Is a bench in the central park of a colony in New Delhi? Though made of lifeless material, steel, I have seen the world from very close.
In the year 1994 I was manufactured with many other of my colleagues. When we were all ready for use, we were kept in a store waiting to be disposed off as arid when the demand for us would come.
Those days at the store I distinctly remember how, we all waited neatly stacked in rows for our fates to be sealed. The sound of footsteps outside the store would send our hearts beating pit a pat, wondering which one of us and how many of us would be sold, auctioned or presented.
Those days were of good company as, we were all together, and understood each other. I remember how, at times we even touched each other’s hearts and felt deeply for each other.
Almost every day some people would come and few benches would be withdrawn from the store. Since all of us looked alike, were of the same specified size, same colour and same material there was no scope for a choice by any of the customers.
We were handed over in the sequence of our places in the store, the front lines being given up before, while the rest continued their wait for the next customer. I remember that, I was placed in a row of twenty benches placed somewhere in the middle of the store room so, seeing the method of disposal of the benches, I clearly understood that my turn would come after a long time.
This did not worry me as, I was in the midst of several of my friends, and the wait was quite enjoyable but also tiring at times. I sometimes felt like breathing fresh air and get out of the suffocating atmosphere of the store room, but I had no alternative but to wait. After all my day would also come with this thought I would start feeling nice in the store.
After all, good days come to all and, at last one fine day my turn came. A few officers of the Municipal Corporation came and they wanted a hundred benches, to place in their parks in the town. The very thought of being placed in a park was very exciting and I wished that I was also taken.
The park, I felt would be so different from my present environment, from the dingy store, I would be in the fresh open air of a park. Oh! How wonderful it would be. Lady Luck favoured me, and in the hundred benches, I was also to be taken.
The pleasure was further compounded when I saw that my friends on my right and left were also going out with me, and I would not be going alone. Finally we reached an MCD park in a colony and, my pleasure knew no bounds when my friends were brought down from the truck at the same place, and I was happy to note that we would all be together. However, my pleasure was short lived as, at the park we were all placed at different places very far from each other.
We were placed so far from each other that we could not even see each other, leave aside talk to each other. I felt so depressed when I was fixed at a far off lonely corner of the park, under a huge tree.
At first I was rather sad to see the lonely spot and I did wonder how dull and boring life here would be. I thought people would never come to this far off spot in the park, and I would thirst for company.
However, my misgivings were cleared the very next morning. My being far from the maddening crowd became an asset for me instead of a punishment. I realised that, people who wanted to be alone always preferred me to my other friends in the heart of the park.
Contrary to the idea that I would get bored, I found life becoming very busy and interesting in this far off area of the park. I was a great attraction for romantic young couples, for artists, for writers, for students, and even for dacoits and thieves.
Above all I was the final resort for poor people who had no shelter as they would come and spend days and even nights, resting on my back. I soon became aware of many secrets of the throbbing hearts, of plotters and planners of crime, and of course, I got a chance of seeing life of poor people from very close.
I have been in this park for the last five years now, and my experience in this park is that, life is very kind to some and more than cruel to many others. At night almost every night, I provide a bed for people who have no shelter, and I feel so depressed to see man in this situation.
This leads me on to think as to where our country is going, what are we achieving? The romance of loving hearts, on the other hand gives me a thrill and I do wonder why all human beings cannot love. The beauty of the corner of the park excites writers and poets to pen their thoughts while sitting on my back.
This makes me feel proud of myself as, I feel that, I am being the succour for so many, the inspiration for others and solace for some. With so much of work to do and so much of service to humanity, I feel that, I am very well placed and would not like any change -I have been very lucky.
With the vagaries of weather my paint is also now peeling off and I do wonder when I will be repainted to look attractive once again to more and more people. I wish I can continue to serve humanity though I’d love to see more of affection in this world of crime and criminals.
I often long to meet my friends and compare notes with them, but, I realise that, this would not be possible, as all of us have different areas of performing. I sometimes do feel that my sphere of friendship has increased manifold, and I do not really get bored without the company of my other bench friends, as, I have developed many friendships with human beings.
I realise that, human friends are also not really bad company; they keep me alive and kicking, and inspire me to have a long life to serve the sea of humanity.