The tall tower stands alone. The stories it has lived and the times it has seen – it won’t tell the shallow men down here. It talks to the birds, who have built their homes on its shoulders, for whom the imperativeness of it is much more than what it is to us, the humans. The tower isn’t dumb, it’s just not interested in talking…because we aren’t interested in listening…
We sat on the steps of the Sulabh Sauchalaya building, waiting for the torrent to fade out. Meanwhile, Shivam clicked us from four hundred and forty four different angles, the dedication level only matched by the Nat Geo people who go to the Congo Basin with their clunky DSLRs and die chasing primates. Mishra was getting bored, and so he decided he would rather take a leak.
“Can’t believe peeing is a taxed activity. “I remarked. They didn’t pay attention to my intellectual observation, and kept on posing for Shivam, who had probably gone crazy from so much rain. After an unending wait, we decided to take an auto.
I wasn’t made to sit on a lap, but the area occupied by my buttocks was smaller than what they deserved. Rohit wasn’t even visible – he was probably buried behind Amit. The auto raced down the flooded road and the cold wind hit our bodies, and it felt like this was going to be epic day. Just as I was done thinking about the epic day, Hemant’s dad called and before picking up, he asked us not to use profanity till the call was over. But midway though the conversation, a big SUV dashed by, splashing a Tsunami into the auto, wetting Mishra’s jeans and his hand and his phone and my jeans and my hands and my phone. Hemant hung up a century later, and then I broke into howls of profanity.
Fifiteen minutes later, we reached our destination.
Mishra was sent to buy tickets which costed Rs.15 each for the nationals. We pooled in and gave him the cash. He returned only a few seconds later, informing us that the price had doubled. Mishra is a jinx, I tell you.
We bought the tickets and went in. The ruins of the Sultante, the heritage left by the invaders of the west, who had made this place their home, was standing right in front of our eyes, a bit dull and a bit old. Before we could enter the place, Shivam started clicking selfies.
The first monument we went to was Alai Minar, which, had it been completed, would have measured double the height of Qutub Minar. It was constructed with massive stones, the edges rough and unpolished. The unfinished towers always tell a whole story.
“I don’t think the monument is talking to me. “Mishra pointed out, trying to contradict the words of our favorite history teacher who said, “the monuments talk when you go near them.” But it wasn’t Alai Minar’s fault at all – Mishra is so jinxed that even if a tower could talk, it won’t talk to him.
The monuments don’t talk like people. They have their own whispers, which can’t be heard but only listened to. I could see elephants and carts around, and labors and people, witnessing the gradual splendid construction of a monument, which would halt just after the death of Alauddin Khilji.
We clicked plenty of photos and then moved towards a tomb. The walls around had texts embossed in urdu. The people posed beneath an arch and clicked photos. I wondered if the monuments would ever talk to them.
Then we moved to a Madarsa. It was a group of dank, charred rooms that smelled of batshit. I visualized kids taking taaleems here, which was very difficult to visualize, and then my eyes caught “Brijesh loves Rinku” engraved in the poor wall in a crabby handwriting. If you do similar things in China, they will make soup out of you the next day. They’ll hang your skeleton in the museum and place a label outside the case that’d read – Homo Habilis.
Mishra sat on a stone outside and closed his eyes.
“I’m feeling the past guys. “He claimed. “Somebody sat on this stone. It was a sultan. ”
I was pretty sure the stone was cursed or something. If it wasn’t, it would be now.
We then walked into a small graveyard. There were sad old tombs, and the whole place was so melancholic. If you eliminated the crowd from your minds eye, it would even appear scary.
We went to a desolate garden after that.
We clicked photos and wondered which plants were replaced and which were still surviving from the era of Iltutmish. Then, we went on a sloped piece of land.
As I stood at the crest of the small plateau and looked around, the legacy of the Sultans spoke to me. The path I had travelled was travelled by a king centuries ago. In an era devoid of internet and bullet trains and hurry and pace, the Sultan would take a leisurely walk in the evening with his Begum. They’d talk about life and love and birds and trees. They’d appreciate nature. They’d kiss under that tree, they’d sit right here, and watch the birds flying back to their nests, they’d lean on each other’s shoulder and watch the dusk…..
I started feeling nostalgic for some weird reason.
We raced down and clicked a flurry of photos. Then we went towards the sundial. On the way, we saw a Chinese family of 5. Each of them wore a hat. There were two white girls, wearing skirts that were shorter than my underwear. They owned the most distracting pair of butts in the entire universe.
We then went to another tomb, before we got to the sundial. A white lady was looking for it, asking people about it. She seemed confused. I showed her the sundial. She thanked me.
At last, we reached the Qutub Minar.
A 73 meter high tower, built by two Sultans, was now a home to pigeons, but inaccessible to humans. There was some comfort in that realisation.
People looked so stupid. All they did was clicking photos. I was no different, I had to get a new DP.
It was over soon, the epic day. We jumped into the train and sat on the gangway floor and shared the pictures. Amit opened his lunchbox and most of them refused to eat because it was Sawan and the lunchbox was filled with scrambled eggs. So I ate full.
On the train, I could see myself, or a part of me that I’d left, in those gardens, walking down the paths with slow calm steps, free from the rush and the worries of the 21st century.