( I really can think of nothing else to post nowadays)
Govind’s little trip took him down to the little market sandwiched in between two large alleys that opened out onto the main street outside Ishwari’s house. He sighed at first, pausing for a while, uncertainty showing in an old puddle on the ground. Looking again, he spotted the poorer traders who sold their own people simple things, only those that they needed. The skinny little old man on the corner argued noisily with a customer about the price of his brooms. Noticing Govind’s eyes on him he waved, a smile spreading over his cracked lips.
Another man like himself, but younger with a large belly and a curly mustache swore and spat out a red wad of paan, enjoying the intoxicating contents within the leaf. His large shoe and slipper stall was a wooden contraption with a sturdy frame and a canopy of discarded sailcloth. Dutifully he and his assistants hammered away at the broken shoes that customers gave him to be repaired. One of the assistants tried to say something but the fat cobbler cut him off with one wave of his hand.
A beggar woman played with her young puppy as she squatted eagerly under her dusty and torn parasol.
“These are all your people, eh?” quizzed Govind, brushing his long, greasy hair out of the way as he gazed upwards.
Crossing the street, he saw the old building that’d been converted into a complex of shops. Dark and dusty though these were inside, the outside was welcoming, with strings of flowers and flower petals hung just above the vendors. Any flies that landed on the vegetables would be whisked away briskly with a bunch of horsehair fitted into a hollow wooden handle. Govind wasn’t really interested in buying anything much though. Why would he buy anything from here, from this place of the poor and downtrodden. This was the shudra part of the city, the place of stinking sewers, rubbish and plagues. These were the kings of those scavenging, grave-digging chandala people, those who had been trodden upon by both men and gods for many a long millennium.
“I am not one of you…”
The very though of his unfortunate and accidental ancestry made his tongue feel like sandpaper.Clenching his fists against the rising negativity, he started to imagine the large beds, the enameled jewelry, soft silk attire and carved ivory lamps that Ishwari had shown him…and he ached for her again. Her light footsteps and beautifully tanned complexion always pulled him in her direction. But he remembered how she looked after her bath one night before a major festival. The oil made her freshly scented skin loose and supple; the lithe dancer’s muscles behind her limbs and stomach and the large flare of her welcoming hips and bosom looked like they belonged on a goddess.
And she had smiled gently and invitingly at this poor young fellow off the streets…
But he had seen the dark shadow against the wall. A huge and shapeless mass lifting itself in the manner of a horrid vetala rising from its grave. He looked at her in fear as the shape seemed to consume her. The vetala consumed human flesh and blood, that he knew. But Ishwari smiled at him in confidence as she walked delicately towards her sari and bodice. Still the shadow remained…his voice could barely say it…”Mistress…Ishwari…” and then he sank to the ground.
She had looked at him confusedly, but then his fear grew and he backed away from her as she came towards him. “What’s wrong with you?” she questioned, puzzled. He had lost all feeling in his throat…and earlier that day she had been screaming at some nonexistent thing…
“Govind! Oi, Govind!”
The rough voice was music to him, cutting the memory out of his head.
The two sunburned men waved to him with large smiles and he promptly went over to the roadside eating-house where they were seated. “How’s everything eh? Rich people! Give you the works eh? Eh Hari?” The first man’s rough hand slammed into the back of the other. The vendor smiled bleakly but kindly at the two shudra workmen. Looking down at his feet, Govind pursed his lips.
“So how’s it all, eh?” the happier of the shudra continued to jabber while ripping off a piece of his chapati.
Govind had other things to worry about…
He finally walked on till he had to navigate through a very old part of the city, closest to the walls. He moved along the narrow path that lay in between the multitude of small, tightly packed, flat-roofed houses. His nostrils encountered a tender familiarity of sorts which tugged the strings of his heart forward. Running water was distributed throughout the city, that he knew. At least his people had that here.