An Eternal Preparation

She scans every passing stranger, without exception. She frowns as she looks up at them with tired, sorry eyes. Her countenance is an epitome of her struggle for survival.

Lately, she seems absorbed in perpetual angst. Her duties as a mother have been excruciating. With life on the streets and 3 mouths to feed, every last morsel and every sliver of hope counts. She has to find new ways and new places to gather food.

Meanwhile, the kids jump around playfully. Nudging, pushing, shoving. Jovial brawls are commonplace, but they should’ve known better than to piss off their mom with them. They remain oblivious to her struggle and she remains detached from their fun.

It’s way past their bedtime; the streets were crowded today. All the 3 huddle together, tired after their brawls. They push, they nudge, they shove again, in an attempt to get comfortable.

They cuddle during sleep to stay close for warmth and look adorable while doing so. Loads of cuteness cramped into a small space. But only their mother sees, their chest heave to reveal their ribs, announcing the fragility of their bodies.

So she’s watching out for them, hoping that people won’t attack. Safety of her kids supersedes her will to fight. Motherhood has made her more controlled and patient.

It’s an act of eternal preparation. Preparation for a better future. A future that never comes. A preparation that never ends. But it leaves her with no choice. She cannot turn her back on a battle she didn’t pick.

She howls into the night, her sound breaking the silence of the streets. She has to spend yet another sleepless night staying vigilant, as her pups rest assured. Care-free and innocent.

Hope 1/3

Luggage is strewn across a little corner in the bus stop. Her clothes are all raggedy and her hair’s rubbish. People feel irritated by their presence and give them despicable looks occasionally. A little child wails in her arms, in want of milk. But she doesn’t have any. The child’s elder sister isn’t much of a help to her mother. In fact, she’s a burden. She’s busy staring at a stranger’s smartphone, gaping at it in fascination. She was once close to dreaming about having it, and that’s about the closest she ever got to owning it.

 

Long before she could fully marvel at it, her eyes fell upon yet another luxury. This one, she could never have dreamt of. She saw a girl, only a few years older than her, who had her arms wrapped around a guy’s arm…..her boyfriend. She had always despised men, more correctly, she was taught to. What her dad had done to their family was unforgivable, and her mom was quick to generalize her dad’s malevolence to all men. All men are the same she had said. Her mom had warned her to keep away from them, and so she did.

 

It was easy until she began to develop feelings for them. “Ehh! They’re not that bad”. But her mom’s vexed remarks still echoed in her head. “Men!”, she’d say with a sigh…..eyes rolled upward. She struggled to suppress the infatuation. She begged to differ from her mom, but couldn’t dare talk back to her. She felt crushed between her mother’s ideals and hers. But she decided to give up hers, cause her mom was always right.

 

Her thought train derails when a dog starts barking loudly at her mom. She tries to shoo it away, but the dog seems adamant. What a pity? Not even the dog was afraid of them. Earning respect in the society was becoming costlier than earning money. Those who didn’t know them despised them, and those who did know, just pitied them. Every passing day was a bitter reminder that they were on their own.

 

Amidst the shouting and noise, a bus comes to a screeching halt. It was what they had been waiting for. The bus was getting cramped and crowded as more people tried to get in. They quickly grab their belongings and board the bus as fast as they can. But not surprisingly, they were the last to get in.

 

They didn’t seem to mind. They had gotten used to it. But now was not the time to worry….cause things were about to change for good. The bus would take them to their village. They were going home.

The Old Beggar

Heavy luggage in each hand causes both my shoulders to droop. They have this incessant urge of falling to the ground, as if they’re troubled by their own weight and feel like laying down for a while. The searing pain in my arms is trying to pull my nerves apart. I briskly walk through the crowd in hopes of getting this over with quick.

 

I feel disgusted by the mob and the heat, “Why is the railway station this crowded so late in the night?”. Then my eyes fall upon an old lady sitting on the railway platform. She’s sitting upright with her legs straight out. Like sitting in attention.

 

She looks old and destitute. Her hair’s all frizzy. I don’t know if her saree’s always been brown or if it’s due to the dust and pollution. It certainly doesn’t look new. It’s half torn to reveal her legs up to her thighs.

 

She seems to be searching for something but looks up at me when I pass her by. She can’t afford to miss out on anyone. The rarity of a helping soul who can alleviate her grievance compels her to do so. Her eyes are teeming with emotions. Hope, fear, longing and distress. I pass her by quickly, before she could even begin to beg for help. Before her pleading eyes could bore into me. I’m a hypocrite.

 

I couldn’t help but wonder. Who would care about them? Who would want to help? How long until they get better? Will they ever? Would I be helping her by giving her money that brings her respite? Or would I be helping her by giving her nothing, to teach her to live on her own? I can never answer any.