Border towns. There’s something about them. You can smell the acrid impermanence in their dust. Life seems to be getting ready, always, for something, far away.
The milling crowd, do they know where they want to go? The one legged beggar with his crazed half grin. The vagrant woman in rags with the half dead baby at her breast. The soot dark immigrant kid with that menacing look. The puffed rice vendor with his assortment of oil stained dabbas. The gang of local goons, in cheap Rayban imitations, scratching their crotch while leching at passing women. The tongawallas with their eager offers of ferrying you past the border.
A single dim flame in a tiny puncture shop. The horse with blinders veers in panic as the headlights fall on its face. The kirana shop lady sprinkles water from a broken bucket on the road to prevent mini dust storms. The white heavy dust of gravel and cement lifts lazily, kisses your grim cheeks mockingly.
At the unmanned train crossing, a tentative train draws unhurriedly to the station. By the roadside, a wizened old man sells shrivelled vegetables.
You want to shake everyone out of their reverie, “Do you know where you’re going?”
What stops you is the fact that they could ask you the same question in return.