"Some are born to sweet delight,
some are born to endless night."
The cold December air blew mercilessly that night. Suresh tried wrapping the blanket tighter over himself, only to realize that he was already as coiled up as his body would allow. There was a dull ache in his knees, from having run after a boy who took off with his money.
Suresh had spent the whole day near the traffic signal, walking down the road amidst the sounds of engines and horns, tapping on the windows of impatient cars, trying to sell balloons. Most people inside those cars would pretend not to have seen him, some would give him pitiful glances, while some gave him money without actually taking the balloons.
Five years ago, he had come to the city in search of a job. There was no other option, as there was no land in his village that he owned. When he first came to the city, he had worked as a laborer for a few months, but then he broke his arm and was forced to give up that work. That was when he started selling balloons near traffic signals. There were days when he perceived himself to be no more than a beggar. It was not the life he had sought for himself, but there was nowhere for him to go.
He had been sitting on the pavement, counting the money he had earned that day, when a child, not more than ten or twelve years old, snatched it from his hands and started to run away. Without wasting time, Suresh started to chase after him, all the while cursing himself for being so careless. In doing so, he had reached a narrow alley behind a restaurant, at which point he lost sight of the young thief. He had seen no point in trying to catch him in the labyrinth-like city, so he decided to give up. He had remained rooted to that spot for a few minutes, contemplating what had happened. He had lost a hundred and ten rupees, to someone who probably needed it as much as he did.
Nearby, street dogs were howling, roaming the city streets in search of food. A gust of wind hit his face, which made him shiver. He’d turned around, and walked back to the cold, hard, tobacco-stained pavement, ready to retire for the night.
Meanwhile, the young boy, who had been running away from the man, came to a halt at the door of a dilapidated building. The place reeked because of the open drains running on the opposite side of the road. The boy had barely escaped, crossing the narrow alleyway, and not daring to look back. He now went inside the building, careful not to make too much noise. There were a few other children who lived there, and all of them were scared of the man with the crooked nose. They were beaten up if they did not bring him money. The money he had stolen that night was not too much, but better than nothing. The young boy crept to a corner, and went to sleep, wrapping a thin blanket around himself, trying to keep out the cold.