Hunger

The city is a young boy standing in the middle of a road stretching far and wide joining the flyovers, highways and gardens to the prairies, mountains, oceans and reaching beyond. A station lies eastward at a distance, the lines passing from behind. Every hour or so, a goods train mostly bearing wood for the paper and coal for the fire from the nearby villages and towns passes by; the engine hissing, slowed down to let a metallic screech pierce the evening air, muffled by the regressive rumble of the wheels, headed toward a harbour parallel to the station. From the street one could hear the trucks start once loaded with the heavy logs and innumerable sacks of coal and cement and all that the train brings from the other world. The labourers squatting by the crossing, smoking hand-rolled tobacco or playing cards, jump up at the first whistle of the train and tying up their turbans, rush to the station.

 

Along South, on both sides of the street loom weak and discoloured old buildings, sighing out their nostalgia from a coarse surface. An old businessman, forty to fifty of age, returning home from office- the formal shirt still tucked in, the shoes not having lost all its shine from the morning – remarks the cab driver of it being one of the first establishments of the city. Kids pass the cab on their way out from the buildings, guffawing aloud, hysterically and complacently with a chewing gum between their teeth. Men in groups of four to five stand at the bus-stop smoking cigarettes or eating from the stalls. The ones behind them sweat profusely in undershirts from the heat of their stoves. The automobiles rush about; their headlights flashing hitherto, horns sounding like trumpets blowing in a local wedding. Like the one taking place a few miles ahead on the very road. Trumpets, like the ones blown at the procession, a few miles ahead on the very road.

 

Meanwhile, the widow on the fifth floor of the first block to the boy’s left props a chair into the balcony and sits down to pick at and squash lice from her neighbour’s daughter’s head. On the ground floor in a narrow lane passing by, the barber brushes an old razor against the leather belt hung on a nail driven in a wall of his ghetto 13 years ago; in the same manner he has been doing it for as many or even more years. Westward from where the boy stands, at a great distance, bright garlands of colourful bulbs can be seen hanging low creating an almost clamour of lights. Young men with heads raised high plead and beg with the whores for a bargain; another day spent, another night awaited. Junkies flit about in their dirty, grim jackets with different shoes on each feet – one’s brothers and sisters and lovers from their salad days, neither recognize. Beggars lie slumped in corners, making clamour-some noises with a plate and a bowl, once in a while, even in their sleep. Drunkards curse and act drunk and sleep and be loud and wail and moan on the streets.

 

No one hears the boy sing anymore. No one cares enough. The boy, in the same voice, has been singing for how many years now no one knows for no one is old enough. No one remembers their ancestors’ talk about the boy for nobody believes enough. No one knows where he came from. No one cares when he doesn’t go, eat or sleep. They pass by him, alone, in a group, with a mob, in their vehicles, in the trucks, in the trains. They pass by, they pass through. No one even sees him except for a drunkard on a late night afraid of stones being peddled at for waking the world to this marvel. No one sees him. No one hears him. But the boy still sings. Not excusing a single quiver or change in the tone or the pitch he sings continuously, all days and nights. The song never repeats, never ends. It progresses slowly and slowly and it has been happening for so long now that it must have become the song of the whole universe, which the world doesn’t hear only because it is totally consumed by it, living it and swaying to its every single note and rhythm without knowing it. He sings the song, the liveliest and otherwise indefinable of all, that no one hears.

 

The city is a young boy standing in the middle of the road, singing, without restraint, without a care of its own.

 

The world, now an old man immersed in absolute darkness of the nights belonging to the universe, his song broken down to silent whispers and cackles and screams, everyone hears in their dreams not one understands, like ever before, and the deepest and the loudest and the saddest of his wails and howls ricochet and die down inside, within the emptiness of his own flesh, unheard, unfreed.

 

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