“Stop staring at her”, whispered Maya in my ears, “It’s rude.” Admonished, I trotted back to the corner of the street without protest and continued foraging for food as I was wont to do every day for the past two years.

It has been a few years but I still remember the day I met Maya. My parents and I were crossing the road that ill-fated day when a drunk driver rammed his vehicle into us. Dad was lucky, he had an instant death. Mom died a painful hour later because no one came to her rescue as she lay bleeding on the road. Miraculously, I did not get any injuries at all – at least no physical ones. As I sat there sobbing and trying to comprehend the magnitude of tragedy that had befallen, I felt a warm breath on my shoulders. I turned around and with my tear-stained eyes saw one of most angelic faces I have ever come across. Maya, barely a year older than me, was there to rescue me. She asked me follow her and I obeyed.

She stayed in a makeshift accommodation on the footpath barely a few meters from the spot my parents’ life had come to a brutal end. She took me under her wings and taught me ways to survive. Begging, foraging, stealing; we did everything it took to survive on the harsh streets. There were days we cursed our stars as we saw other children like us sitting gleefully as the cars that housed them zoomed across the road, trying to put their heads out of the window to feel the breeze while their protective parents would try to rein them in; and then there were special occasions when some kind-hearted human being would serve us food and we would eat to our hearts content.

Geeta was one such human being. She had just moved a few weeks back and had taken up a rented accommodation in the building down the road. Every day for the past week she had shared some biscuits with Maya and me on her way back home. Today was no different. She had crouched near the sidewalk where Maya and I were waiting and had shared sweet biscuits, two for Maya, two for me, and two for her. Once the three of us finished the biscuits, she waved us goodbye and started walking back. I was staring intently at her retreating frame when Maya’s rebuke broke the trance.

“I guess I am falling in love with her” I sighed. “Yes of course”, laughed Maya, “I am sure she would reciprocate the feelings.”

“Really?” aroused by the mere thought, I asked.

“Are you kidding?” Maya’s sharp retort hit me back. “Do you see even a modicum of similarity between you and her? You are acting even more stupid than usual.”

“Nothing else matters, only love does. I am sure she loves me too. Why else would she bother to share her food every day?”

“Pity, maybe.”

“I hate you.”

“But I don’t. Can’t you see the obvious? Geeta and you are very different. Do not mistake kindness for love.”

Angry, I kicked away the dusty beer can lying near my feet. “I will show Maya”, I thought, “Tomorrow is when I apprise Geeta of my feelings”.

The night was exceptionally difficult. Lying hungry on the cold footpath under the dark, polluted sky I couldn’t stop myself from staring longingly at the flicker of light streaming out from the building which housed Geeta. With a deep sadness in my heart, I drifted off to a dreamless, terrible sleep.

Morning arrived after a full night of tossing and turning. “Never again”, I promised myself as I got up from the spot I called bed, “I will be sleeping in Geeta’s room tonight”.

A full hour of grooming later I presented myself to Maya. “How does my coat look?” I asked her. With an expression which fell somewhere midway between pity and love, she nodded her approval.

Finally, there she was! The setting sun provided the perfect backdrop as she walked towards me down the road. Little rays of sunlight flickering through her hair gave her the appearance of a diva. I could feel butterflies jumping up and down my stomach. It was now or never! I jumped in front of Geeta and conjured the best puppy face I could, half expecting her to shout a few words of ridicule and move away.

“Here you are”, her sweet words felt like manna from heaven to me, “Don’t you look even more handsome today?” she continued while offering the customary packet of biscuits to me. “You must be very hungry. I am so sorry I got a little delayed. I won’t let it happen again. In fact, I have an even better idea. Do you want to stay with me? The two of us will stay together and you won’t go hungry ever again.”

I couldn’t believe my luck! My biggest dream was coming true. Overwhelmed, I couldn’t even react properly. I just somehow managed to nod my head in approval.

Geeta and I walked together to her house. However, once inside, a nasty surprise awaited me. “Mohan, I am home!” she shouted.

She lived with a partner! My whole world came crashing down. I just couldn’t imagine why Geeta would bring me home despite having a partner. Terribly agitated, I wanted nothing more than to kill Mohan right there. Baring my teeth in anger, I waited with bated breath for Mohan to come out.

Mohan, that puny human shrieked in fear as soon as he saw me and retreated back to the bedroom. “Geeta!” he cowered, “Please take this animal outside, I am mortally afraid of dogs!”

“I am so sorry honey, I won’t bring any dogs home going ahead”, Geeta replied, as she picked me up again and placed me outside on the road before she shut the door firmly in my face.


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The above story is an entry into the writing event(Feb. 02nd – 20th) hosted by ArtoonsInn: #PullTheRug #UniK-3

Event rules and guidelines: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/pull-the-rug-unik-3-writing-event/

Check out Kumar’s space here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/author/kumar-harshdeep/


Photo by Patrick Hendry

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Kumar Harshdeep
Kumar lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter and manages operations for an eCommerce firm for a living. When not working or playing with his daughter, he can be found binge-watching Netflix shows or cuddled up in a corner with a book on Indian history/politics.
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