Rooftops in the night
Narrator: While the world is in lockdown and not a soul stirs on the streets. There are a few who still venture out. They are the ones who like to defy any sort of order. Some call them anti-establishment, others call them unbelievable… they simply are the ‘Restless’ lot.
Titli: Who should we scare tonight?
Upla: Titli, I think I am in love with the one in Gali 73.
Titli: Love? Don’t you have enough problems in your life yet?
Tammy: You are always in love Upla! And just like your name you are shit.
Narrator: Depending upon your place of residence in Delhi, Shahdara may look like a shit hole or a peaceful colony. It is a place where every gali has a community leader and caste lines are drawn well before even a child takes birth. It is anything but peaceful on the inside. Every home has a rebel and every gali has a wannabe superstar though almost none survive the realities of time and society. In the end, they all give up and become another brick in the walls of Shahdara. The buildings stand cheek to jowl and leave not even space for air to pass through. This is a quintessential urban jungle where only the tough survive. Or so they think.
Upla: Tammy even the sewer of Gali 73 is cleaner than your mouth woman.
Tammy: How dare you call me a woman? I will break your bones and feed them to the crows on the cricket field.
Titli: Enough both of you!... Its such a nice night. Stop fighting already.
Tammy: Fine! I will break your bones later. Let’s first watch some live action of those newlyweds in Gali 22.
Upla: That uncle will be waiting with a gun today if we show up while they are doing their stuff. Plus the way his poker hangs, its sad and not funny.
Tammy: See he always has to go against what I say and you always take his side. You guys never do what I want.
Titli: Let’s go to Gali 17 and get some goodies. Maybe aunty has again forgotten her bottles of squash on the roof. Then we’ll decide. Okay?
Narrator: The police roam only in the streets but the rooftops are a highway for these three. They cross buildings across little more than ghosts. The whole of Shahdara is open and available for them any time as they may want. But rooftops are a dangerous route. One misstep on a loose tile or a misjudged jump will not only break bones but can easily take lives. But our daredevils have known these routes for almost forever. Each tile is is their friend, each roof is a buddy, every building holds a story that it reveals only to them.
Titli: Ohh! Sharma uncle is again going to his sister-in-law’s room. Let’s first have some fun.
Tammy: Yes. And this time I shall start the noise when he starts his thing. Shh everyone.
Upla: You wait! I will start the noise just a fraction of a second before you do Tammy dear.
Titli: Upla Noooo... Don’t you dare create a scene now. I know that glint in your eyes.
Titli (Thinking): I don’t need another fight. I have enough of that waiting at home. I will start the noise so that there is no fight.
Titli: OHhhh! OHhhh! OHhhh! Sharma is a CHEATER. CHEATER oye!
Narrator: And then they run. Thus they move on from roof to roof. Having their own sort of fun viewing forbidden things, tasting inaccessible delicacies, and avoiding the law.
Titli: Why do we build our happiness on the misery of others?
Upla: I didn’t take your chocolate. I swear. Tammy took half of it.
Titli: I was not talking about the chocolate. I know you guys took it. I just do not want to go home. The roof is fun.