Footpath

It was a dark night, the street was filled with shrill silence, no voice except that of a dog barking somewhere in a nearby lane was heard, and all the lamps of the streetlights were intact except one that was ceaselessly flickering. Vijju was sitting at the edge of a footpath. He was sleepless, his face was pale, eyes red and mind thoughtless. He constantly stared two of his friends who were sleeping on the footpath across the road, dead-tired.

All of sudden a car came speeding towards the pedestal; the driver seemed to have lost control and rushed to crush them both. Vijju ran to his friends who suddenly woke up to the hurtling sound of the motor-vehicle and were blinded by the bright flashing headlights.

It was all over very soon. Silence crept in again. The car now stood still in the middle of the street; its headlights blinked incessantly. The two friends startled by the mishap were breathless as they saw a shadowy figure walking away from them. One of them took out a dear friend’s photo from a small bag that he used as a pillow, while the other said, “I wish someone had saved Vijju the same way on that fateful night.” And they both saw Vijju gradually disappearing under the flickering lamp-post.

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The Girl and the Fruit Seller

I saw a little girl with tattered clothes and bare feet carrying a 10 rupees note and standing next to a fruit stall asking the seller to give her a sweet melon.

“It costs 20 rupees” replied the seller.

The girl pleaded him to give her the melon with the money she had but the seller bluntly refused. Agitated by his behavior, I entered the scene and asked him to give her whatever she wanted to which the girl hesitantly pointed towards the melon again.

“Give her this”, I ordered pulling out a 20 rupees note from my purse.

“It is for 30 rupees,” remarked the fruit seller.

“A while ago you were selling it for 20 rupees”, I retorted

“Yes, that is only for this girl. For you, it is 30 rupees.” he answered.

I looked at the little girl’s face and held myself back, handed over 30 rupees to that seller looking straight into his eyes trying to smash him without words. He turned his face away. I waved a good-bye to the girl and she smiled.

Next day at the same time, I saw the same fruit seller with his stall across the street. At about 20 steps from where he stood was another lady selling fruits with several buyers around her as the man sat ideal watching the scene.

The first thought that occurred to me was ‘Karma’. But eventually thinking about it again, I realized that who am I to think of Karma and judge someone. Maybe he himself wasn’t making enough for a living and sought a sort of compensation from me the other day. Who knows? God knows better.

― Nazneen Kachwala

2nd June 2019

A Packet of Milk

I was getting late for office that day and was rushing back home on my bike after the morning routine when I saw a packet of milk right in the middle of the road. “Someone must have mistakenly dropped it”, I thought and slowed down a bit to find out who it was but couldn’t figure out and moved ahead. Then I thought of picking it up and giving it away to some child on the street who could satisfy his hunger. Having gone back and forth with this though once or twice I took a U-turn to pick up the milk packet lying unattended and just as I was getting closer, I saw a rider smashing the packet under his wheel. All the milk was scattered on the road before my eyes.

I gave an angry look to the biker but soon understood that it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t do that on purpose. My delay in making a decision was the real culprit. And I understood that all the good intentions make the least sense when you cannot take a decision in time.

Nazneen Kachwala

1st June 2019

Banana & Monkey

As I sat on the park bench one-morning breathing freshness and watching the children play while the elder ones were throwing their arms up in the air and relentlessly laughing and, two lovers were sitting under the shade of a tree speculating their future, a huge group of some 20-30 monkeys raided towards me. I didn’t move but in moments they managed to draw all my attention. There were big males in the group but most of them seemed to be young mothers with their tiny ones suckling them. Many of them had scarce body hair, fragile limbs and looked just a few days old.

As they rolled on the grass and pulled each other’s tails while climbing the branches of a nearby mango tree bearing dozens of raw mangoes, three men walked slowly towards these joyful creatures who scattered as they neared. The men brought with them some bananas to feed these mischief mongers. One held the bag of fruits, one distributed it among our cousins and of course, the last man adhering to the religious custom stood there with a mobile phone capturing all this in his camera.

All the monkeys gracefully took one-one banana each as it was offered to them and gulped it down quickly. However, the man was left with a few more bananas and wanted to get done with it. He went ahead to give them out to a mother monkey who was resting nearby but she didn’t look interested. Insisting her to have it, the man kept stepping closer. To her discomfort, she groaned showing all her sharp teeth and sprinted with her baby on the top of the tree.

Wait… what? Why didn’t she take an extra banana? Yes, she wasn’t hungry but she could have saved for later hours when she could soon be hungry!

Ahh…that’s what we do, not them. The mastery of these creatures to live in the present and care least beyond that amazes me and makes me feel stupid of burdening myself by stockpiling stuff and calling it life!

How exciting could our lives have been, how many mountains could we have climbed, how many places could we have explored, how deep could we have dived, and how far could we have walked if we went down to just the essentials!

In Search of a Place Called Home

It is iftaar time. Men decked in pearl white kurtas with traditional golden caps and women ladened with ornaments and crisp dresses, all wearing some itr probably from the land of Arabs are hurrying towards the mosque to answer the call for prayer.

At the doorsteps of His home, I see a lady in late sixties stretching a tattered dupatta with both her arms and resting her head at the hinge of the gate, aimless looking into nowhere with a still freckled face. There’s also a wrecked man in his seventies hopefully gazing at every face, a child who can barely walk and young girl with a husband to please.

God’s house is full of worshipers, and at the backdrop of the ‘pious’ preaching, there is a constant surge of chattering not matching with my chord. Men and women are restlessly waiting for the Azan to fill in their empty pits with butter chicken and kebabs while the little child outside cries for some milk as his young mother cannot lactate.

I am sure the God I know has vacated the place long ago and is in search of a place called home to spare Himself of being suffocated.