Running along the crooked lanes of the backwater, she crushed the dry leaves beneath her foot which bore the lines of her destiny. A life which even the dying wont live and a destiny which even the blind wont accept. Bearing an endless spiral of lines on her forehead and needle thin lips, with her blinkers on she kept sprinting towards the dilapidated hut she called home.
The bare hut bore no signs of any festivity round the corner. The sun struck every corner of the hut through the perforated roof of the hut denying the need of artificial light. The tattered charpai was kept at one corner of Mariam’s house which harbored her fragile mother.
Life had been like the life line of a person in coma, straight, without any changes or interruptions, losing hope but trying nevertheless. The same old routine and the same old unfilled needs of life. A normal life was beyond the little girl’s imagination who did not even enjoy the opulence of two square meals which could stop her stomach from grumbling at night.
A tear rolled down her eyes as she narrated what happened to her in school that day. The destitute mother heard her daughter pour out her heart the umpteenth number of time. It is that time of the year when everything is wonderful for almost everyone we know except for those who are sitting inside a hut to retell a miffed heart’s story.
Packing lunch for school was never an option for Mariam’s mother. She never had food or money to give to her daughter. Eating dinner was a rule of the house and they both accepted it silently. It was a feast for little Mariam when other kids of her school brought stuffed tiffin boxes to gorge on and shared with her those little crumbs of leftovers.
Christmas meant better food in those tiffin boxes and the heart’s desire to eat a little bit more. Mariam longed for her own dinky tiffin box which she could finish all by herself. As the christmas days came nearer, the feast went from good to better during the lunch hour of her school. Of course getting a share was wholly dependent on her friends, but she always kept her hopes up.
That afternoon, Mariam was starving since her mother failed to feed her at night. She was sickly and yesterday was a tough day for her. Hungry out of her mind, Mariam kept waiting for her fist of rice from her friend’s tiffin box. The school bells clanged and she turned around with greedy eyes towards her friend who was taking the last bite out of her lunch with some of her other friends. They ate everything during the class and laughed at Mariam for being a clingy only for food.
Tears rolling down her face, she pushed open the school gate and ran out of the compound. The tree laden roads masked the scorching run rays from Mariam’s face. The old postman with his rusty old cycle rode towards her and passed a greeting. Mariam looked up and ducked behind a dingy lane to avoid confrontation.
She passed those typical humungous houses all decked up for christmas which aggrieved her even more. The mortar road radiated unbearable heat which pounded against the teared up and worn out soles of her shoes. A rock finally stopped her as she stumbled up against it and fell flat on the muddy grounds of the church. Blood leaking down her knees, she climbed the stairs of the church and sat down on the cool floor panting for breath.
In the microscopic years that she had spent in this world, her mother sent her daily to the morning masses. She taught her everything about the values of life and the importance of being a good human being. She did it all.
Today however was different, she questioned God. Her mind was full of questions as she saw the well dressed children of her age getting out of swanky cars to the cool shade of the trees to come and pray. Were they better than her?
Why was God so biased? Why could she not even fill her stomach with food while they got to have everything that she could not even imagine? She sobbed and sobbed, peeling each layer in her mind which doubted the existence of God and the unfair ways in which everything was happening around her. Why the disparity?
The little mind was interrupted by the Father of the church who sat beside her with some cotton, bandages and antiseptic. His smile calmed her down. She looked down at his hands and smiled. The pain in her heart had overridden the physical pain in her life at the moment, it seemed that God had in fact decided to interfere.
“Why the tears my child?”, asked the Father.
“Why is God so partial? Why can’t I have food to eat and a place to sleep which does not drop water all over me when it rains? Why can’t my mother be not sick? Why can’t I have shoes that don’t bite me?”, Mariam enquired with eyes so sad, it made the Father cringe.
“Everybody is different my child. I know some who don’t even have their mother or a roof above their head”, said the Father and looked at the kids who entered the church with their parents. He pointed out to them and said, “ You ask me why you are not as fortunate as them? what do you know about their life? maybe they have bigger problems to face in life! God is looking over us and he sees everything you are doing. No, you don’t have what you should have, but there is something really worthwhile waiting for you at the other end of this struggle”, the Father explained and smiled down at the little face which looked back at him with an intrigued look.
He bent down to clean her wound and took her hand to walk down the church aisle to the mess. He fed her but could not pacify her anger. She was disturbed and her condition was worsened by her wound. A little child, what else did life want from her.
Leaving behind a confused father, she ran towards her house, towards her mother, who no matter what, cared for her and fed her more than what even she ate herself. The father’s words rang in her head but the mind did not understand the reason that the stomach did not know. Her life had always been a chain of these incidents and she had no hope for a better tomorrow which killed the spirit of Christmas and everything associated with it.
Inside that little girl was a desire, a desire so small that killed the possibility of any dreams. A desire to eat, a desire to sleep and a desire to live without the pebbles on the street hurting her tender feet against those endless lines of pointless destiny.