The darker side of light

Posted: November 25, 2012 by Ankur in Writes...
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I walked. I was humming a song to myself. A sad song- Bleeding Love. The singer was pining for her beloved. She spoke of how they keep trying to pull her away, but her then she kept bleeding love, because her lover had cut her open. I thought I could relate to her, except that I was bleeding blood. The gash I’d inflicted upon my wrist was slowly but steadily draining my veins. I was glad though, that I could not see it. It was too dark for the trickling red drops to be visible.

Suddenly, I stumbled against something. The thing woke up with a start. It was a homeless boy, probably my age, sleeping on the pavement, wrapped up in tethers- his version of a blanket. He looked at me and smiled. What could possibly make him smile in the dead of the night after being rudely awakened, I asked him. He was dreaming a beautiful dream, he said- one in which he could sleep for as long as he wanted. One in which he did not have to wake up at 4 am to walk to the brick kiln to work all day long and make his way to a slow death from dust poisoning. He asked me, “Yeh subah hoti kyun hai”? 

I smiled at him and tried to move on. But the pain in my wrist was beginning to numb me. I wanted to walk ahead, but as long as there was even a little bit of life was left in me, I was a slave to the commands of my body. I leaned against an ambulance parked nearby. I looked at its insides. It was one of those well-equipped ones, with life support systems and a very comfortable looking bed. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many lives did this ambulance help save everyday? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? The life support system, that soft bed- did they really matter when you were dying? At night, the ambulance was just another vehicle, waiting patiently for the emergency to occur the next morning. If it had a mind, would it have wanted the sun to rise the next day, bringing with it yet another crisis? Somebody’s mother, somebody’s brother, somebody’s child battling for life… the ambulance saw all this everyday. I wonder if it ever got as sick of its life as I had gotten of mine. 

The blood from my wrist was still dripping. I looked around. I could see the silhouette of my city against the night sky. The city I loved. The city that I hated. It looked beautiful now. All I could see was the minaret of the mosque nearby, with a huge statue of a Hindu God in the background. I had never seen a sight more divine, more touching. I was thankful to the darkness of the night, for I had seen what the same scene would look like in the daylight. 

Suddenly, I saw a light go on in the minaret of the mosque. I heard the azzan begin, and realized that dawn was breaking. My body had gone completely numb, and I felt the last dregs being sucked out of the
cup that was my life. I lay down on the street, when
suddenly somebody stumbled against my body.

It was the brick-kiln boy- the boy who loved sleeping, the boy who hated daylight, for that meant working in inhuman conditions. He was in a hurry, he did not recognise me. Besides in the dark I doubt he’d seen my face too well. Suddenly I wished I had not slashed my wrist. I wanted to live. I turned my face to look at the Hindu God behind the mosque- In the pink light of daybreak, I could see the idol that had been defaced by the members of the community whose mosque the Hindus had painted black during a communal riot. I asked Him to send the driver of the ambulance to me, to take me to a hospital where I could be saved. But no miracle happened.

Later in the day, as the sun shone down upon the city, bathing it in a warm light, people found my lifeless body lying next to the ambulance.

Arpita Nandi

Amrita School of Engineering / IBM India Pvt Ltd

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