This short-story by Rittvika Singh is a poignant tale of life and its struggles portrayed through the eyes of a common man.
Badu shivered as he felt a chill in the air. He stood barefoot at Shambhu’s pan-shop, “ek the pukar de da,” he requested Shambhu for his brand of gutkha. Shambhu tore a little pouch from a long chain of pukars and threw it his way.
November should not be this cold. Baap re! His eyes met Vakilsaab and he ducked ceremoniously for a pranam. “Aur Badu?” Vakilsaab mumbled. He picked up the cigarette from a greasy brown counter, paid from his wallet and walked away. Badu was preparing words and was ready to utter his reply but he left. He had been storing many unspoken replies anyway. There were many answers already frozen inside him. That if he decided to explode someday, his language would fill the world and his voice would travel at least to the end of a galaxy, petering into a whimper and then a long yawn over the years. Soon this Diwali season would be over, there would be no work again. Two contracts were all he had and they might get him through the winter. By Basant Panchami he would put up a golgappa stall, but he would need money for that. He needed more work. Couldn’t these houses be whitewashed at night? Days were getting shorter for him. There was a long trail of questions that rested inside him and peeked occasionally. There were voices in two different dialects with two odd faces that pulled him apart. Badu tore open the gutkha and emptied it in his mouth, right below the tongue. For a moment he stood there studying a rotten mouth printed on the wrapper. What a waste of a man’s tragedy!