The Breeze, The City & A Death – A2Z – Fiction

The breeze was blowing from the river to the town. Across it was a village, like so many all around. All others’ places, all alien.

How much was what could be called ‘one’s own’? Your personal belongings, your family, maybe your street, your language. Your state, maybe? Surely going beyond was waddling into the hypothetical and the romantic. So small, then, this whole catalogue of what truly belonged to one, or the other way round.

The town had caught the industrial bug in the early aughts. The city, ever alert of chances, had been quick to pounce. It’d extended its claws and decided to swallow the town whole. For the ones who came afterwards, like flies to sweets, this was the history. The village was always the town, and vice-versa, they presumed, when, in fact, history never was that simple.

‘Societies’ and ‘residencies’ had sprung up everywhere in quick time, predators following the flies. It was fashionable to call an apartment complex a society, as if merely by demarcating territory and populating themselves with human beings, buildings became identities unto themselves. Worse still, as if people living elsewhere were part of some uncivilized, unsocial wards, not ‘residents’ like the genteel folks who called these giant anthills their abode.

The soil of the region was loamy. Loamy soil is said to be a mix of sand, silt and clay, geographically-speaking. But also, it is a mix of the desert’s unquenchable thirst and the city’s humus-like top layer of order, which tried to disguise its apathy & guzzling capacity stored within.

Of course death follows predators. There was death. A man was found lying facedown on the ground besides a high-rise. The clean top and silver sides of his head gave away his age as somewhere beyond 60.

The police arrived in due course. It promptly saw what the township folks couldn’t see – the person was dead from the impact of the fall he’d had. The reason he didn’t bleed? The loamy soil. That and the phone and power lines. The cables broke his momentum, although not enough for him to survive.

As empires expanded, they brought slaves in order to do their work. These slaves kept the empires running, and yet, always stayed invisible. Modern-day empires – the choking, bustling cities – need those too. Today’s slaves are also invisible. That is unless you don’t miss the large slums hugging every city like goitre to the throat. The problem seems to be the uncontrolled growth of meat outside the traditional bounds of the body, when in fact, there are issues within the bodypolitic only.

Two days hence, armed with the postmortem report, and nary anything from the CCTV cameras, the police arrested a migrant worker in connection with the case.

As the ever-present summer temporarily gave way to monsoon, the police were still without probable cause. But unlike the rain which had started turning the screws, the police were still fiddling with the case, unsure whether to stick or twist it.

The sub-inspector investigating the case believed that the man committed suicide. However, declaring that would’ve somehow meant soiling his stellar reputation as a man of the masses, or so he was told. So he did the next best thing. He “explored” the possibility of murder.

Now, what’d be the best way to ‘create’ a killer without ruffling feathers? Oh well, those slaves. Blame any one of the migrant labourers. They are an unruly lot. Their culture is different, their faces are alien. They live like ants piled on top of each other, encroaching on the city and it’s innate, individual identity. Catch one of them. Would the charge stick? That’s a question for a posterity that needn’t ever glance into the eventual here-and-now.

Dates and charges, remands, cases, local courts – the whole eleven yards. The breeze will keep blowing from the river to the city, passing over and through the slums, an others’ place, an alien.

The End.

This post is my second entry for the #BlogchatterA2Z running all through the month of April.

Liked the story? How about telling me about it in the comments section? 🙂

Featured image courtesy this wonderful post on Dharavi.

Thanks for reading.

16 Comments

  1. This is a lovely story. You have created a poignant picture of the state of our migrant poor people and an image of how our police works that leaves one shocked.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Businesses might grow and cities might prosper. But the gap between the have and have-nots will never be bridged. They say religion (and later laws) was created to ensure that the powerful did not run wild at the expense of the meek and weak, but money still rules till date.

    This was so beautifully narrated.

    Liked by 1 person

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