Saturday, 28 March 2015

Guilty

It had been raining for two days at a stretch. My usually bright room had started to look gloomy and there was a light stench of rotten food in the air. I guess it was coming from the common garbage heap outside.

Image credit: FirstPost
No, not the neighbors’ fault. It was just those municipality people. Well, they hardly showed up. And adding to my woes, there was no electricity in the locality. The place I used to love had suddenly become a pain in the rear. I had lost my umbrella and there was no way I could go out or call a friend over. I was bored to death and helpless. My phone was dead, the battery in the laptop all drained out. I was hungry, but there wasn’t any food in the refrigerator. All I found were some old biscuit and a big, dusty packet of noodles. Not bothering to check the expiry date, I just cooked some and gobbled up a bowlful. Nothing so far had tasted any better, I swear. Satisfied and full, I lazily dumped the bowl in the sink and myself on my cosy bed.

Sleep is a tempting state, I must say. All the big pour and the gray room were slowly taking me into a deep slumber. I was enjoying it....lazy me! I wasn’t bothered about anything then, not about the not-so-favorable times, not about the mountain of work back at the office and not even about my nagging mother. I was actually feeling good that the phone wasn’t working. At least I didn’t have to stand the curt remarks of my boss or answer my mother’s hourly rings to inquire if I was okay.

Then suddenly, shattering all my peace, came a huge knock at the door. I sat up on my bed, almost getting a brain freeze. Pissed off and bitter, I reluctantly went to the door and checked through the peephole. It was a child, a boy, 10-12 years of age, all drenched in rain. He knocked again and this time with more desperation. His hands were muddy and so were his torn clothes, eyes sunken deep into the orbits, face unclean and feet without shoes.

Beggar! I thought. Of late, the locality had been facing this problem of bugging beggars. I was pissed off more! Just as he was about to knock again, I opened the door sharply. “What do you want?”, I snapped at him. He was taken aback and slowly put a shaky hand forward, too terrified to speak. “I don’t have money. Now go”, I snapped again and slammed the door. I checked again. He was still there, much in a state of shock. Then, suddenly he gathered himself slowly walked away. I watched him till he was gone, and then I heard a faint cry... “I was just....hungry."
A sudden surge of guilt overpowered me. I opened the door again. But he was already gone, the rain making it impossible to see further. That night, I could not sleep at all. I tossed and turned on my bed like an insomniac, wishing I had taken back my words. I could have given him my share of noodles, maybe the whole packet. I could have made him take a bath and give those sunken eyes some sleep. I was full of remorse. The rain was slowing down and electricity was back. All the possible reasons of my gloom were gone. But, my mind wasn’t calm. Time and again I could hear his voice, mocking me, cursing and taunting me. What had I done??

Morning came like a sharp blade of heat. The rain was gone, my room bright again. I had stayed up the whole night and was feeling sluggish. Nevertheless, I got up from bed, took a bath and had a quick breakfast of my old biscuits. I was having a terrible headache and desperately needed a painkiller. So, I dressed up and headed towards the chemist shop nearby. The streets were still muddy, but the grass was cleaner and greener. The rotten food in the garbage heap was still stinking. And, I could see a small gathering of people, probably discussing the issue.

As I was walking past them, I heard one of them say, “He must have eaten something from the dustbin.” With a thud in my heart I stopped and turned towards the heap. There he was, lying near a trash bag, a rotten piece of bread in his muddy palm. His mouth was slightly open, a layer of whitish foam dripping, and his sunken eyes, wide open. He was looking at me....yes, at me, questioning, accusing. I could not take it any longer. It was as if the sky was crashing onto me, my surrounding fading. The ground no longer held me firm. I was blacking out.

I had murdered him.