On My Way to Somewhere

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The dead pigeon is still lying by the sidewalk. From the corner of my eye, I see it — a bluish gray lump with a little splotch of white. I don’t bring my eyes to look at it fully, although there’s nothing gruesome or bloody there. It’s not roadkill, looks like it died of natural causes, whatever they are in pigeons. It’s like she — I feel like it was a she, maybe a mom like me –was tired so she sat down by the sidewalk, closed her wings around her like a blanket and never woke up. When I first saw her a couple of days back, I thought she moved ever so slightly. But then the sun was beating down on the asphalt and sometimes the heat makes you see things that aren’t real. What could I have done even if she was a tiny bit alive? Pigeons die all the time, right? Right. And yet, today, on my way to somewhere, I see her lifeless body and once again, my pace quickens. I cannot stop wondering what will become of her chicks, so I go home and hug my kids tight.

#

On my way to somewhere, I see the janitor from my old apartment complex walking towards me. He looks different when removed from the surroundings I’m used to seeing him in. He’s on the opposite side of the road and going by the approximate speed at which we’re walking, I will surely run into him. The back of my neck is suddenly itchy. It’s a narrow street, there’s nowhere else to go. I rummage through my bag for my sunglasses, but they’re at home. Should I smile at him or not? He has held the lift open for me a few times when my hands were full of grocery bags or when I was pushing the baby stroller. Maybe I should. But will it be weird if I smile at him now, after we’ve moved away? People get wrong ideas sometimes. Makes me think of that grocery store employee I smiled at once and then he used to follow me around, always wanting to help me, a bit too much. I stopped shopping there. Will it be rude if I don’t smile at the janitor? I’m not snooty. A few seconds later, we’re right opposite each other. He walks away without a blink of recognition, helping me yet again by making the decision easy for me. I silently thank him.

#

I know that girl on the escalator going in the opposite direction. She works at Guzman y Gomez, the new Mexican place at the mall. Her eyes are heavily lined in black. She has a drink in her hand with a white bendy straw hanging by the corner of her dark maroon stained lips. Her t-shirt screams “Badass” in bold. She’s leaning against the escalator on her elbow, rolling her eyes at the world. And yet, on her (and my) way to somewhere, she steals glances at everyone, probably to check if anyone’s noticing her. I smile at her, but she doesn’t. Not unexpected. The following day, I’m at Guzman y Gomez getting takeout. Her eyes are unlined. She looks younger, happy even. I’d like to think its because I noticed. Maybe. Just maybe.

***

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

10 thoughts on “On My Way to Somewhere

    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thank you so much, Sue! I experimented with this form for the first time and I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it.

      Reply
  1. Jen Mierisch

    I don’t know if this form has a name, but I really liked how each section was similar (passing by someone or something) and how each one seemed to lead into the next sort of like a stream of consciousness.

    Reply
  2. Shilpa Gupte

    Hema, I loved this one immensely! I could actually see the pigeon lying on the sidewalk, the janitor walking towards you, and that girl with the bright lipstick. It felt like I was there, with you, watching these people, and that bird, as we walked on our way to some place.
    I wonder when I will be able to write this beautifully!

    Reply
    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thank you so much, Shilpa! I experimented with the mosaic form in non-fiction for the first time and I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply
  3. Asha

    I really like the way you wove together this mosaic essay. You did such a nice job of the non-linear timeline, and it’s rich in vivid imagery. My one small critique is that the connective theme, the so-what gets a little lost in the gorgeous wealth of imagery.

    Reply
    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thank you, Asha! I’m really glad this essay came together, I was worried it wouldn’t make any sense at all, haha. I might have gotten a little too caught up with the form, I’ll have to dig out the so-what after voting ends. Thank you!

      Reply

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