Life In A Pavement (Extract From My Upcoming Novel My Rides With Saheb)
Life In A Pavement (Extract From My Upcoming Novel My Rides With Saheb)5 mins 302 5 mins 302
“ I had not known how the buildings will look like inside, the pavements have been my dwelling all through out. Like migrant labor, we too have migrated within the city across various places from Nariman Point to Kandivali. Sometimes father and mother have done physical labor on the roadside, else it has been mostly begging near the signals. Since the Jogeshwari flyover was constructed we have been in these pavements. As I grew up, instead of direct begging I used to opt cleaning the window panes of the cars near the signal, some used to give me a rupee some five, and some ten too. This to me sometimes looked to be more dignified begging than seeking alms directly. Some Saturdays I have sold Mirchi and nimbu which people used to tie in the car.
What we ate was not really important as much as that we ate something. Each day was a separate struggle for survival. Begging comes with its drudgery too. Mental fatigue, anger when some throws at you stuff otherwise human beings would not have eaten, the fight for survival, the sexual abuse of young and old alike, spitting on our face used to be a common phenomenon. Sometimes the tendency to steal or flick someone’s purse was not the things one would be surprised of. Intrusion into the privacy of the adults was more common. Days pass by without having a bath too, either due to lethargy of going and collecting water from somewhere or otherwise. A meter of cloth, which moves up and down, based on where the soap is applied to, protected the privacy of the ladies in the pavements. Some curious eyes from the high rises or of people walking on the road would definitely have tried to peep to see the forbidden beauty of the pavements. But what better alternative we could have got, I was not sure. Hot or cold does not really perhaps differentiate our existence, maybe these extremities have made us more immune. Added to which the lathi sometimes hits us made the skin thick. A knife or a rod used to have its say in the general living too as it was fighting for existence and survival sometimes was under threat. The pavements had their own beauty too, commonness and the ability to share things I felt was more predominant. There were some living companions like dogs cats who were a burden to a few of the high rises when they became ill finding themselves on the roads. Living with us perhaps they were happier not only experiencing the freedom of living but also of being with us when they are old or deformed, though with starvation sometimes. The joy which we used to get when they wag their tales, coming and having a gulp of the bread thrown at us gave us joy, as much as drenching in the showers during the rainy days. The clothes used to have their own odor many times, which we could not recognize, as it has been with us days together.
Some evenings we did have the pleasure of burning wood sticks and the rice boiling in the open air in a small utensil especially at dusk, this was perhaps the only bright white spot in our lives, which occasionally used to happen when we have enough money with us. Sometimes when a Samaritan comes in a car either to distribute clothes or food, the hands which used to stretch were most of the times more than what the Samaritan wanted to give, as a few more from the nearby pavements watching from a distance run to find their way too.
In fact, these things did not appear like a struggle till such time I saw the other side story in the Ashirwadalay. We would live our way through, no aspirations, no tensions, no nightmares, no fear as everything we did was inconsequential for anybody around or for ourselves too.
Father-Mother had cuddled me through the younger days, as I grew and started getting a few pennies, either through begging to borrow or stealing, it really did not matter, I could see a smile in their face as the day's survival was through.
As the days were passing on like this, the dreaded night comes in as we were sleeping in the pavements, a rash Mercedes runs over us in the wee hours. God perhaps had scripted something different for me, while my mother and father collapsed at the same place, I sustained through some bruises. I perhaps would have been 14 years or so, not really sure about it.
No, I did not know how to grieve as have seen much death in the normal course, we being alive or not really does not matter to anyone, except that we too take a part of the sunlight and the moon does show some brightness where the lights are not lit. The body of my father and mother were cremated by the Govt officials in front of me. No there was nothing like doing a final rite or otherwise nor I had any tears in my eyes as till such time Saheb came into my life I thought it was all detached only. It was just that six hands were supporting each other managing three lives or sometimes more in the vicinity, now I thought only two would do. God was perhaps not willing to listen to this story