This graphic narrative depicts the plight of a pedestrian through the perspective of a person who has been a pedestrian for years in a typical Indian metropolis. The story depicts his daily struggle to move around in the city on foot, throwing light on some glaring issues of urban pedestrian accessibility. Coupled with recent studies that have shown that road fatalities in India to be at a gruesomely staggering 1.4 million people annually, this becomes a critical issue to be addressed. Pedestrians are the most common victims in any given situation, and account for 10% of all road fatalities. In some Indian cities, this percentage is as high as 40%. It is a common observation, especially in Mumbai, (where I currently live), of how Indian pedestrians typically bunch up against oncoming traffic, and cross roads valiantly in the absence of any essential infrastructure, like signals and zebra crossings (cross-walks). It’s almost a silent and compulsive uprising, a commonplace act of day-to-day survival.
Narrator: Everyday on the city streets, I become part of hundreds of quiet uprisings…To assert freedom to have something as basic as food, water and air…
Narrator: Against decades of apathy from those who pave the ‘development’… against the skewed planning priorities that aid and abet today’s oppressors behind wheels.
The struggle to claim public space for more than half of the urban population on the move within the city…on foot.
Narrator: Over the years, I’ve witnessed every situation that belittles us…corners us into cramped domains…
Narrator: that mocks us insensitively, encroaches our rightful path…
Narrator: or lays hurdles where there should be none.
Narrator: Conditions that force us within our own confines…or push us out to tempt fate at every step.
Every now and then, there are wake-up calls, that go unnoticed and nobody steps on it. The anger simmers day by day on the streets.
The sequence until this point is a flashback, setting the premise. The human figures are in the shape of that on a traffic-sign – A nameless – faceless – genderless entity as it is treated in the city-planning. Now, the narrative shifts to a present day situation of the narrator.
Narrator: Most of the time, the power of one is all it takes to cross the metaphorical line. Today, that one will have to be me… (A moment of choice for our protagonist)
A call to arms, or rather feet, with a stoic stance, and without a word spoken, is what always works…
To find safety in numbers, to find comfort in company while facing vulnerability. To stand united without class, creed or race.
Narrator: There’s no walking away now. I march against the oppressor, not looking him in the eye.
Narrator: I am the average pedestrian, and my right to walk is non-negotiable.