The cold and dark no longer scare me. Here, on the empty, cobbled pavement facing the garbage processing center, I make my fire. It burns warm and orange-gold.

All my gold I gave. Now the cars and bikes and buses whizzing past witness the last spark of my life. Into the blaze I put the wood I collected from the trees lining the street, the paper that blew straight to me, and other odds and ends that nobody wanted, like nobody wanted me.

My life I gave, to family – parents, alcoholic husband, four children – to the hard manual labor that earned the daily rice and dal. They took it all. And one day, when it was their turn to give, to me; they gave me to the streets, to sanyas! Not very gently, oh no. My hair didn’t turn all white, overnight, just like that.

From here, I cannot even find my way back…

It’s early evening, in early winter and the flames will dance merrily for as long as I can feed them. And the little packet of puffed rice and onions I begged off a pedlar will feed me a little. These old innards have shrunk so, not much food can get in.

Would it have cost so very much, to have provided a little space; two saris a year, and as much food as a child would eat?

The fire burns lower and the cold bites more and more. The pavement seems to harden all around me. I wrap my sari around more securely; get the matted, tattered blanket out of my bundle, pull that around. Try and pretend it’s warmer, that there are walls here to protect me.

Sometimes, if you relax into the cold, it doesn’t hurt as much. The whole winter’s left to practice this new skill. I’m tough see? I’ll get the hang of it. I’ve survived my whole life; I’ll survive some more of it.

Now that I am so free—


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8 thoughts on “Cold

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