Today I woke up like I wake every day. A shawl wrapping me as a quilt would wrap a child. My bigger toe jutting out from a hole in it. I rub my eyes and look for a tap nearby. Here it is, few feet away from where I sleep. Cold water, from a rustic tap, soaking my face and a breeze chilling me up. Closing the little pores on my face. Reminiscent of the breeze I encountered in the loo days. Days when the sun is on its peak. Fervent enough to bake the concrete floors that can make you dance when dare to walk barefoot. And, the loo thick with clay motes. I gargle and can taste iron from the water. Running down my spine, I might have drunk a little out of it.
The patches on my shawl are deteriorated now. And the wind these days is chilly. I can purge myself from the old kerchief I found from the pile of dust few months ago. On second thought, I can keep it for the next year. You don’t get such articles every time. It has no patches. Nothing torn up. Everything fine but the color. It’s faded. I take it out from my pocket and feel it on my fingertips. Its smoothness and the threads in which still lingers an aroma of richness. Aroma that I have never smelt before. I put that back in my pocket, hiding it like a treasure.
I look around for the breakfast. A vendor selling potato chips might help me. ‘Can I have few’ I beg.
‘Why not? Your father left some for you. Run!!!’ He shouted.
I stay still like a mannequin. Staring the stall. Wondering if he can still give me those. But, he is busy in his work. Chissssssssss. Chips make noise in the oil. Charr charr, charr charr he spices it up. I keep looking at it. Gulp the saliva down and take a handful of those. Running wherever I can. Burning my hands, I hear him swearing. I see a stone coming and I dodge it. Dodge it again. And, again and thakkk. The fourth one hits my ankle. It’s bleeding. No worries. I got the food. I end up running when I see no stone coming anymore.
Gasping. I see around, it’s a shopping mall. Rich people shopping with a stern look on their face. They buy like they work. Somberness in their eyes. Kids smiling. A girl, with balloons in her hand, is crying and pointing at a stall full of toys. That stall might be the biggest toy store in the city. All kinds of toys there. A doll wearing a pretty dress is on the top. Dress better than mine. A toy-car in juxtaposition flashes light. Blue. Orange. No red. Okay orange. And again blue. A police car it is. It can play songs and can run when you pull it back. How? The guy pulls it back and leaves. It runs forward. It might be the faulty set.
Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Peeep peeep. A van disturbs me. It is about to hit me. I jump on the other side of the road. The driver sees me back from the window and says something that I can’t hear. Abuse probably. I look down and the already worn out slippers are broken. I check my pocket to see if I have the money to get it cobbled. None. Nothing.
I take those slippers in my hand and start strolling barefoot. The ground is chilly. The cold intrudes my body from the little toes and reaches the apex. Causing me headache. I keep swerving and begging for the slippers I scrounge. But every time I chant, it’s for the food. I have crammed this one and can’t get it out of my head. Since I have started begging, I chant the same thing. My mother used to beg with me. Being an infant, I was the showpiece. My mother would show me to rich people and they would throw some coins for me in pity. Wondering I would get the milk somehow. My mother left me last year. She had an accident while sleeping on the footpath. A car ran her over. Crushed her like she was a box or something on road. I saw the car but I couldn’t jot down the number. I don’t know how to read. Neither had I known the car model. ‘It was big’ was all I could say before police. It was of black color I recall. Cars and I have some kind of relationship. My mother was killed by a car. And, I got the cool breeze from the car. A breeze thick with comfort and coolness in the hot month of June.
I intrude a building. Lots of doors here. I bang all and sundry and get some money from few. One woman offers me food. I accept it. Curry and rice packed in a plastic bag. Just the way you get from a food stall. I feel lucky to get here before someone else could. The sky is getting darker and the winds are getting colder. The shawl is also gone. Somebody stole it. I erred. I abandoned it for few chips. Now I regret it. Actually, I can’t think when I am hungry. All the wisdom comes from appetite, I reckon. I see a car coming, akin to the one which had the cold breeze. It stops just before me. A dark tinted window slides down and a hand juts out. A hirsute hand with a golden watch on its wrist and some money for me on the finger tips. It’s a note. A new, brittle green note that can make my living for few days. I grab it before it goes back. A heat coming from that car. As if he were cooking inside. But it’s comfortable. Just the way that cool breeze was. This car does magic, I say to me. And the person inside it is a magician. Aaabra ca daabra. And, the wind turns opposite to the surroundings.
I lie down on a foot path again. Many lying already. I have my kerchief and hundred rupees in my pocket. A person next to me is ready to share his shawl. It reminds me of mine but I don’t care. I close my eyes and sleep. Wondering this is how life is for everyone. Losing and gaining is a part of life. Today I lost a shawl but gained a hundred rupees note. So that makes it even. And like every night, I dream of me in that magical car with the peculiar air in it.