"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




They say the Big Bang started the entire universe and put all things on course. Or was it off-course?


Bang!

His life started with a Bang too. No! not the bang of pomp and celebration, but the Bang of a fall. A fall that had left his pregnant mother bleeding, and made him open his eyes in the emergency room instead of a maternity ward. He never saw his mother alive. They say, she was a domestic help and she slipped while mopping the stairs. Her bulging stomach might have forced her, he figured, to bend in an awkward way. Why was the lady working even during her pregnancy? Answer: ask the drunk husband. Anyway, his 'so-called' father never came to claim him, and the hospital shifted him to an orphanage.

The orphanage gave him food, and made him work for it. They didn't provide education, but anyway he learnt his skills on the job. Who needs education, when you already figured out how to live? By teenage, he was shifted to the kitchen. Cooking and delivering meals to officials at the tax office. One afternoon, when he was out for delivery...

Bang!

The 80 year old orphanage had collapsed, consuming all his friends with it. When they announced the casualty list, his name was there. He figured he was on his own now. He went to the temple, where they say his mother often visited. The priest, who apparently knew his mother a bit too well, took him in. He worked in the temple kitchen, cooking for the devotees. Like the other kids, he would sell the leftovers to the beggars and earn a little money. He heard from the other kids, that life was much better down south. South was where the fast life was - metros, multiplexes and the big money. One day, as he was busy cooking...

Bang!

A bridge collapsed; confusion and stampede. Scores die, and the temple is locked down by the police. Locked out of his livelihood, he pulls out his savings and takes the first train going south, ironically to Bang-alore. Watching the cities pass by, he dreams of a fast life, full of thrill and fun. Two days of train journey and then one morning...

Bang!

Train derailed, on the edge of a bigger city. He is unhurt, and after a brief check-up at a local hospital, they discharge him. He has no idea which town he is in, but seeing the fast life gladdens him.

And like it does to all gullible immigrants, Mumbai sucks him in.

He roams a few blocks and the city is quick to notice his naivety. Some pandus get hold of him and take him to a Seth, who flares his nostrils and, with a breath reeking of paan, promises him the good life. He gets started at the sweatshop. Days filled with backbreaking labour fail to daunt him initially, but with time he begins to sense a disgust in his gut. One night, after being molested and forced by a pandu, he decides it's time to flee. The next day he speaks with the other boys, and they dissuade him from trying to escape. 'The pandus are everywhere. They will catch you and bring you back. The punishments are severe. Didn't you know why Mukesh walks with a limp?' That night he dreams of his mother, of playing hide-n-seek with her and just when she is about to hug him, a loud siren wakes him up. The police raid the Seth's office. Seth and the boys are taken to the station. The Seth is let go after a 'chat with the Sahib in the room'. Sahib comes out and orders all the boys be locked up. The constable is ushering them into the jail when...

Bang!
 
A bomb blast in the city. Sahib gets a call to rush to the spot. The constable is ordered to let the boys go and get into the jeep. He grabs the constable's hand, "Don't leave me out sir. Please lock me up. I don't want to go out." The constable giggles, "You are lucky my son. The blast saved your life, else you would be rotting in jail for a few months. Go now!" He, along with the other boys, are shoved out on to the streets, where the pandus are eagerly waiting for them...

n.b.: Pandu - a pimp; paan -  chewing tobacco; Seth - a businessman or trader; Sahib - a police officer.
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