A 19-year-old,
her father and mother,
standing in a queue.
With two files,
67 documents,
267 photocopies,
one water bottle,
two ball pens
and a watch
with non-moving hands of
minute, hour and second.

They are standing in
the admission line
outside the university gate,
waiting for their turn.

A grandmother,
her 50-year-old son,
three grandchildren,
a basket full of beli (jasmine),
a scorching sun above,
sweaty handkerchiefs,
aching elbows,
and one question–
will this line move?

They are standing in
a long queue,
in the non-VIP section,
outside the temple,
waiting for their turn.

A five-year-old,
with two bruises on his head,
dozing off on his father’s shoulder.
Behind them,
an old man,
on a wheelchair,
neatly arranging his prescriptions.
Behind him,
a woman with a baby bump,
angry, sweaty,
shouting at the person
at the counter:
Humara number kab aayega?”

They are standing in the lobby
of a government hospital,
Waiting for their turn.

“Line me aaiye,”
said the bank manager at SBI, Navghar.
It was November 8, 2016.
The day all of us had to stand in line,
the day all of us were ‘waiting for our number’,
the day the line just didn’t move.
For hours,
for days,
for weeks.
The day 73-year-old Vishwanath Vartak,
from Navghar, Mumbai,
collapsed and died,
on the spot,
while standing in line.

Waiting for his turn.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty