I thought it was dawn. The sun looked like a vague golden ball hanging in a light blue coloured sea which was defying the gravitation laws hanging upside down. It was mud and water all around and very little traces of concrete road to be seen beneath it. It must have rained heavily the previous night. But how could I have known. I am a deep sleeper and my dreams are as real as dreams can be.
It was early yet I could see some figures on the pavement. As I approached I saw some men chatting at the side of the road. They had covered themselves with worn out blankets and a burning fire near them. I assumed they were homeless poor beggars. People with filled belly the previous night do not usually wake up at such a time and such cold.
I went to sneak in. There were five of them. Their faces were pale and hands weak. They had black cups near them with upper part twice as broad as the base. As I closed in I saw some round shaped metal coins in it. The light was still too dim to count how much was in there. I sat near the fire for sometime. One of them gave me a disgusted look, the other four took no notice of me as if I was not there. They did not ask even for money or food from me. That made me curious. After 5-10 minutes I went down the side alley.
There were more beggars on the other side. Walking down the other side of the road I felt a slight pain in my front leg. May be I was too perplexed that it did not incur to me before. I was sure it was completely a new place to me. As I moved I saw more burning wood and people shivering but I was not feeling the same cold. As I looked up in the sky, it was a beautiful sight and it had covered most part of the northern sky. It was as if a very big multicoloured star had moved from its place in the sky and left its coloured trajectory behind it.
As I moved on I saw more people here and there, old, young, weak, kids and other. Some were talking about the cold, some about rain last night, some about something other. I could hear them all, even the distant ones, I could even hear them breathe the cold chilly air as it went inside their lungs and came out as white as snow. Was I high on weed I could not tell. I should not be hearing all that stuff. The blood was racing up my brain to lubricate it but it was not working normal. I was in a dilemma. I could not say where I was. I could not recall how I arrived in that area. I tried hard but it was not coming to me.
Then in a sudden instant it came, the cold scent, the frail sobbing voice, but no one around seemed distracted. Maybe they had not heard it. The smell intrigued as well as frightened me. The hairs on my neck stood straight up. The scent and voice were vague but call it instinct or whatever I knew what it was. It was the scent of death.
I sniffed my way towards the scent and ran. I ran fast, faster, the fastest I have ever known I was capable of. When did I learn to run so fast I could not remember.
It took around a minute before I reached the source. I saw figures on the footpath. As I closed in, a man was lying on the ground and people were sitting and standing around him. A women in mid 20’s was sitting near the upper part of the lying man, sobbing and cursing. I could easily hear her. She was cursing her gods that they did not save her husband from the white witch. She was telling other people that the white witch killed her husband.
She told them that the white witch was after her husband for many days. Her husband has seen her often in the area. The dead body of her husband was pale and white as ice, the lips turned a little blue, cheeks shrank and wrinkles could be seen in infinity in the pale skin. The area around the eyes had turned dark and little and the eyes looked as they have bulged out from their sockets. It was a grievous death I concluded. Could it be the work of a witch I wondered but whatever she was, she was cold.
Now more men came in and women started to cry and support the dead man’s wife. The wife told them that the witch was still there somewhere, smiling and content with her prey for now but she will not stop and more will be dead soon. The husband and herself were successful in evading her for many nights but last night her husband yielded to the white witch. She told that the witch never left them. She was all around and her power increases at night as the dark spreads. Her husband had seen her smiling with a crooked teeth many times, going near him, around him and through him. She would give him shivers. Her husband often told her that the dark was a companion of the witch and they should be watchful at night. Could her story be true. Could such a terrible force exist I thought, but whatever she was, she was cruel.
The wife started cursing the gods even more and now she had started cursing other people that no one came to help them. What homeless people would have done against such a mighty force I could not understand. She was crying and speaking at the same time. It was not clear but still I was able to understand some part of it. Her husband and she had evaded the white witch using fire. The witch was afraid of fire her husband had said. The witch had many weapons and many companions and the only armour the deceased had was a worn out blanket and only weapon was the burning wood but still they fought against such a dreadful power until last night when it rained. The white witch called her companion. It rained heavily and it increased her power. The rain took their weapon, the burning fire, from them and then took her husband’s life. I thought rain was considered as a god. Why would it help a merciless witch? The wife was crying that she will kill her too and many more till she sleeps. Then at last it came to me what she was. She was cold, she was winter.
The wife’s face was pale and tears had now dried leaving dark traces on her pale face. I do not know why but I felt a guilt about her dead husband. Her cries now were unbearable but still I could not move and then I heard a weak sound slowly becoming strong and moving close. The sound made my mind cloudy and then I woke up.
Now to see the situation rationally, many homeless people die due to cold in north India. Around 78 million homeless people are ill equipped to face the cold weather conditions. The death toll last year was 140 and we boast India is growing and call ourselves a developing nation. These deaths can be prevented therefore stop fucking your money on Salman Khan movies and distribute some blankets to the homeless on your birthdays and don’t wait for the Indian government. Their blankets will take many years to reach to the needful ones.