It was that time of year when everyone packed their bags with bottles of vodka to go outside and celebrated with friends or some stay with their family, cut a cake, hug their children, spread warm smiles in chilling cold while many watchmen like me wear a jacket, a cap to protect our mortal body from immortal death for non-living things to get a living. There was no choice for me, each day I had to warm myself from that roadside fire in order to warm my pocket just a little.
When I reached the front gate of society Munna had already packed his bag. He looked at me and smiled. I hated to see him going back to his house at night to his sweet wife; although he earned less than me he was far happier than me. For me, there is no one to go home to, alone I wander in this pitiful life. In fact, I had more company here than home as Moti was always here, my one and true companion.
“Wish you a happy new year dada,” Said Munna.
“You too, now go and enjoy.”
“Ha, you too,”
“Yes, yes tonight I and Moti will roll on beer.”
Moti sat at one corner looking at Mr. Mishra’s house. The night was fading in and 2019 was drawing closer. Moti was looking constantly in fog when Golu arrived with a blanket in his hand. He had grown thin and weak and looked like fragile leaves of an undernourished tree. He looked at both of us with hollow eyes and gave me a blanket and carved a smile and said, “Happy new year.”
“You too, my dear child.” I said and as I took the blanket I saw ring-shaped mark on his middle finger made out of burnt skin, and another mark similar to it on his thumb.
He looked at Munna and said, “Please stay.”
“What happened little guy?” asked Munna.
“Nothing, just stay.”
“Golu!” Damini screamed from her house. I saw a flicker of fear in Golu’s eyes as he turned and started walking toward her. He walked slowly like he didn’t want to go there. He looked at us once again and smiled and faded away in the fog.
“Why he wanted me to stay?” Munna said.
“There is something wrong.”
“His mother is wrong and he is scared, that women shouldn’t do this,”
“Are you going to stay?”
“Hell No! There’s no chance of me wasting my night just because her little boy is scared of the person with whom her mother indulge!” Munna said as he picked his bag and left.
It was 11 Pm when Mr. Mishra’s car arrived at the gate. I was sitting beside the fire, full resolute to ask Mr. Mishra everything. Though unable to master the courage, as I opened the gate he accelerated the car but stopped it as Moti sat on the middle of the road. I didn’t have the courage to ask him what was happening but Moti looked resolute and his eyes forced me to pat on the car window. Wearing black spectacles, he looked at me but didn’t lower the window glass. Moti barked which took him by surprise as he shivered from top to bottom while he was looking at me. That sudden amazement made him jump on his seat and his glasses fell down from his eyes. He picked them up again and accelerated the car in great agitation as his car roared and faded in the mist. After he was gone I recalled that moment and I understood what agitated him and why Moti barked. Mr. Mishra was a sweet and simple man with innocent behavior and polite enough to talk to me sometimes and in those talks I had noticed many times that the color of Mr. Mishra’s eyes was certainly not blue.
Bewildered at this realization, my heart raced out of its composition and with a stagnant impression I dialed Mr. Shukla’s number but no one picked it up. After that I called Mrs. D’Souza.