I am employed and have all the ego associated with it. I have an ID card that hangs on my neck that flaunts my status in life. I have to push through the crowd and get on a bus and then fight for a hold on the bar to hang on to . The conductor would shout at me for not having change and I would very stubbornly hold on to my IT ego and tell something tit-for-tat. The music in the form of endless honking from vehicles from the four sides of the bus continued till I got down the bus. I actually do not get down. I am pushed down by people who are eager to get out, and pushed up by those who hastily climb on board without any consideration for others. In these tug I may or may not get out depending on my stars. Finally, when I get out, I am welcomed my dust of the recently dug road. Some pipe has been laid down and the covering of the road would happen in near future. I cover my face with towel that I keep handy and try to cross the road. This is because I do not want to climb some 50 steps of the foot-over path and another 50 down to the footpath across the street. I would do it in a pragmatic way. The signal would bring up all the vehicles to halt at red. This was the chance to cross the median. One jump up and one down, 5 strides across and I am at the entrance of my office building. Very recently I started noticing an an old man at the footpath that led to my office.
An old man of his age needs care and food if nothing else. The man was draped in rags. It was torn to the last thread in many places. The number of holes and tear on the bed sheet made it a joke to use it. The man had no option other than this. This was his life. The life on the footpath, sleep by the dark-fall, by the seats on the bus waiting shed. He is used to this life. The life of rags. There was no job that one would trust this man with. He was tired, disoriented and aimless. How could any job possibly come to his hands.
One day he lay at the footpath were the dogs used to be. It was a point of contention between the dogs of the street and himself. The prime spot on the footpath was always fought for. The one who occupies this first wins. There is no physical fight. May be slight pushing and tugging. The marks of such small fights were visible on the rags that the poor man owned. This was his property, this was his life, no dog can take it from him.
Once I had a happenstance to accidentally kick him. He was lying on the footpath and I had not noticed this unusual creature there. A fully grown human being with fragile limbs, white beard and hair. He was not at all shivering, while the cold wind sweeping over the streets chilled my teeth and froze my bones. I could not notice him due to this terrible weather. I said sorry, the moment I realised this. The man did not even budge. A black and white street dog came near the man about this time. I wondered if it was his pet. I could test if the man was alive or dead. I could see through the holes in the torn sheet that he held on tightly and wrapped himself perfectly. There was no point in holding on to such a sheet. Even the dogs would not find another place on it to bite and tear. This was the condition. The dog nudged at the old man. The man moved slightly and pushed the dog cursing and swearing at it. He clasped one end of the blanket on his fist and held it so that he can stand up. I had so much to do, I have to punch in at right time in office and then have breakfast and discuss on project proposal and then send mails and then manage the project and then code and what not! But I was watching the man’s movement rooted on the footpath at a distance from him. I could not understand why I stood there, I also could not reckon the time passed, I could not remember the bearings to office. It was as if the time has stood still. I tried to bring myself back. I was supposed to head to my office in the TIDEL Park. I am an Engineer. I am this and that and why ?
The man got up and searched his pocket for something. Then he called the dog which was irritating him and he gave a piece of biscuit from his pocket to it.
(Image borrowed from Indian Pariah Dog Blog http://indianpariahdog.blogspot.in/2011/04/black-dog-squad-indogs-of-west-bengal.html)