelty of picturesque sceneries wears off. Either way, we realise that the urbanisation we loathe has glued our limbs to the threads of its intricate web.
We come back to where we feel most at home. Although debatable, it's where our hearts reside. The cycle resumes once again, perhaps with a little more fondness than before, a little more tolerance towards the traffic, the pollution and the dullness that grated on our nerves before.
In our attempt at making life more bearable, we find things to admire – a family happily chatting away, a pair of lovers walking down the street with their fingers intertwined, or even the commonplace decorative marigold bushes adorned with yellow and reds.
Sometimes, in these unremarkable days when the sunlight is gentle on our skins or the night breeze soothes, we can almost fool ourselves into thinking the city doesn't consume a piece of our souls with each passing day. We can eke out a smile and say, "I love my city," albeit not by choice.
You can find Zabin at [email protected]