Year 2001

It was that time when I was living off my Bapa’s money, during my post-grad. I was already 21 and the ghosts of economic dependency had begun to haunt me. In a mile or so lived my extravagant teenage sister in her engineering undergrad campus. she was so prodigal a girl, once she spent a little more than her and mine monthly allowance together in just fifteen days before going home. Later when she graduated she asked, “remember that.., how did you manage”. I looked at her face affectionately trying to dissuade any guilt feeling if she had, which was just marked by curiosity only with wide eyes and a silly smile of a child, put up a matured face and said, ” I have my ways”, hastily adding “not that I did any wrong”.

My father had a unique way. He used to call rarely, and reaching him on telephone was next to impossibility, even though he was supposed to be available on all kind of electronic communication govt. could afford. He wrote really long leters and expected the same. And he sent money through personal courier, even though I had bank account. Once an armed police truck barged into university campus at midnight, stopped right in front of my hostel , several uniformed personnel searched the hostel for room # 44, just to deliver me our(mine and my sister’s) allowance. A panic set in, I was told later in the morning.

It was such a low life because of such less allowance and some unavoidable expenses that after 15th or 20th I would virtually start starving save for the seven rupeed hostel meals. Even-though the Gopal Sahu market provided the cheapest and probably the most unhealthy food, I could not afford that. Papers, magazines and books, I always managed somehow. I guess those who sell these kind of stuff are more sensitive to customers’ needs than general merchandise. So lately I had discovered a local and cheap brand of biscuit, which one can easily afford from the coins that gather uselessly on your self because of the rising inflation, once in a while if not everyday. It was so cheap that I had to hide it from my friends. So when hungry, I used to buy a pack, quickly throw the cheap cover and devour it. Sometimes in late night after wrecking your head for hours, you need these refreshments.

I was walking past the statue of a great Oriya into the desolate street of department buildings, chewing aways those life-saving cookies of mine. And a life taking rest under that statue followed me, breathing heavily, stopping each instance I turned to see it. A healthy dog, it was staring straight to my biscuits. By habit, I had already hidden them. I chose to ignore for a moment, cause I was not gonna give anything. Then in another turn, I tried to deciphier if the look was out of curiosity or of hunger. I threw few last pieces I had. It came running, sniffed each of them, looked at me again for a second wagging its tale and then turned back to go to sleep right where it came from.

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