It is half past six in the evening. People are flowing to the Devi Temple to attend evening prayers, Deepaaradhana. On the stairs of temple was a man wrapped in rags-turned-blanket desperately trying to get the attention of devotees. A withered trembling hand is difficult to notice in the flickery lamp lights. Besides the crowd are in a hustle. Someone tossed a coin at our tramp. Unfortunately the coin rolled into darkness. A glow on his face suddenly faded. It was his dinner that ran into the night. Temple bells started ringing. The smell of agarbathis and burning camphor spread into the evening.The Nada opened and a grim-faced Pujari stepped into shimmering light. Devotees of all kinds, rich and poor, big and small, men and women and kids gathered around him. Soon the aroma of sweets cooked with ghee was in the air. Our friend lying on stairs twitched and rolled over into a dark corner.
Now it is almost eleven. Our Pujari is busy counting the Dakshina he received today. A wide grin spread on his grim face as he stacked coins and notes separately. Among the notes, there was a Five rupees note with a small hole in place Gandhijis head. He cursed the miser who cheated the “Messenger of God” with a mutilated note. He shall rot in hell for such a heinous crime! He threw the note away. The piece of paper bounced into the night. After packing the leftover Prasadam, he locked the temple and walked down the stairs. Some mantra on his lips.
He passed our tramp on the stairs. Hearing the footsteps he raised his hands towards the Pujari hoping to get something to eat. Well, his hopes were shattered once again. His helplessness was welcomed with the worst of swear words. May be the Pujari was a bit loud. The temple security, the local thug came hurrying down the stairs. Needless to say our poor guy was thrown out mercilessly.
He found refuge in a nearby garbage heap. There too he had to fight with the locals,the stray dogs and rats to find a place to lie. He stared at the sky. He saw the moon the stars and all those invisible Grahams (celestial bodies)) who were the sole reason for his current plight. His stomach gave a big growl. It has been empty for three days. The fever was taking its toll on him. He leaned towards the nearby wall. Then he saw a light. A light brighter than anything he has ever seen. He was tired. He closed his eyes. A long breath escaped him.
Next morning the municipal garbage truck had an additional waste to bear. An Unidentified Body rolled in rags. His death was drowned in the procession bearing the body of a convict, a murderer.
Nobody came to bury him. Nobody noticed his absence. His life and death was never known.
He was no one.