Delhi Metro – Poem of All Commutes, Chattarpur
On the 20th anniversary of Delhi Metro.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
The many lines of the Delhi Metro have stitched our vast, unwieldy, smoggy city into a multi-coloured embroidery. It has also rummaged its way into the fabric of our creative lives. The rail figures in films, music videos, novels, blogs, Facebook posts, and Instagram stories. Here’s an artwork by poet-commuter Jonaki Ray, who composed a new poem exclusively for us to mark the network’s 20th. Her first poetry collection, Firefly Memories, is releasing early next year.
Lives on lines
The windows of the Yellow Line snapshot history—the temples at Chattarpur, the soaring tower of Qutb that nods later to the new rulers—the MNC buildings, unloading armies of backpacks and blue-id-tags.
Taking a turn, at Rajiv Chowk, grey-uniformed children giggle, whiskering and filtering each other’s faces, while mothers balance against straps, their toddlers’ eyes widening in a rhythm matching the city striping on the hide-and-seeking platforms.
The couples defying gravity and knocking against each other like those roses in the pre-90s days are guarded by the women opening their tiffins. They munch their parantha-sabzis, timing their swallows to the stops until their offices.
At the borders—Rithala, Anand Vihar, Badarpur, Seelampur, HUDA, Najafgarh—women board the coaches holding hands, the men clinging to their dusty, rope-tightened bundles, the cracks in their heels testifying to their long journeys past and ahead.
The river trickles, gushes, narrows, disappears alongside like the hero in old Bollywood movies serenading the metro lines while workers continue to drill, laying further tracks and coding the city into new colours.
Two hundred years ago, the poet Ghalib had tried to console himself that there are cities other than Dilli, only to return to it, as if predicting all these lives passing from station to station, intersecting for a moment, and returning to this city that they call their home.