ANOTHER DAY IN RAGHU’S LIFE

The damp hangs thick over the playground. If you could call it that. A brown, bald patch of flat mud at the center of Lake Camp. The park of the 3rd
generation Bangladeshi refugees. The recreation of the season now is football, complete with painted penalty boxes, wooden goalposts and even the odd
spectator and street dog.
Wait, there is even a man watching from a high-rise just behind the shanties. This man looks down today, as he has often in the past, with keen
interest as the noisy proceedings continue a hundred and fifty feet below him.
A sane man would have looked askance at him. What is a man like him studying bustee football so keenly for? Such a man would have concluded, “This guy
is peculiar and probably a good-for-nothing”. As things went, not a bad conclusion to make today, thought Raghu.
Raghu was in deep shit, with a floundering law practice and a huge mortgage hanging over in the cloud above his head. In addition, his family was on
the verge of breaking. Any day now.
A loud cheer went up from the ‘stadium’. A soft pass faltered in the middle of a patch of slush. Orange went for it, scampering over a fallen Blue,
and darted to the goalmouth and dispatched an anemic kick that was stopped dead by Undefined, the goalie.
As the ball was sent back to the other side, the players rushed and slid past the generous slush of Monsoon Kolkata. A tenuous fight ensued between
Gravity and F-Max. Inevitably, Gravity won in the end.
As blue smoke slithered through the grills of the verandah, Raghu watched with quiet bemusement as Orange, the right-winger dribbled the ball past a
five-year-old boy on a bicycle. The little boy, unconcerned with the near miss, continued sucking his left thumb as he expertly cruised toward the
Southern penalty box.
In the dying minutes of the match, both teams were sweating through the mud to score. As luck would have it, the Red striker got the ball on the
Southern half, saw a gap, and smartly kicked the ball to the goal. Just as the goalkeeper dived in desperation to his left, the thumb sucking kid came
busily in front of him.
The ball brushed the kid’s head and deflected into the goal. Undefined’s jump knocked the junior off his transport. Off came the thumb. The little
head hit the ground smack. A soft, Indian thud. And went still.
Frantic cries soon erupted from the huts at the sidelines, soon changing into prolonged wails. The dead boy was rushed to some Government
slaughterhouse hospital.
Raghu continued to watch the scene, frozen in space save the burnt out stub in his fingers. He was not surprised at his apathy. He was used to living
with it. Too bad others were not. He thought to himself, unwitnessed by the dwellers below, nor the ones above, “This is it. I have to stop finding
meaning in this life. Maybe I will be different in the next.”
Only the lock in the grill prevented him from jumping down the verandah to join the excitement below. Apathy loses the key to Life, he thought. And to
Death.

One response to “ANOTHER DAY IN RAGHU’S LIFE

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