I DON'T have a name, I am just one among the millions inhabiting this city getting wet in the rains. There are a lot of times when I don't exist at all, you have passed me a number of times on the way to your office, never pausing to give me a glance of recognition. But then I don't hold that against you at all, you with your squeaky clean clothes and your polished shoes. You have your own trains to catch, your own life to lead in your tiny encapsulated worlds, you have your own boogey men to be scared of and so have I.
Now that you see a picture of me staring at you, you pause, you try and recollect where have you seen me before and you say to yourself, "oh yeah, I THINK I have seen that face before". Its now that you notice the lackluster eyes, the deeply etched lines on my face telling tales of the ravages of time, the varicose veins spread over my legs like forks of lightening tearing the sky asunder and you see my scrawny arms clutching the sheet close to me. Its now, that you realize that there is a man behind this sheet of plastic. You see an old wizened man squatting on his haunches, waiting.. waiting ... It's as if my picture is forcing you to think, think of me and peer closely trying to unravel my story.
I wasn't born this way. I was born in the rural country, leading a simple country life. I had a family and brothers and sisters. We were simple farmers eking out a simple existence. We didn't have much but we had enough to go around. I was young and strong, and I was a good farmer. Every year we waited for the rains, sometimes the Rain God smiled and the times were good for all of us, I would sing and dance, drenched to the skin like a small child laughing in gay abandon, watching the parched earth drink from the heavens to its hearts content. Then sometimes the Rain God would go off in a huff, sulking and there would be a drought and death all around, the only water that could be had, would be the one welling up in our eyes, as we watched the dry earth.
Then there were times when the Rain God would wreck all its fury on mankind, flooding the fields, causing havoc as the waters destroyed everything in sight. All we could do was pray and hope that the Rain God would forgive us. We were basically simple folks and life hinged around the whims and fancies of the Rain God.
Then there were no rains, no rains for 6 long years and my family broke up under the strain, we didn't have food and I moved to the city along with a lot of people from the adjoining villages to look for work, like an exodus driven by just one thought.. Survival.
The city is huge and for a few days I was totally disoriented, I watched in wonder the lights and the tall buildings and the shops lining the roads, trying to imagine what sort of people could live here and afford the rich clothes put on display. The nightlife was something else too, the bright dazzling lights would make mockery of the night, you never felt that it was night. It was afterwards I found out that the lights are intentionally kept bright so that they dazzle your eyes and you DO NOT see the filth and squalor behind the lights. I sometimes think it rains here so that the rain god can make the city clean because nobody does farming in the city anyway.
An entirely different life exists here, an intense fight for existence takes place every moment. You are lucky if you get work today because tomorrow is far away, you thank god that you eat, for you never know when you might have to go hungry. But we all survive each day, its like when you open your eyes in the morning you know you are alive and you will live for the day else you wouldn't have opened your eyes at all.
No .. NO .. I am not morbid at all. I just speak about what I see and what I live everyday, I seek no sympathy nor do I want you good people to pity me, for I have lived my life, have seen the joys of youth and the illness and the feebleness of old age. I have seen a lot of seasons come and go, have seen a lot of people depart, the only thing which has never left me alone are these rains. Even now as I sit here patiently waiting for the rains to stop, I thank the Rain God, because come to think of it, I make more money during the rains as people like you, hate to walk in the rains and get their clothes dirty, and I get hired to ferry them across. Pulling the carriage is a bit difficult in the rains but I don't mind at all - coz I know I WILL EAT WELL TODAY ...