There was a boy who lived in a small room he afforded in a big city. He lived on third floor in the farthest room of the aisle. Every night he came to his room thumping his steps on the stairs and with a low whistle while opening the lock of his room. He gave smiles to dull faces he met in his way. He always offered cuddles or some of his food to a stray dog that used to spend his night in front of his door. The dog always appeared just before his arrival and stared constantly towards the stairs across the hallway from where the boy always emerged out. He always left his room early in the morning and came late at night. He was always right there but nobody ever noticed his presence. He never opened his room when he was there and never let anyone enter in his room, though no one in fact tried to have a conversation with him as he never showed interest. No one literally ever heard his voice. No one ever heard ringtone of his mobile; nobody in fact saw him carrying a mobile phone. Some of them though were very happy at his involvement into their life as he never tried to interfere in their life as others used to do. Some kids used to peep in his room through the hinges of the window out of curiosity. They always watched him leaning towards a table with both hands on it and his back towards the kids. He was the night alarm of his floor, everyone would expect for him to come tapping his steps around and whistling calmly through his way. People could sleep calmly after this event as it was the mark of knowledge to them that everyone is home. For some people he was the mystery man or psycho. For some people he was too egoistic to talk but not rude. But he existed for everyone apparently. He was the magical string for the floor as sound of his door shutting in night was the last one could ever heard before going to sleep.
But the most awkward night for the five families of that floor was bound to take place. It was the first time in last one year that there were no familiar sound of thumping steps and magical whistle, there was no shutting down of the door that night. One man at his house was lying and staring at ceiling and kept his ears to listen whether the boy has come or not. The dog was mourning in breaks as he did not see the boy emerging out from the stairs. Uneasiness spread among the people of floor as they experienced this awkward silent for the first time. One man from a house steered himself out of his house and knocked on the door of his neighbor, the neighbor opened his door quickly as he was already waiting for someone to knock, and a conversation took place among those man about the boy. They suspiciously kept looking at the corner of the aisle towards the door of the boy. Absence of a single boy made the hallway creepily silent even though everyone was out of their house. One man dared to walk towards the room of the boy basically pushed by his wife to do so. It was the first time in one year that anyone was walking towards the boy’s door other than the boy. The daring man was shocked to see that there was no lock on the door. In the full implication that boy would be inside the door he knocked on the door hardly. Every man and women were constantly noting his action and were trying to predict what he is going to do next with concern. The door was light in weight and on account of blow applied by the fist of the man moved slowly and got opened almost half with a sound of click. The man peeped carefully through the door to see if everything is alright, he was shocked to see there was no one inside. He walked inside the room leaving trash of some old papers strewed on the floors behind. He saw sheet on the bed magnificently clean as it was never used. There was a table in the middle of the room on which different non living things were placed with so much etiquette. These things include a book, a key chain with two keys in it, a mug well cleaned, and bunch of papers in the middle with a pen resting over them.
The man came out of the room with some papers in hand and head down, he then looked at the dog and cuddled him with affection and stood up to read what was written on the paper.
“I came here in this town to earn some money so that I can afford some bucks to take admission in next class, I have just passed 10th standard and I could not get a good division as I barely managed time to open my books. I was always busy in doing job at small shops and serving people at small restaurants. When I first shifted to this building I was very curious to welcome and embrace every person of this floor. But some incidents took place that forced me to shorten my premises. Once I saw a small boy playing with a remote car in front of my door, I was delighted to see his happiness every time he struck his toy to the wall. Unfortunately he forgot his toy to the same place before leaving to his house. After four or five days when nobody came to pick that car, I took that toy and presented it to my little sister at my village. Same expression of happiness I could see on the face of my little sister. But I was still not sure why nobody even bothered to pick that toy from the front of my door. For me cost of that toy was too much both in terms of money and the happiness that appeared on the face of my sister. Most of the times I had to face situations when kids of people leave their belongings at the restaurants and I had to choose what to do with them. Most of those things were pencils, pins, toys, or a piece of cloth. I used to keep those things with me for a while and waited for those people to come back for their belongings. But they too never came back for their things. Or when I found those people by chance and presented them their own things they refused to take or even they didn’t even recognized them. For me it was a bit disturbing as everything cost some money to buy. For me nothing is worse than wasting their own assets. I realized that people of cities either forget about their own lovable things or replace them with new things, same they do with humans.
Well on the other hand when I shifted to this building nobody cared to interact with their new floor mate, nobody even bothered to ask my name. well I didn’t really care about that but the incident that melted my heart was when I returned from my village after two days, the dog was still waiting for me rolled tiredly on the floor in front of my door, I sensed his hunger from his gruesome and dull response and immediately fed him with the rotis I brought from my home. Nobody even cared to look out for the dog that has been sheltering on our floor from past one year. I realized that time only it is not the fault of people of my building to forget about the dog, but their busy and fast life to earn more and fed their never lasting hunger has made them in such a way that they don’t care about these things which are more and closely related to practical aspect of life and being human. I was sad on the toy incident because I know how relentlessly once I cried to my father to own such toy in my childhood, and remained heartbroken for many days for not getting one. I know how my parents felt for not being able to cover my desire as they were hardly able to manage money for food.
For your information I never locked my room when I left this building in the morning and nobody even noticed that. It was me who painted the block of stairs last diwali, everyone loved the paint but nobody bothered to utter a word in its appreciation or even tried to know who has painted these stairs walls. It was me who stayed awake whole night long once when some thieves were trying to break in. and they eventually ran off the building knowing someone is still awake. It was me who fed the homeless dog who also served every day in security of this building. Someone in the restaurant told me “it is a city; nobody will notice you until you are a tool of earning money for them, nobody will care for you until you have as much money as they have.” I passed his sentences in air when I first listened to him but I eventually started to believe in him when I see it happening all around even in my building. I came to this city to arrange some money, but I don’t think this place can provide me such. I have decided to go to my village where I see people rich by their heart. They will offer half of their food to the unknown needy even if they themselves are dying of hunger. But here in this city even in my building people barely talk to each other. In my building I saw how every young married couple avoids their parents to visit them. No signs of elders or their parents in their house, in fact I have also seen their relaxed face when they see off their parents who barely come to meet them. Do they really hate their parents or they just don’t want to bear load of their own creators, is everything all about budget and money for them? I think I have understood what is more important for my life, to be with my family who has brought me up against all odds like every parent do. I think the dog will find a new place to live on the mercy of people where he can find a piece of bread to eat. It was a pleasure and life changing event to live in the city.”
No one was able to match their eyes with any person standing in the hall way. They slipped slowly to their doors to avoid awkwardness without uttering a single word. All were asking everyone the same question putting pressure on their memories “what was his name?” The dog was the happiest one as there were a lot of pieces of bread strewed besides him that night as a reflection of little self respect that was still alive into the hearts of people.