We live in a crowded city. Tiny homes that house empty hearts and penniless pockets. There is more space for garbage than, lesser mortals. 15 of us live in a 150 square feet room beside the gutter right in the heart of the city.
I returned home with an excruciating pain in my back & joy in my heart. I had worked for two hours extra and earned an additional 20 rupees. After a long time, today, I will drink my favourite toddy to my heart’s satisfaction. I will force Ramu to make Chameli serve it to me today.
Last evening, at the bar, I followed a stray drop of perspiration from her neck to her lower back. She turned and looked at me as if I was a piece of scum and walked away with her nose in the air.
My hand ached this morning and my groin was sore. I wonder if the man who slept beside me heard me in the night. I am sure he did.
I have never spoken to him, he keeps staring at me hungrily. If he had a name, it would be akin to a stalker something like shikari or maybe a beggar, Bhiku? Who cared anyway?
I hung my shirt on the clothesline and went to freshen up. My heart was fluttering and romantic songs kept playing in my head.
Lagawelu jab lipistic,
hilela arra distric.
Tu, lagawelujab lipistic,
hilela arra distric jila top lagelu
ho jila top lagelu
kamaria kare lpa lap, lollipop lagelu
(When you apply lipstick the entire district is disturbed. Your waist is like a lollypop)
I came back, pulled out the shirt from the clothesline & left. Dreaming of my love, my Chameli. Praying she casts at least one gaze my way.
My lips were quivering out of fear and rage at the same time. Fear of being hit one more time & rage at that fellow…Bhiku…Shikari whatever his name was. How dare he steal my hard-earned money? I limped back to the room, my clothes were torn, my elbows & knees were bleeding. My eye was swollen and my heart was aching. Chameli spat on my face & Ramu beat me black and blue.
The next morning, I missed Bhikhu’s hungry stare. His eyes were closed as the municipality van wrapped him in a dirty sheet and took him away.
I found my shirt still hanging on the clothesline with my money in the pocket…I think I wore Bhiku’s shirt yesterday by mistake.
They will never find out how he died…
…we live in a crowded city…
Noone cares…things happen…
I’m participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018