Another Day

Theirs was a small house in Sonarpur, just a few hours away from main town Kolkata. But it was their own house nevertheless. A simple two-storey structure with a little front garden and a backyard with a garage for a car that they would surely own one day soon. But how many could boast of their own house in this day and time?

It was enough for Mukut, his wife, Sudhi and their two children. It was their pride and the envy of their friends.

It was just another morning. The bed-side clock glowed 5:00 AM. Time to get ready for work.

Sudhi had already woken up. Mukut could hear her moving about in the kitchen. It was a weekday and the children had school. It was a new school in Sonarpur where all the rich kids went. Well, it was expensive but that was no reason to deprive their children from fine education. And then, he was not a good-for-nothing father. He would do his best by his children, and he would see to that they get the finest.

Mukut got up from the bed lethargically. Today was Monday, so naturally he was feeling tired. Effects of the gruelling day before. Holidays were the days they had to work the hardest, those are the days they raked in the most.

Sudhi and Mukut worked in the same place. They always took the early morning local to Kolkata. And then a minibus from the station to their place of work. Usually taking a taxi worked better but it didn’t help. It was a luxury with far-reaching effects, and then, the bus was more than fine.

Mukut drowsily trudged to the bathroom, yawned at his reflection in the mirror and scratched his beard as he wondered what he wanted to do today.

After half an hour, he came out of the bathroom dressed for work. Sudhi was already ready.

“Here is your wrap”, she said as she handed Mukut over his overcoat.

She was already wearing hers. It didn’t make sense to get out of the house in the ways they dressed for work. Even though they always left early, you may never know when some prying neighbor was watching!

“Have you taken the money for Rao-sahab? It is Monday, remember?”, Mukut asked.

“Yes, I have put it in the pocket of your pants.”, Sudhi replied.

It was a few minutes past 6 when they hailed a rickshaw and left for the train station. The children had already left for their morning school.

Sudhi had made lunch for them both that was tucked possessively under her overcoat. Mukut and Sudhi usually would meet up and have their lunch together. It was a habit and a superstition.

The train was mildly crowded, the real crowd would build a bit later in the day, a reason why Mukut insisted on an early train. They sat hunched together at a corner, unimpressive and unobtrusive. Mukut made sure that they never attracted too much attention, he liked being ordinary and avoid close scrutiny. 

“Sudhi, do remind me today to talk to Balahari-babu today,” Mukut said, “He is yet to return our money.”

“His shop is doing well, he told me last week,” Sudhi assured him, “I think he’ll pay us back within the next few days.”

“And will probably give us free paan for the rest of our lives.”

Sudhi joined him in his laughter with the ease of two individuals who had been each other’s support through the worst in life.

At the station, the boarded a red-yellow Minibus that was almost empty and huddled at the back seats. After a few minutes, when the bus had started to move, and the conductor had given them their tickets, Mukut took out two dirty packages wrapped in plastic and handed one to Sudhi.

In similar actions, across from each other, they started setting their hair, Sudhi smudged some black color under her eyes, Mukut rubbed some color to his hair and brought out a stick.

After a while the conductor called out, “Park Street!”

Sudhi and Mukut got off and walked to an old banyan tree. They took off their overcoats and stuffed them into the dirty plastic bags and pushed them aside. Underneath the overcoats, Sudhi wore a red and yellow, dirty and torn saree and Mukut sported an ugly, brown shorts that showed off his skinny legs and a grey vest full of holes.

As the dirty, bereft woman walked right and the limping old man dragged himself with a stick the other way, Sudhi called out, “Suniye, put some more ash in your hair, okay ji?”

Mukut just nodded to show he understood, as he limped over to a man getting off from a white, glossy sedan and said, “Baba, do din se kuchh nahin khaya, allah ke naam pe kuchh de de… Baba…” [I haven’t had food for two days, in the name of God, please give some thing…]

Another day had just begun. 

It was a story in the newspapers a few months back in Calcutta, that beggars had actually been giving out loans to small businesses and of course, small bribes to the police in ‘their area’. Some of them also have constructed houses for themselves in the outskirts of the city. Indeed, begging seems to have become a lucrative “profession” nowadays. So, it made good fodder for a fiction-like blog post. Smiles, Guria.

About Guria

An Artist in Science: A Misfit 'cause I choose to be one. "Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform" And a Maverick, because, I'm... umm... brilliant?
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2 Responses to Another Day

  1. RGB says:

    A gripping tale, it was! I was ready for the climax, though I thought they might have been scavengers or at some such 'menial' job. Heard of similar true stories, where beggars who became lakhpatis, lived & died as beggars!


  2. Neha says:

    arre baapre! I didn't see this coming at all! and it is a true story? oh god!


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