she calls out to the man on the street
Sir ! can you help me?
its cold and I do not know where to sleep
is there somewhere you can tell me?
he walks on, doesn’t look back
he pretends he can’t hear her..
starts to whistle as he crosses the street..
seems embarrassed in being there !..
Oh ! think twice..
Its just another day for you me in paradise !
I switched off my car’s stereo player and parked the car in the parking lot. Its one of those winter days when you just feel that nothing is going to stop the cold from hugging your body if not the soul. Without having an iota of respect for the protection you have on yourself, she just creeps in as if the beloved had always had his hearts door open for her.
I had to get out of the car now. The car’s heater had also been switched off and now I felt a bit afraid to face the hostilities of the environment out there. “oh how warm is my car …” I mulled and opened the door. I checked myself again for I did not want to be the lonely sole out there that needed love from cold.
My brain clock told me it was part of the early morning … well it seemed a bit different, as there were indications contradicting it. Certainly, the constant rains and clouds cover were having an effect on me. There were people going here and there, although not that much in number. There were no birds, neither going east nor singing praise hymns for God … at least this is what I have heard. or is it some other way it happens?
The rain had stopped half an hour earlier. The clouds above my head were congregating again as if they never wanted to be separated. Congregating to tell their part of the grief ridden stories and then letting them flow in tears, maybe they want us to feel the same when everything gets soaked in them.
Well, I suppose I was right because I was welcomed by the bone-chilling breeze that kissed my forehead. I placed my head firmer in my body. Perhaps I wanted to have the assurance that it was there and not fallen somewhere due to numbness. I walked briskly, eyes on the ground, to my destination … my friend’s store. As I walked, I watched my reflection in the standing water that got lost due to ripples created by my feet. Maybe I was concentrating more because I did not want to look into the eyes of cold. I had my eyes grounded as if she will not see me … or was she really that interested?
Wait … where did my reflection go? The ripples have already been created … strange … wait … what is that ? small feet ? … whose feet are they? A pair of small feet had my reflection rippled ?
She was a kid, a child. “she is 9, no no she’s 7, perhaps 8…” She is barefoot. SHE IS BAREFOOT ?? why on earth is she barefoot? In this cold ?. I tried to look deep in her feet for the blood. Although I could not get a clear look due to the layers formed as the feet had not been washed but I bet there was no blood. How could the blood survive in such cold feet?
I raised my head more, as if I were the privileged one to have my head held above the rest, or in this case above hers. She was wearing a thin clothed dress. Dress? Rags would have defined it better. Her uncombed and dirty hair gave a reflection of trees that are left alone in autumn when their protection, the leaves, are taken away. Her hair seemed wet. Maybe an effort had been made to nourish the trees for leaf bearing or did she remain under the protection of the clouds above? Perhaps the wetness of her hair was due to the tears of the clouds when they were cajoling her…
Oh look at her, isn’t she pretty? the cuteness of a child is all over her face like an angel. But it somehow gets hidden by those dirty lines that run across her face making unread statements. Its like the sun who is covered by the clouds above. Perhaps the sun is there somewhere with all its brightness ready to lit up the whole world, but I cannot see that.
Her eyes said something to me … what was it? … Sorry, I could not hear … I looked deep down her eyes to ask again. Ah ! I cannot hear it, its so low … like a whisper. I searched her eyes. I felt as if I was being devoured as a whole. Why is that? were they in search of something? perhaps they were unnourished. I tried to hold on to myself but I was not being successful. I tried to get hold of something else but it was so dark in there … where did the lights go? … wait … What’s this? A broken dream perhaps. What is it doing in here? … I feel like I am drowning, drowning in the flood of darkness. HELP ! HELP ! no one is listening. How can one listen? My voice seems to echo back to myself, its like I am enclosed somewhere and there is not let out. Has my voice taken the shape of hers? whispers ? …. so silent .. Someone is coming … what is that? why is there so cold? Where is my breath?? I cannot breath … someone is choking me to death …
A Flash …
I was back to myself. “please give me some money. Please. I have not had something to eat since yesterday. Please help me for God sakes…”. What? What did she say? she was asking me something … her small, numb from cold hands were shaking mines as if trying to tell everything that there is .. but am I prepared to listen? Or am I deaf? Do I have the courage? Why cannot I listen? Am I not a human being? Have I not been blessed with everything by God? Is she a human being? Perhaps not … she has not been provided with everything….
“please give me some money so that I can eat something …” is she really asking me that? perhaps she is … perhaps she thinks that I am sent by God to help her? How could she think like this? Does she know it? Is God that close to her?
I searched my pockets .. no not here, wait wait, yes ! … there is something ..a Rs.2 coin? Look at myself …I was the one that had his head held high ….. A Rs.2 coin, what worth is it?
I gave that to her …. Suddenly, there is a whole range of activities on her face. Her eyes have lit up as shining stars. Like the sun given way by the dark clouds. She at once grabbed that coin and ran away !
I was still there … hey ! my reflection is back …. I think I should go where I have to go, my friends shop. She must be happy right? Or does anyone care?? The clouds are about to shed their tears ….