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A Cloth Bag
The car screeched, taking an abrupt brake, “Oi you! Watch your way out!” the driver shouted at her. She hugged the tiny cloth bag in her arms and mumbled back some apology. The car passed by her and joined unconcerned world.
It was somewhere around 2a.m. The night sky was clear; its little stars look-ing down on the road she was walking. She did not go back. She continued to walk.
She crossed the road and entered an alley. It was drenched with darkness and stench of rotten meat and stale urine. She stuffed her scarf to her nose to prevent her lungs from the pungent smell. But she made no attempt to escape. She did not go back. She continued to walk.
Nevertheless, her mind drifted back. Nearly ten months ago, she had been the happiest woman on earth. She had ambled down several roads with him; the
Busy road, the Expensive road, the Quiet road. But when it came to travel through the Filthy Alley, she was all alone. No light. No wealth. No love.
But a cloth bag.
Something slithered in front of her. She did not know what it was. She could not see. She made her way around it. But still, she did not go back. She continued to walk.
She passed the slithering thing. It seemed to be something long and darker than the atmosphere. But when she was quite ahead of it, something else slithered. Inside her mind. Something long and darker than the slithering thing. A string of Memory:
Memory of merely an Hour. Was it an Hour of Mistake? Of Crime? Of Sin? No, it was Love she thinks. Love bestowed on a wrong person. Trust thrust into a wrong hand. Being, surrendered to a wrong man.
She stepped into a puddle of muck. She tried to jerk the dirt off her leg but it refused to leave her. It was Dirt’s nature: it always likes to stain the victim perma-nently. Mostly, it is successful. Still, she did not go back. She continued to walk.
A window, in the paint less building next to the alley, opened. A streak of pale light escaped from there and someone dropped putrid vegetable peals, which fell straight on her. Instantly, the stink crawled up to her clothes and her skin. No bit of the vegetable peels had fallen on the cloth bag. But the smell, the mouldy smell, crawled onto it too. The window shut up and the streak of light vanished. It was nearly pitch dark again. However, she did not go back. She continued to walk.
Few weeks after that Hour, she had fallen. She had slipped on the rain water which that Hour had poured. She had stretched her hand to him, requested him to pick her up. But he had simply looked away from her, saying “I am sorry”. The rain water had drizzled on both of them that Hour. But the boy remained Dry, Clean and Safe. She, on the other hand, was Sodden, Unclean and Unsafe.
She reached the end of the Filthy Alley. A garbage dump sat squatted in front her. She quietly walked up to the short wall around it and placed her cloth bag there.
The cloth bag fell open. Small, fragile limbs pushed its way out of it. The baby had awakened. Its little face frowned as a weak cry escaped its rosy lips and simul-taneously shuddered on the cold, damp wall. It was the only bright thing against the dark atmosphere. Not fair, but white with innocence and newness. It had just stepped into the World and was not yet touched by its sin. It was a new born infant.
But the World avows that all illegitimate children are conceived with sin. Com-posed of sin. They are Stain in the society.
So this was its punishment. The mother somehow coaxed it back to sleep and turned to leave. She abandoned her love child on the wall against the garbage dump thinking that perhaps someone will find it tomorrow. Perhaps someone will drop it in an orphanage somewhere. Perhaps someone will forgive it for its Sin.
She walked out of the Filthy Alley with her scarf stuffed to her nose. The fol-lowing weak, was her wedding to another man.
She did not go back. She continued to walk.
The baby had fallen to sleep with the mother’s last touch. Its breath was serene and not yet disturbed with the garbage dump’s foul odour. It looked sinless. But they say it is Sinful.
The night sky turned cloudy suddenly; its stars hid behind the clouds in shame.