Far beyond the cacophony of the bustling populace, on the meandering lanes that lead to the outskirts of the city, dwelt a beggar. The undulating lane overshadowed by an old bridge had been his abode since an unknown time. A small iron chest which contained a bunch of tattered clothes, few match boxes, broken jars and other abstract articles which perhaps had never found any use in the past years had been his few paraphernalia . The bank of the sordid street walled with the massive bridge had protected the poor beggar from the extremities of the sultriness of the tropical summers and the battering monsoons. A patched thick plastic cover that he had accrued from the trashes served as the roof when the rain water seeped down the olden bricks and wetted the soil floor.
He often went up to the yonder town-market and earned a few pennies by doing the odd jobs at a sweet shop. The money made helped him to eke a living for the next couple of weeks. It was his indolence that had consumed his youthfulness and restrained him from working. The dung cakes that he made served as the only fuel to make his meals. He sat himself on a heap of wooden planks infested with mites and relished his meager meals.
An irksome stray dog often came wandering to the estranged beggar and perturbed his tranquil living. He threw at him a handful of his half cooked rice and as soon as it portcullised the last grain in between its canines, he kicked him away. It often whined or barked back but returned again the next day. The dog was perhaps the sole companion in his deprived exile, though unwanted and despised.
The sultry summer had begun to retreat and the squalling monsoon clouds had started roiling the cracked summer fields. Water trickled down the crazed roof of the dilapidated bridge. Water flooded the streets and the old plastic roof had become too old to hold the monsoon water. The nippiness of the sodden air made the beggar ill. He hid himself underneath a tattered blanket and a polythene sheet. However, the unkind rain water invaded him through those numerous holes in it.
The dog strayed around the sick man and whined aloud but he hardly twitched or moaned. His sickness was exacerbated by starvation. The man lay in unconsciousness. The dog too starved. There wasn’t a morsel of grain! The feeble frame of the beggar was too frail to pick him from the illness. The only live object his eyes could perceive was that petulant creature but it too disappeared!
He slowly raised his blanket from his weary countenance and his eyes probed into the farthest corner till which they could see. The dog had gone! He slipped back into his slumber. The clouds ruthlessly poured down and drenched the streets more. He had slept for hours in unconsciousness and hunger. There was a sudden push on his head. He dragged down the blanket from his wizened face. It was the dog. A couple of loaves of chapattis firmly clenched between his teeth dangled from his mouth. It was the only piece of food that he had found. It laid the loaves on the ground and waddled away. After a while the man mustered himself up and nibbled on them. The rains had begun to cease by then.
The ill man slipped out of his wrecked dwelling, wrapped in a dank shawl and made his way towards the town-market. The rains had expunged the fields and the streets appeared as a grave of the dead
remnants. Broken trunks of the trees, heaps of shards, reeking trash and lifeless carcasses of rats and lizards bordered the wet streets. And there slept the annoying dog, dead with cold and hunger!