Flies. More and more flies. Everywhere. Inside the glass cases that house sweetmeats. In the bedrooms where children, parents, babies, elders lie. On the terraces, in summer times of dust storms, and heat that dry the water that people throw to cool the floors before they lay out their jute mattresses and makeshift beds.
The flies stick to everyone. Stubborn, lazy. No one seemed to notice.
Like many other things that went unnoticed - the pavement dwellers, the children who pressed their faces against the windows of the car crying out
“Sir! Please give something? Aunty, a little money. Please auntyji, a little money. I am hungry.”
Summertime. Benares. No fish jump here. They die. Like people, dying in hundreds in this heat and dust of Indian summers.
Cotton flourishes. The only clothing that somewhat alleviates the heat. The only other option is to relieve oneself of clothes.
Nakedness however, is for the yogis adorning the steps of the Ganges daily.
Beggars. Vagrants. Matted locks on the Dashashwamedh Ghat, where each morning the sun rises on the squalor and excitement of the holy staircase.
It had no name. Nameless thing that resided in us. In all of us. Fear? Was it love? Desire? His father. His wife. His child. Here. Now. It was all he had. This moment, this location.
He looked down at the upturned palms of hands open, empty, on his lap. He stared at his life life. The astrologer had said he would have a long life line. It was broken up in one place, “maybe a major illness”, but he would recover.
His eyes looked out onto the bustle of the city streets. Vendors sitting on the pavements plying their trade of shoes, clothes and food items called out to pedestrians, steering their feet through, averaging the next clear space to move onward. Noiseless, moving images.
The past year had been tough on his life line. His ears were numb. A high-pitched ringing that went on for about a minute from time to time, reminded him that they were attached to his body. Before the ringing began, Saturday mornings were filled with the bustle of voices pulling and tugging at him to ‘do this, do that. Let’s go here, let’s go there.’
Here. Now. He took a deep breath and let it out. Long. Strong. He looked down again. His open palms, skyward facing were a comforting sight. A light dusty wind blew his way.