Winter Morning: A Story by Aaradhana Agarwal

In January, Delhi’s temperature falls to around 1.4 – degree Celsius. A severe cold wave and dense fog make it hard for living beings to survive. The deserted roads confirm that Delhiites are not in the mood to leave their warm quilts and blankets. Winter chills discourage people from stepping outside their cozy homes. The same is not his reality. Lying on a cold footpath with his parents and four siblings in tattered woolen clothes, he curses the Winter for it is hard to endure pricking cold winds. Since birth, he has been staying under the sky without any shelter. His family lives on a footpath of one of the city’s busiest junctions. His parents and siblings sometimes beg and sometimes sell products at that junction. When there is traffic, they all rush to the commuters and earn money. Fortunately, they live where the rich distribute clothes and food occasionally. In that area, there is a Use &Pay public toilet facility. So they don’t move to any other place for fear of losing the space they have encroached on.

He is just twelve but well aware of the differences between the haves and the haves not. He knows that winter is one of the favorite seasons for the rich because they go to mountainous places in Summer. They are covered with warm clothes from head to toe, so enjoy the season. He doesn’t have such luxury, but he manages his life in extreme poverty. He has learned to endure the harshness of Nature bravely in tattered clothes. However, he hates Winter because he can protect himself from heat and rain by moving to the subway during Summer and Monsoon, but surviving during Winter is a real challenge. His life seems to be a curse. He shivers throughout the night as he has insufficient warm clothes and blankets. His undernourished body doesn’t produce required heat to battle the cold waves. He thinks of warm sunny days and abundant food, and comforts to pass these difficult hours.

On his birthday, at midnight, he wishes for a trouble-free life and a steel body so he won’t suffer Nature’s torture. He asks his mother about his birthday present. She kisses his forehead, blesses him, and utters, “In the morning you’ll definitely receive a surprise gift from God.” He then tries to sleep, but the North wind numbs his senses. That night is extremely chilly. Clattering of his teeth and quivering of his body make the night horrible. His entire body gets stiff because the torn blanket cannot stop the cold waves from entering his body. He holds his mother tightly to get her body’s warmth. After being wrapped in her thin saree, he closes his eyes. When he wakes up, he doesn’t feel cold though the people are lying on the floor in a crunched way to adjust their bodies to the biting cold winds. There is a divine light that gives him warmth. He follows the light leaving behind his dead body.