He paced restlessly outside his home, which was nothing but just one room, waiting impatiently for the news of the arrival of his first child. The streets were deserted at this hour of the night and the only occasional sounds were the distant horns of the freight trucks on the nearby Delhi- Agra highway. People surrounded him and did what they did best in times like this, smoke; still, he felt oddly reassured by their presence. He had no family, only people. His people.
He didn’t know his birthdate as he was found in the municipal dustbin or so the people said.
They had named him ‘Neel’- Hindi word for the color blue, after the blue blanket in which he was found wrapped. That blanket was the only connection which he had of his roots which in reality were neither strong nor warm, much like the old tattered blanket itself, and yet, that blanket was his only heirloom.
Living on the street hadn’t given him much but it sure had taught him the most important lesson that life is brutal and to survive one has to make hard choices. He had made them all his life and survived. So, he never could resent his mother for leaving him in that dustbin; she must truly have had no other choice.
Tonight was not the first night when he had thought of his mother; often in the darkness of the night, he had tried to picture her, searching her in the contours of his own face, wondering about the color of her eyes and the shape of her face. He had always kept her in his prayers and hoped for her well-being, not out of love or longing, but because he was her flesh and blood.
He knew enough, by now, about the workings of the world, in which he lived, to know that children like him don’t have fathers but everyone has a mother. And therefore, he was thankful for the oddly shaped birthmark on his left shoulder as it always reminded him that he belonged to someone in a way in which only a child could belong to his mother; just like his child will belong to Zoya, his wife. But unlike him, his child will have a father.
The cries of his wife had almost drowned by now which meant that his wait was nearing its inevitable end. He could see the faint light of the early summer sun on the eastern sky, announcing the breaking of dawn and for the first time in his life, he was hopeful for the future.
The peaceful veil was disturbed by the piercing cries of his child and soon he held his daughter in his arms. As the first rays of the morning sun touched her face, she opened her eyes and looked at him, and at that moment, he realized that he had a family.
He wrapped his little bundle in the old faded blue blanket, his family heirloom, knowing that it will keep her safe.