The Night

Foreword : After eleven days, I’m writing something just for myself apart from VOICES FOR DAMINI. As I settle in my bed all prepared for this winter’s coldest night, my mind drifts away to those outside – the homeless. This is about them.

The cold, biting winds chased her around. She had shifted base thice from evening, trying to find herself a warmer place to spend the night.
Just that morning, the police babu’s had evicted her and the other beggars from the shed near the Railway Station.

Nothing much. Such cat and mouse games were routine. But perhaps, this time it was ill-timed. Winter was at it’s harshest worst that night.

The fourth ‘shelter’ was under a tree and near some bushes, that provided natural warmth. But, it was right on the side of the road and vehicles that plied through the nights made sleep very uncomfortable.

But, beggars can’t be choosers. Literally and figuratively, too. She laid the cardboard cartons on the ground – a foundation for her bed.

Then the plastic sheets that she had collected all through summer – so long-sighted she was!

Then, looking around carefully to make sure that there was no one watching, she took out the warm blanket that she had carefully packed with plastic sheets.

She had stolen the blanket from her neighbour beggar just two months back. Survival was of paramount importance. Didn’t matter how.

Carefully, she made her bed, and settled in. Her body shivered momentarily at the touch of the cold blanket. Few minutes later, she felt warmer and began to drift away in sleep.

She dreamt of garbage bins full with leftover food. The dream made her warmer.
Soon, the procession of inter state trucks started. With the crossing of each truck, there blew a wind that shook her to the bone.

Add to that, the noise of their machinery and honks. She was up again. Uncomfortable and cold, she tried her best to wrap the plastic sheets around her tightly.

Insulation was scant and the mercury rose with the night’s progress. Past midnight, it was really tough and she thought she won’t last. Like Birju and Maina who left last year, she, too, would pass away in sleep.

Suddenly, she felt some soft warmth at her back and shivered. She rose her head to find that two street dogs had cuddled up to her, without much formalities.

In the darkness, she couldn’t see well enough to note their colours. But strangely enough, she felt better at the unexpected warmth.

She was not alone in this cold night.

That night, three creatures lay in one breathing, warm bundle and somehow survived the night. An unexpected, need-based friendship. But, somehow, still very beautiful.

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This entry was posted in Stories.

10 comments on “The Night

  1. soumyav says:

    Another touching one from you! a bitter truth!

  2. Trisha Dey says:

    You’ve potrayed this beautifully! Indeed touching!

  3. Beechmount says:

    Poverty, hunger and homelesness, some of the dreaded words that all too often describe the human condition. It happens everywhere, including North America, indeed even in my hometown here in Nova Scotia, although not on the scale you have in India, not even proportionately by population numbers. So many countries spend billions of dollars developing or purchasing arms and on infrastructure mega projects, the validity of which often are questionable. Powerty ranks very low on the scale of human development. It is a sad truth.

    Granpa

  4. Sometimes such harsh realities brings us to the realization that we’ve been fretting over petty issues instead of being thankful for getting a wonderful life.

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