They say the feeling during snow fall is heavenly; not for me. The weather has been bad since morning. I have been having a very bad day on the foot path. No one has come out from the morning; I couldn’t beg. I haven’t had a loaf of bread from morning. I am going to lose hope if it continues for one more hour. My body is freezing. It’s difficult to move my legs. I have pulled some carton boxes from the dust bin of a nearby store and am trying to cover myself as much as possible, adjusting my body under the outer staircases of the shop to save myself from the snow fall. There is no one to help me. I have been lonely lately.

I am not aware of my father; Never heard of him. As far as I remember, my mother was saying that we were not from this place. My family was nomadic and had moved here after my birth. The reason behind moving here was the nearby market where we could beg and get something to eat. For first few days, the local people didn’t like us. They would look down upon us and try to send us away; sometimes by threatening, sometimes by informing local police. After escaping few attacks and surviving with struggle, my family decided to have a safer place to stay. There was a garbage dump in the locality. Due to the foul smell, no one used to visit that place except the garbage dumper truck from the municipality. We moved there to live under an old tent left by someone. I grew there. One morning I was very hungry. My mom had gone to find work. I went to the nearby market thinking that some kind hearted person would give me something to eat. When I came back, I found my life in a toss. There was a gathering and people were shouting. My mother was lying on the road. No one helped her with fast aid or tried to take her to the doctor. A car had hit her and run over her after she fell down. She was bleeding heavily. I cried loudly and dragged some people to help. No one bothered to help me. I was small. I couldn’t do it myself. My mother succumbed to death in front of me. I cried for the whole day and the night following that. When I came back the next morning, my relatives were not at the tent. They had moved to some other location. I was alone and didn’t feel like staying in that large tent. No one was there to take care of me. I moved to the market building, in the hope of getting some food to eat and a veranda to sleep. It’s painful for an orphan to survive in this society of cruel people.

Since my mother has passed away, I have been very afraid of the road. So, I keep off the road. I have been ousted by the shopkeepers many times, but I don’t know any other place where I can get food. No matter how far I travel every day, I am stopped by that one step: “If I forgot the way back, what will happen to me?” and “what if I go very far and do not find any other market place where I can beg and have no energy to come back? Will I die like my mother?”.

It’s late night. I am starving. From under the staircase, I could see only one escape. The building on the opposite side of the road was huge. There was an watchman standing and guarding that gate. He was also freezing. I thought he must understand my pain and let me inside for a warmer place. That hope added little energy to my legs. I crossed the road carefully and reached him. His eyes were following my each step while I was crossing the road, as if I am there to steal something from his master. He was getting ready to beat me when I decided not to go any further and stepped back. I came to the shop verandah and waited there. A big car came after sometime. They stopped by the dust bin of the shop and threw something wrapped in a plastic cover. I was happy with the thought that I would take the food as soon as they leave the place. I did so. I grabbed the cover and tore with me teeth. I had no time to open it slowly. To my disappointment, I found something slimy foul smelling thing; crap. I cried loudly for long, in disgust, at the insane people and their behavior towards the less privileged. Someone inside the closed warm room on the other side of the road would be rebuking me for my loud voice outside, as it must be disturbing his sleep. Gradually my voice went down with tiredness, pain and hunger. I hobbled into the carton again and slept hungry.

Do you still think puppies are cute? I have a bitter life. I do not want to be called a cute puppy from far. I need food and care to survive.

© Amaresh Swain