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A Ghost
A Ghost

© Kriti Mishra


4 Minutes   17.6K    147

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I wake up to Azan blaring from the loudspeaker of the mosque beside which I lie down daily to rest my limbs. We do not have dedicated meals, you see. There is no breakfast or lunch or dinner. If the resting of limbs aligns with a partially filled belly, I feel the day is well spent.

This is my favorite time of the day, though. Supposedly different people looking-alike, with freshly groomed-up bodies but sullen faces rush about in the same direction, like the swarms of flies. I overhear their conversations sometimes, or rather I would say complaints; complaints about the traffic, crowd or taxes.

I wonder whether they realize that they actually make up more than half of the things they complain about. For example, the crowd. But nonetheless, I head straight to the traffic jams which are my most profitable venues. I tap from window to window of the cars, where a person behind the wheel would look up in frustration and would thrust a couple of coins in my hand, careful of not touching me. I sometimes wonder how badly it would affect my earnings the day when they realize that not taking out a car for just one person might reduce these jams drastically. But I doubt that day would come, because how else would they prove to themselves more than others that what they're doing is worth something if not for showbiz?

After my peak business hours dissolve I sit in the corner of a park and savor my earnings. Often do I find a fresh newspaper lying in the dustbin that I pick up and spend some of my time reading. Yes, I know how to read. I taught myself. It provides me with an insight into the lives of my wage providers. I like whenever there is a fiction page in the paper. I get to travel to some far-off place, live a few lives before returning to my daily routine. My earnings still jingling in my pocket, I decide to grab something to eat. The vada pao that I used to have for 2 rupees and then for 5 rupees, now is available at 10. Nevertheless, I have one, and that becomes my meal for the day.

My afternoon is usually spent in trying to get a small share of the profits of the shopkeepers. I usually hit the small shops. The big ones have started putting men to keep off people like me. This wasn't my routine though. I used to visit houses before. There was a time when they were occupied by people more than they actually had room for. The doors were usually open, and if not for the adults, the kids running about often handed me some coins. Now things have changed. Houses are small, occupied by even smaller number of people. And forget about the doors, even the windows are shut tight. So when I get no luck with the shopkeepers, which is usually the case, I lie down for a nap.

The earnings of the day are now over as I hardly get any in the evenings when the swarms of flies rush back to their places. With faces grimmer and more sullen than the morning, I am usually pushed off with a chiding this time. The nights are pretty with the glimmering of lights. I like to sit alone near the pond overly grown with vegetation and observe the shinning bulbs all over the city while I have my supper.

There are more like me, hidden in open visibility among the roads, bridges, and sides of stalls. We are ghosts to the people behind those lights, floating around with no destination, occasionally making their presence known for some coins before disappearing into the luminous darkness. I slowly walk back to my resting place as the most of those glimmering lights go off and shop shutters go down. As I lie down and close my eyes, I hope to pop up in the fiction land from the newspaper, before the blaring of Azan brings me back to reality.

And thus, consumed by the darkness in the cranny beside the mosque, I actually do disappear for a few hours.

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