it is a true story,actually most of it.but the end is fictitious
It was a Sunday morning and his being a college student meant that this day was no different from other days except for the fact that he had defined some of the work of his routine especially for Sundays. He was coming back to his hostel after doing one such work. The sun was high on the sky and its ray’s had started to burn the skin. The temperature was rising and there was uneasiness in the air.
The black shade covering his cheek and little parts of his neck that was there about 10 minutes ago was now gone as he came out of the barbers shop. This was also one such work that he had defined for Sundays. The road back to the hostel, except for a crossing that was always bustling with cars and people (naka, it was called), was relatively quiet and pretty deserted, filled with people only when there were students all along the road, walking, chatting or sitting on stalls of lassi, sandwiches, panipuri and juices.
As he was coming back from the shop, he wasn’t looking at the road much. Even as he walked, his thoughts raced in different directions though his gaze seemed to be fixed on the road. He subconsciously gazed at the bullock-cart coming from the opposite direction, and then his gaze moved over from the bullock-cart to the lassi walla who seemed to be setting up his stall and crushing big chunks of ice that he was going to use to cool his lassi.
As he walked, his thoughts walked past his family back home, his girlfriend, how he would be graduating from college in a few days to go abroad and study further. Suddenly this place looking nice, feeling nice and then a gloom came over him for the single fact that he would be leaving a place and people who had been with him 24 hrs. / Day. He suddenly liked the hostel (though it wasn’t like he didn’t like it because after all it was like a 5-star hotel), the farm surrounding the hostel, the jingling of bells that were tied around the necks of bullocks drawing the cart behind them under the supervision of their masters and of course the cloud of dust that enveloped the roads for a brief amount of time whenever a rickety state transport bus went through the roads.
More than these things, he liked his hostel life, his friends, the life that they shared, the mock fights, the parties, the days when a single persons unwillingness to go to college pulled 15 people along with him and then the whole day was spent just chatting, all in a single room having the capacity of 3 people or watching movie (that also in a single room) or the favourite past time of disturbing friends when they were connected to there girlfriends via cell phones (or mobile phones as you may say).
He soon reached the dusty elevation walking through which he would soon reach his den and as he turned to take the route he saw her for the first time that day. On any other day, seeing her would be normal and an accepted part of his day and he would have ignored her as he did always. But today was different. As he was overwhelmed by his thoughts and emotions, he stopped on his tracks and looked at her closely.
She was walking down the elevation, stooped she was, she had the support of a stick, that stick looked as if it had been with her since ages and had always obediently followed her commands, more of a companion, taking the brunt of weather and time and the paths that she had traversed. It looked as her only support whenever she needed some help.
A scarf wrapped around her head that had grown black with dirt and weathered, small locks of hair that showed through the scarf was matted and caked with dirt. However she wore the scarf as if she wore a crown. A faded sari wrapped around her looked as if it was her armour and had taken and survived the beating of time and was yet faithful to her waiting for someone to relieve it of its duty. A bag hung from one shoulder and ended at the waist. It had holes gaping into the outside world waiting to be patched up.
The skin of her face was hanging loose making the face look gloomier than it really was. Her eyes had lost its glint with her age. The skin on her arms was too folded and the arm looked as if it was just a covering of skin over the bones. It had turned black with the incessantly long runs of her wandering in the sun.
It was then that he realised that she had been a part of his current college life, though a silent and a less significant and less relevant part of his life, but yes she had been there everyday. He remembered watching her as she took baby steps through the road that she traversed. She was ignored by everyone, almost everyone except a few who thought they did a great job by taking pity on her and giving her food from whatever was left of the last meal or last night’s meal or a Rs.1 coin, sometimes Rs.2 coin if she was lucky.
But it was like she was honest to her duty, doing her job judiciously and with dedication, she would always be there everyday going about asking for alms. It was like as if she was doing her duty waiting and thinking that she would be rewarded one day, maybe get a bonus. But suddenly one thought clicked him. He was sure he didn’t know where she came from and where she went to, even though he saw her everyday. This thought struck him hard.
She passed him as he was thinking about all this. He questioned himself: Did she ever feel happy? Did she feel sad? Did she feel pain? Her face wore the same expression all the time. Did she enjoy the raindrops on her face as he did on a monsoon day? These thoughts just wouldn’t stop. The whole day he couldn’t think about anything but that old lady beggar. The day raced by. Tomorrow was his last day in this place. Determined that he would surely find and end the mystery of the old beggar woman, he dozed off at night.
However the next day rose and was coming to an end, he being busy with all his work that had to be done before he bid a final goodbye to this 2nd home. He was about to go back to his family and home, things packed but something didn’t feel good. That is when he saw her going somewhere behind the hostel. Suddenly he remembered. Leaving the luggage behind with his friends and telling them to go to the bus-stand where he promised to join them in a few minutes; he broke into a sprint along the mud road behind the hostel where he had last seen her.
He gained on her with excitement and a tingling stomach and finally he could see her silhouette against the setting sun. He saw her now sitting below a tree with a group of new born puppies around her. She had already taken out some food wrapped in a paper which now was soggy and gave it to the mother of the puppies, a bitch that lay near to her. The old lady kept her bag near her and then placed her head over her crossed arms that had been place over knees and dozed off. It was as if she instantly went to sleep because she didn’t move even as he walked towards him. He walked up to her with a tear rolling down her cheek. The dog moved her head but didn’t bark or make any noise. He went near her with his eyes and heart full, slowly took out an Rs.100 note from his wallet. He placed it slowly near her at a place he hoped she would see and turned around to go to the bus-stand where his friends were waiting. His tingling was now calm and his excitement was replaced with satisfaction.