Over The Edge..!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
...wrote this upon a bet i made with my friend....unfortunately we both lost... :p
...It was supposed to be for National Competition that i couldn't enter.

Submitted: January 08, 2012

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Submitted: January 08, 2012

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It was the moazzan’s call that stirred me first. Then the little chirp of a bird in a nearby tree that brought me out of my daze. I awoke from another sleepless night on the cold pavement, another thoughtful trance that I often lose myself into most nights. As I take a long walk down the memory lane, I stride into the boulevard of distant dreams and pave my way into the streets of the past that remain as ever unchanging. The shadows and silence of the night, accompanied by my relentless solitude make it all the more easier for the old memories to unfold themselves in front of my eyes. They provide a shelter and warmth from the cold that I bear all day, all night, walking hither and thither on the streets of Rawalpindi.
 
As I crouch into a sitting position, resting beside the old tree, I look towards my right. The night guard would soon be coming this way, going off to the mosque to offer his morning prayers. I wait for him to pass, and when he does, I nod my head towards him: our ritual greeting. He walks on and I sense the same pity on his worn and tired face as I see most days when I spend my night on this corner of the street. I know he feels sorry for me being old and homeless. I am too degraded even for the old houses to take me in.
 
Another half hour passes and I begin to see the first rays of sunshine passing through the trees and illuminating the sky. But I know this that even with the sun shining bright and sunny, it would be colder later in the morning. The very thought of it makes me shudder and I wrap the thin coat around myself tighter. It was proving to be the coldest winter in Rawalpindi that I could remember. 
 
In just a few hours time, the daily routine of the residents of this street will start. The owner of a shop far down the lane would soon come out with his son. A little girl would be carried on a cycle by his older brother to school. Later, the banker dressed in his usual black suit would emerge in his blue cultus and pass me down the lane. Everything happened as it usually does. Except for the little girl, not one person passing me by cared to glance at me, to nod. 
 
Having spent nearly a year here, they had all become accustomed to my presence below the old tree, covered in rags with my dust beaten face. Now and then, a housewife would send her maid with a roti, and that would be the entire meal of the day for me. But I was thankful still for having something, and quietly mused over the days when I enjoyed fast foods with my children and wife. Ah, those were the days!
 
Seeing me in my present condition, not one person would believe me if I told them who I was, and what I was. I had not always been poor, or homeless or living in a state of famine. There used to be food on the table three times a day. I had a wife and children, I had a home. I had a salary that was the envy of my cousins living in the village. Once upon a time, I had everything.
 
But it has been years since then. I have lost everything that I once cherished, that I once held dear to myself. It is only me with myself now, living a life of a destitute, played by the hands of fate, at the worst state of poverty. 
 
The sun is rising, but giving no warmth. Instead the wind has quickened its pace. I shudder. Ever so slowly, I get up from the torn rugs that serve as a mattress. I make my way down the road, looking over to the houses. From most balconies, I can see maids tidying up. Breakfast has already been eaten. I know the guards would have changed shifts by now. And Mrs. Riaz’s gardener would soon be arriving, as well as the milk man. Having spent nearly a year here, I might be more aware of the resident’s routine than they themselves. Whenever there is even a slight change in the schedule, I know something big must have happened to prevent them from following the strict routine they have set for themselves. 
 
These rich people, they are so absorbed among themselves, so uncaring about the rest of the world. They live in their own protected shell. A slight diversion could create panic in their perfect little world. I often laugh at them for it amuses me how carefully they plan their every day, every minute. Who knows when the life might end, when the world might come to an end? Its moments like these when I thank God I was never this rich. I went by pretty well, but I did not have two cars in my porch, my children studied in an English medium school that did not demand too much fees. I lived a contented life.
 
Immersed in my thoughts, I never heard it. The tires screeching, the brakes wailing, it happened so suddenly that I never had time to react. It hit me the next instant and all I could feel was the wind in my face as I went flying over the vehicle and landed on the pavement. Something cracked. My bones I think. And the ever last emotion I had within me came out as a chuckle. For the perfect routine of the residents would surely be disturbed now. Panic would be created in the houses that lined the street where I just breathed my last. And I wondered if they would ever care to make personal enquiries as to who I was. I mean, I had been their neighbor for almost a year now.  
 
People gathered all around. I lay there, limp, not an iota of life left in me, staring through the lifeless eyes at the grey pavement, at the shadows that formed on the road of the people standing there. In a while an ambulance arrived and a police squad car. I was shifted, finally, to my last destination, my permanent abode. After living six crucial years of my life over the edge, I finally crossed over completely. 
 
The mornings of the street would never be the same. The night guard would look over and find no one to nod at or feel pity for. The little girl would not be amused by me. And the rest, the rest would surely now glance at the spot where I used to be. Where I used to sit, unnoticed. 
 


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