Paper Marshallogue [EXPERIMENT] – Day 15

And so, for the first time in India, I felt unsafe.

It wasn’t because the darkness would somehow possess the Indians around me to rob me. It wasn’t because I thought they could overtake me even if they wanted to. Even in my sandals, I could run faster than these crippled, old crags. Even without dinner, I’d eaten more than they had that day.

No, it was because for the first time in India, I got hit by the reality of how many of the hawkers and peddlers and beggars and even those who just sit, will just sleep on the streets at night.

It’s not like they’re actually on the streets. I mean that just figuratively. They sleep on the sidewalk, under makeshift tents, on cardboard boxes, next to their sisters, on the tops of the tables they used during the day. As horns continue to sound mere meters from their ears, they sleep.

It’s not like they didn’t know this was coming tonight. It’s not like they didn’t prepare for this as best as they could, as they do every night.

As I turned out onto the main street from the place where I slept, all comfy in my budget-by-American-standards bed, I spotted a woman sleeping on a simple cloth, her face turned to the wall, her back exposed to those, like me, who passed by. I wanted to take a photo to remember that moment, but I trudged on instead, promising I’d get her on the way back if she was still there.

And so, for the first time in India, I felt unsafe. Because when I returned to that street, after seeing all the bodies polluting the rest of the streets where I walked, that first woman who had been sleeping on that simple cloth was gone. I guess she didn’t want me to take her photo.

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