Something nasty had happened a few days ago in my side of the city but it got so hot in the nights so I decided to leave my bedroom windows open anyway. Light breeze blew and past the flimsy green curtain I could see tiny stars in the black sky. It was past 2 in the night and I was thinking of the nasty thing that had happened a few days ago. Someone had said something to someone else and as things happen everyone got angry and blood was shed. Children still continued on play on the red streets but there were fewer people out in the night now and that is why I lay here in my bed and I was not out with my friend talking about our dreams for the future, discussing how we would get out of this rot hole and make it big, real big.
Sleep was just about to wrap me in her arms when I saw the little child clinging on the iron grills. He struggled to get inside, one thin hand in and then a leg and soon he was sitting on my bed staring at me with his big grey eyes.
“Yellow, yellow, gold gold” , he began to chant. “Gold, gold, gold, yellow, yellow”
In another world my heart would have given away and I would have died of fright on seeing a little child in white climb through a grilled window on to my bed. But not today, not in this part of the city where I lived. I touched his cheek, pulled him close and went to sleep.
The streets were empty that night too but they had brought us many gifts. Each house had got a gift and some gifts were bigger than the others. I pulled the hood over my head and silently walked through the narrow alleys stopping now and then to look at the locked doors. I could hear some kids laughing and playing in balconies but none were to be seen on the road.
“You are late”
I looked up and I could see my friend.
“You have to see what they gave me”
I climbed up the rickety stair to his terrace. He had always looked handsome in his blue overalls. I hugged him and then I saw the green monstrosity lying in a corner.
“It is so big”
I touched the cold metal body and was amazed at the size of this gift. Next to it lay a long cylindrical box. I took out the gift out of the box and put it on my shoulder.
“Be careful with that one, it is very sensitive and it will come back to us”
I rolled my eyes at him.
“You know I don’t like when you do that”
“I know but you can’t do anything now, see what I have in my hand”, I giggled. I usually did not giggle, in fact I never giggled except with him. Well, that was not true. He wasn’t anyone special. He was just somebody I knew, someone I had grown up and I had to tolerate him till I met better people. Looking at him standing there with love and hope in his eyes I felt sick. He was good and he was handsome, also nice and kind but he quite didn’t cut it. He smiled at me and began walking towards me and past him I saw the little child in white, the child from my bedroom trying to climb over the parapet.
I stumbled and I fell back.
“What did you just do?”, he ran towards to me, helped me get up and we both looked at the big cylindrical gift tearing through the clouds into the sky.
“You know it is going to come back to us right?”
I picked up the little child in my arms and together with him, the three of us ran down the stairs into the street far away into the unknown as my friend’s house exploded behind us.
The year was ’93. We were in Mumbai. My friend was a Muslim. And a few days back some Hindus had been shot in his house.
A few months later I was seated near a lake and I was taking down gold ornaments off my body. It had been a long tiresome day and I had done good. Why could this just not be it, why did the night have to come, however did it come to this, I was going to see better days and make it big, real big and I was going to meet better people. I used to roam the streets in night free as an independent person of our sovereign country, when did I start dreading the dark?
The other girl seated next to me kept a hand on my bare shoulder, “it is time to go, they will be waiting for us, you did good today“, she said. I looked at her and sighed. I thought of the little child in white who had crawled through the grills in my window chanting gold, gold, gold, yellow, yellow. I laughed in my head. I had the gold, I was covered in yellow for most part of the day and in the night it all came off and that is what I had come to dread.
Do you know what it feels like to be dead inside and living everyday, day by day? Do you know what it feels like to give away your freedom of mind, to give away your thoughts, to be dead and feel nothing in your head or on your body?
We walked to the inside room of the temple. They would be waiting there for us – men of god, sinners of skin. What a bunch of idiots, those people who believed in the sayings of these men. If the believers saw them like we did every night, they would give up their beliefs for good, or perhaps they would not – one has to be a perverted oneself to place faith in such obviously commercial shenanigans.
We, me and her, we walked to the centre of this tasteless sacred chamber and sat by the fire, they could not see that the fire was not reflected in our dead eyes, they were just staring at our naked breasts. It was going to be like every other night, tonight I was going to die a little more.
There was a knock on the door. One more person, I thought.
Someone got up to let the one more person in. I don’t know who it was, it is difficult to see with dead eyes. I heard the door creak open while staring into the fire and then I heard a roar.
And then I heard them scream.
I turned away from the fire to see a flash of yellow.