Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Musings: The Road Mirrors Life

The road fascinates me. No one can claim ownership of it, yet everybody present on it owns a piece of it. At least for that moment in time. The road is a theater. The ultimate Broadway for the the exhibition of character in its rawest form.The road fascinates me. Because through the lenses of the road, I view the mini society.

I see the naked pedestrian who is the slum dog. She is vulnerable to every sort of hurt. Unprotected, unshielded, she does not have the wheels to run. No metal encasement to provide armour. Just her one or two or no miserable feet. And a sharp tongue against which to fight off the road bullies, those bloody bastards who had just the slightest of fortunes to be able to afford wheels. And so, when it rains, it is she who nature blesses with a bath. She has no encasement, with which she can mock nature. She has no wheels with which can run from nature. If she's lucky, she shields her head with her umbrella, while nature mockingly beats at her from underneath. When the road is busy, she is chased off by the wheeled monster. After all, her road-land ownership is minute compared to that of the two wheeled owners. And when she dares to run her tongue too much, the wheel owners tauntingly move to run over her legs, brushing her into the gutter. The pedestrian on the road is but a bloody civilian. The pedestrian is the hungry unemployed. The pedestrian is the student kicked out because he cannot afford the fees. The pedestrian is the disillusioned orphan. The pedestrian has the saddest fate of all. The pedestrian is the slumdog.And when two pedestrians collide, they hurt none but themselves.

The two-wheel owners are are step higher. All road occupants must know that. Those little devils who never fail to rub their little power into the face of all. "I am a two-wheel owner, yet I'm far privileged than you miserable trekking bastard" he seems to say. He is right though, after all he can lay claim a higher mileage on the road.  And though the privileged four wheeled miscreants may wish to oppress him with their shiny armour, he will make a mess of their ride and flee on his own two wheeled pride. "Catch me if you can." The two-wheel owner is for the most part, drunk on his 1-step advantage on the totem pole. The two-wheel owner is bitter at the multi-step advantage of the four-wheel owner. The two-wheel owner has no regard for the pedestrian and constantly aims to spite the four wheeled owner.  The two wheeled owner is filled with a poisoning pride. Yet the two wheeled owner nurses a bitter regret.And so, when it rains, the two wheeled owner can flee faster. The two wheeled owner is that young chap, just admitted into a D grade University while his peers write JAMB for the 5th time. The two-wheel owner is that government worker on a 20k monthly salary who acts as a "self pronounced liaison" to his boss. The two-wheel owner is that bitter housewife with a "supermarket" opened for her by her husband. The two-wheel owner constantly, aggressively fights for recognition on his own share of the road. And when two two wheelers collide, they are but a nuisance; hurting themselves and holding up the road for a few seconds.

The four-wheel owners are a lot more difficult to analyze. Their personalities are as conflicting as the sizes and types of the four wheeled monstrosities they are encased in. Perhaps, because they are a great number with varying models, they exhibit varying characteristics. While some four-wheel owners bully the miserable pedestrian off the road, others remain permissive to them of some space. Some block out the two-wheel owners and condemn the pedestrians to remain at a standstill as they whiz past. Other four-wheel owners are considerate of the pedestrians and two-wheel owners. Or could it be they chose to ignore their antics out of pity? The four-wheel owners are secure but not safe. While in a "safe" encasement, they are still at the mercy of the two-wheel owners and the pedestrians who can destroy their shiny encasement in the blink of an eye. The four-wheel owners watch cautiously for changing pulses on the road. And so, when it rains, the four wheeled owner huddles up in his encasement. And can afford to splash a little dirt on the disillusioned pedestrian as he stands by helplessly, hoping for a more compassionate four-wheel owner to drive by. And offer him a little taste of his four wheeled luxury.  The four wheeled owners is that middle class employee. The four wheeled owner is that youth corper with 5 months to go on his service calender. The four wheel owner is that specially appointed government commisioner. The four-wheel owner is secure but not safe. And when two four wheelers collide, the road is brought to a mini standstill while alternative routes are sought.

The 16-wheel owner is King. Ignore him at your peril. He has no care for bloody you. You who three of which will never equal one of him. You who seven of you would still be but a speck near to him. And so. Dare him and you spill your blood as a sacrificial offering. When the 16-wheel owner appears, you must make way. Bloody pedestrian, you must huddle at a safe side of the road. Two-wheeler, you know better than to race with him. Four-wheeled cages, must tread with caution near him and watch carefully, as he moves across the bumpy road - to avoid being flattened out like scrap metal. Disobey at your own peril. And so, when it rains, the 16-wheel owner has not a care in the world. He heaves past the pedestrian, the two wheel owner, the four wheel owner, leaving in its wake a messy "re-bath" of them all. He towers above them all, untouched. The 16-wheel owner can lay claim to the whole stretch of road if he so wishes. The 16-wheel owner is that company CEO. The 16-wheel owner is the madam of that pepper-soup joint. The 16-wheel owner is that high ranking government official. The 16-wheel owner is that student who's father is the highest donor and golf buddy to the VC. The 16-wheel owner is king. And when two 16 wheelers collide, they take down the pedestrian, the two-wheel owner, the four-wheel owner, and the impact reverberates on roads kilometers away.

The road is a fascinating place. Make whatever meaning of it you wish. Tarred, muddy or sandy. Autobahn style or crater filled. The road mirrors life.

23rd March 2012 11.00pm Pic: Getty Images