I was walking in a common street with common friends on a common day and I came across what I would love to call an uncommon sight but which was sadly as common as the rest of the instances above. I saw a string of guys with their backs to us, each separated by a few paces sharing their moments not over a cup of tea but over a bout of pee. I instantly averted my eyes, my mind off the delightful topic of desserts that we were discussing and on something ridiculous and eww-worthy.
“Aren’t there any urinals around?” I asked one of my buddies.
“Oh come on Queen Elizabeth! Where are you coming from? England?” And my friends guffawed, making me look like a prude, as if public micturition was something like eating in public or probably sneezing. I felt like I was out of the loop or out of fashion behaving like snooty high-end people who snort at people spitting or throwing trash on the road. Obviously there are dustbins around and there are urinals around. But the dustbins are so inconspicuous and so well-hidden one might feel as if they are a part of some treasure hunt. The urinals on the other hand are so highly maintained that even dogs deign to visit them. What with the stench killing one’s senses, filth covering the urinals which are otherwise abandoned and dirty, one would eject more out of one’s body than only what one came to excrete. So, it is not at all uncommon to see people following the dictates of their organs every now and then. Not that they follow every dictate of every organ. For instance, the pleadings of the belly go unheeded as we gorge on fast and furious food of all shapes and sizes from all places and corners. So do the entreaties of the lungs as some of us try to smoke them out of their job. But the kidney is a very important organ and we place it on a pedestal, swatting away etiquette and civic sense at its every beck and call.
Although it is de rigueur for people to excuse themselves when they sneeze or burp, it is not a big deal if they release their bladder tension in the midst of a road. I wonder that if women are found doing the same (I guess its common enough), they might run the risk of getting assaulted. Remember the Badaun rape case?
I looked back at the men, unable to extricate my eyes from that horrible line of people facing the poor wall which had to bear the brunt. I thought about confronting them. That would probably deter them or make them feel ashamed but the thought of ‘being assaulted’ assaulted me and I backed out. I don’t know if it was my mindset or the people themselves but I had a feeling that being men, they could strike back perhaps.
It was queer that I was feeling ashamed and not them. I felt like averting my gaze but they didn’t think it important to curb their actions. In fact, it wouldn’t be weird to find a lady coaxing her son to relieve himself on the road as it is bad to keep it in (better out than in). On the other hand, the daughter would be taught to protect her modesty and contain herself. I am actually perplexed as to what I am really against- the concept of public urination and indifference of people to civic rules or the fact that women relieving themselves in public would invite jeers and fears of rape whereas men could do as they liked.
As I watched them (I still had my eyes glued to them even as my friends had gone ahead), I found them sharing a certain comradeship like that of guys peeing together, in a single line, like brothers or something. I don’t know how they saw their actions-watering the wild plants, doing community service or just using ‘public facilities’ (in this case, road corners). I wanted to take a picture of them but then I thought no one would be interested. It’s the commonest thing in the city after sparrows and pigeons, which, though, are becoming less common with each passing day.