The Other Side of the World





I wake up to the honk of a noisy truck and the loud rumble of obsolete machinery. The sky has a single ash-grey thing for as long as I remember.

 

As I try to get up from my mattress which is a thin cloth we once wore to parties, my hand falls on a shard of glass which pierces through my dusty skin. I see blood ooze out. I am amazed to see how my blood, which was once shining-red has changed to dull-red. Maybe, it is due to the mingling of dust, or perhaps it is just a fragment of my imagination. I gain consciousness and realise that I shouldn’t be so calm, I should be running. Running towards that truck.

 

As I run, I curse myself for having slept, but some part of my mind argues that I needed a sleep after ten sleepless nights.

 

I reach the truck but it seems to be leaving. A few people are chasing it, even banging its sides, shouting and crying, “Stop! Stop! Please stop!” But the driver does not pay heed. He drives away, like every other morning. Few people cry at the corner, while others rejoice; some fight.

 

An old woman licks a paper that she got from the truck, after the little food wrapped in it, is finished. She licks the paper and her fingertips clean to ensure there is not a left anywhere.

 

A kid, the same age as mine, drops his food on the ground. A lot of people gather around it like honeybees on a flower.

 

Amidst this crowd I see Ms. Ellie. She used to be our neighbour when we had homes. She was influential, affluent and one classy woman. But now…well, we all are on the same page. We are nothing more than animals in a cage, with no class or dignity. Holding onto self-respect, here, is fatal.

 

When I return to my area, disappointed, I tear a stretch of my mattress and bandage my bleeding wound. We do have a place to live but we cannot call it ours.

 

Whom does this ground belong to? We do get food, but only on some days, if we are lucky and strong enough to outdo thousands of others and selfish enough to overlook those salivating lips and hungry eyes who curse you as they see you eat. We do get water, only if we walk miles to the single reserve, and if there is any water left in it at all.

 

Thousands of us, we suffer the same each day. And you might as well think that makes us friends, but no, we are just competitors, praying for the other one to die just to make our ends meet. We talk to each other, pity each other, but there will be no hands extended for help. After all, a vulnerable person can not be looked up to for help.

 




You might think I am a wise person to know these harsh realities.

 

Yes, I am wise, wise at fourteen. I have grown up early, like all other kids of Syria. I am an orphan and I had to be my everything after I saw every member of my family die in front me. Did I have any other choice other than growing up and taking care of myself?

 

Here, there are no families, no friends, no lovers. All that is here, is a residue of hate, hate that we never cultivated in our hearts, yet it continues to destroy us.

 

~ Ishita Pandey | Edited by Soumya Chakraborty

 


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