Unforgettable Shadows - My Family Travels
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Delhi at Noon; peak of its traffic. The bourgeois, prosperous and poor all traveled on the streets, the lunch rush hour. Each breath taken was full of exhaust and the thickness of the air clogged throats at 115 degrees, typical day in Delhi. Being fortunate I could access all the luxuries of the city easily, but for others it is was not possible. Even our five star hotel was full of perks inconceivable. Our driver arrived 12:00 P.M. sharp, and the doorman opened the doors out of courtesy. We headed on the daily trip out for our tourist attractions. Even though it’s my native country, I felt like a stranger, as if I were entering a foreign institution. I just had to go with the flow.

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We proceeded down the litter filled streets, while approaching a stop light. The wait gave the impression of hours and then unexpectedly we heard the knocking and pounding on our car doors. The deteriorating bodies of the helpless stood with the little remaining stamina they had. Their dirty and ashy skin showed as they leaned their arms on the windows. Begging for rupees to get a day’s feed, they continued to storm all the visitors. The locals disregarded them effortlessly, as the unknown to this society gawked and panicked in the decision that would be made. The driver screeched not to offer anything, for they were all druggies and lethargic individuals.

Soon the vagabonds abandoned the streets, expecting the cars to rev and begin their path down the twisted roads. Then to my right appeared shadows. The shadows appeared gradually on my arm, legs, and then a black wave covered me—like clouds jacketing the moon on a pitch dark night, suffocating the light. Glassy eyes, almost porcelain, appeared a timid blue united with streaks of green flowing from both corners of his irises. They were none as I’d seen before. Just by glancing at his eyes he seemed to enclose purity—no greed. I then gazed at the beggar’s face: scarred with scratches, an overgrown beard, and wrinkles pulling away from the corners of his eyes and mouth. I continued my eyes down to his side to see a crutch. His frail arm straddled the handle with all capacity. Prolongingly, I glimpsed even lower, but I stopped when I noticed the beggar was missing something. He had only one leg.

The man let go of his crutch, stood on one foot and placed both hands together, “Aake rupee aape?” Give me just one rupee. I rummaged through my purse, hurrying to get the beggar money before the lights transitioned. Finding the 50 rupee bill I was searching for, I slipped it through the crack of the window, but then the light amended to green. The man scrambled to snatch the bill, but his cut filled hands just let it slither away. The beggar jumped to seize it from the gust of wind that surged from the cars passing him. I peeked out the back of the car window to see the man limping after the bill, and just before he got grasp, his one leg gave out and the beggar came down with a crash to the steaming tar road. By now my eyes had become like his: glassy with tears. Not reflecting innocence, but rather of remorse and guilt. 

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