Stray Lives – Nipun Varma

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Author      : Nipun Varma
Company : UST Global

Stray Lives

They say when you are about to die, you see your deceased dear ones in front of you. Well, here I am, at my death bed. I don’t know if I can call this dirty road a death bed, but anyway, this is the place where I am going to die. I know at least that.

I don’t see any faces in front of me, all I see is a quick recap of my life which was cut short by that deadly blow.

I never knew my Father. I was taken away from my Mother when I was so small and all I wanted was her care and warmth.

True, I was well looked after, but still I missed her so much that I used to cry all the time.

They misunderstood me and fed me whenever I cried. After all, they never understood me.

As I grew up, I became friendlier with them. They were nice people. I got my own place to stay. Food was excellent and I used to get it right on time.

During the evenings I was allowed to go for walks, which I enjoyed very much.

Everything went fine till the day I met him. He was much bigger and confident. He had an air of authority. I looked up at him with a hint of respect.

He smiled at me and asked me about my whereabouts.

“Kid, you seem to be doing well, but let me ask you one thing. Are you really happy?”

Happiness; what did that mean? I thought for a moment. If getting food on time and having a nice place to stay was good enough, then yes, I was happy.

I mumbled: “Yes, I guess, I am.”

He laughed at me. I felt a tinge of anger. Why did he tease me like that?

“Kid, you are too naïve, you really don’t know what happiness is. Your life so far has been a big joke. You are a prisoner, but you don’t realize that. How can a prisoner be happy?”

“But, what is it that I am missing?”

“Have, you heard of freedom?”

“No, what does that mean?”

“Living life to the fullest, enjoying your life, you dictating your own life. A life which is yours and yours alone. That is freedom for me. You know why I am so confident about myself? Because, I have control over my life. That is exactly why you are so timid and confused.”

I didn’t know what to say. However, I felt the Big One had a point.

“Come on, kid. Do not wait for anything. Come with me. I will show you the real life. You are all alone now. You need company. You need a family. I can give you one.”

I said I would think about it and left.

But even after coming home, his words lingered in my mind. I was really confused. On one side, my comfortable life wherein I didn’t have to worry about anything. But yes, I was lonely. I had always been the odd one out. How nice it would be to have a family- my own family.

After days of deliberation, I took my decision. I wanted to break out of my comfort zone and explore life to its fullest. After all, I had Big One with me.

I left the place which had been my home for so many years. To my surprise, I did not feel sad. I was excited about the adventurous life that lay ahead of me.

He took me to his own place. It was crowded with my kind. Everyone there was so confident and self-dependent. I felt quite odd, but the Big One took me under his wings and there I started the second phase of my life.

I had to work hard for my food. No comfortable place to stay, a lot of running around to do; but still I slowly started enjoying my new life.

I, who looked like a pampered kid once, started looking like a ruffian- a true son of the street.

Sometimes, I had to fight for my food. Fighting with my own group was something that I could not understand initially. But then, Big One said, it was the law of the jungle. You needed to be fit to be able to survive.

Gradually, I became confident and I started believing in myself. I knew I got much stronger as well. The frequent fights had sharpened my reflexes.

One night, the Big One came home very late. He was badly hurt. He was attacked by a rival gang.

He was bleeding profusely. His friends and I stayed close to him.

Slowly, very slowly, he came back to life. Even though he was not able to walk properly, he was alive.

It took some time, but he was back. Still, I felt something odd about his behavior. He started getting into fits of anger in between. He also started showing violent behavior of late.

One day with no particular reason, I saw him attacking a lady who was walking through the road. She was badly injured, but a passer-by rescued her just in time.

I had a hard time convincing Big One that the attack was totally unnecessary. He did not seem to understand. Instead he got angry and he started attacking me.

It was then that I sensed the imminent danger. A man was right behind him, all I could see was the assailant’s shadow and a long iron rod coming down in a flash!

The iron rod hit the Big One’s head. Even before he could make any noise, his brain was all over the road!

I was so shocked that I did not have the sense to run away. It was only then that I realized my life was also in danger. I tried to run, but I heard the “Whoosh” sound of the iron rod coming in my direction. Before I could make a move, I was hit on my head.

“Bang” and then total blackness!

Don’t know how much time has passed, but here I am, back to my senses. I can see myself lying in a pool of blood, but surprisingly I don’t feel any pain in my body. All I have is a bunch of questions to those men who hit us.

What crime did we commit? Was it a revenge against Big One?

Big One was sick, just sick. He should have been treated and cured. You say you got medicines for everything, why didn’t you try to save him? Getting sick is no crime and killing him just for that is pure madness. You people are sicker than him. Cold-blooded bastards.

And what did I do? All I wanted was freedom. I was starting to enjoy my newly found freedom. I wanted to enjoy my new life. Your gruesome blow has cut my life short. Here I am, about to breathe my last.

We might have gone astray, but we too have feelings, we want to live, we want freedom.

You people who claim to be so intelligent, who appear perfectly normal, kill each other for religion, politics and what not? Even after committing bizarre crimes, your people get a trial in your courts. The courts, they keep deliberating on a decision and finally they leave the criminals scot-free citing the flimsiest of the reasons.

In your eyes we are mad, violent stray dogs.

But dear men, let me tell you. It is YOU who are mad, stark raving mad.

Here I go to the world of nothingness, but you will suffer.

You, the dogs of war, are on a killing spree- first you will finish poor ones like us. Then when no one else is left in the world, you will turn against each other.

Oh God! Please save these human beings. Amen.

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