Black – The Color of Night [SHORT STORY]

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Written by Arunima

Black, the color of dark; darkness, a heralding of the unknown. As the dusk fades into darkness, the world is slowly enveloped by night. An eagle flies across the setting sun.A single bat flits off into the horizon; a few crows still cawing away in the distance; the last of the sparrows flying off to their abodes in ones and twos; the sounds reduces to a steady hum. All sounds fade away into the gloomy silence, all colors replaced by a never-ending black.

An old man threads his way slowly through the foggy, dimly lit streets of the city. White haired, stooping under the weight of his own body, he walks lost in his own thoughts, unaware of all that is happening around him. The stick in his hand and the whistle at his breast is the only indication that he is a chowkidar.
People looking at him wonder why someone as ancient as him is given this task. But this thought does not worry him. He knows there is no threat to him or anybody else for that matter. He knows he does not have to worry about thieves or prowlers. No, all those are no longer his jobs, as they were at one time…

Those were good, old times, when he could demand an extra something from the residents for having caught a dangerous robber and then boast about it over a drink in the local dhaba; when he valued and took pride in his responsibility of looking after the village.

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He would sit in the center with a complementary cup of the best tea that the dhaba owner’s wife could stir up and a crowd of people around him, waiting for him to pour forth his tales of bravery. Mere eighteen years old, he was already the favorite of every idler, the center of attraction at every late noon gathering under the village peepul tree and the idol of every boy in the village, who wanted to grow up as strong and fearless as him.

But times had changed now. The small village had slowly grown into a town, the town into a booming suburb. The crowds had grown in numbers; people had flocked to this new “township” from all parts of the country. The village had given way to high-rises and most villagers had trickled away to settle elsewhere. A few had stayed on, picking up odd jobs. He had been lucky. His tales of bravery and his enthusiasm earned him a job as a guard at one of the new societies. He had clung on to the job for three decades.

Three decades of changes, where he saw the city grow, where he saw attitudes change, saw people change, saw technology push humans to the background. The bizarre contraptions, so tiny that you could never find them, but which somehow saw everything going on and miraculously allowed people sitting in a far away corner to watch it too; the strange devices that beeped whenever someone unknown walked past it. The job he so took pride in, was no longer his. No longer was he required to safeguard the lives of people. He knew he was nothing compared to these apparitions. They were far more efficient than him in all respects.

He merely existed now, as he had done for the past decades, as he probably would for a couple more years; the only static in the changing scenery around him. Till one day he would slowly fade away silently into the shadows. Like the night setting upon the day, death would slowly set upon him; the colors of his life would slowly be washed away with the black of death. Till then, all he could do was wait silently for the inevitable and final darkness.

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