Ram or Rahim by Ravneet sangha

He was looking around glancing , scared , knowing they would pounce on him from where it was unexpected . The sun was setting and the setting rays would blind him when he was cycling back. His cycle was rickety , old , the chain had been mended umpteen times and the basket was fraying , its ropes unravelling just as his life was right now . And he was wearing an old , stained kurta pajama the trademark of every villager in North India , it was stained in different places and the underarms had huge marks of sweat . His carrier at the back had a huge bag ad it was stuffed with potatoes . Freshly harvested potatoes picked from the field after harvesting had been done .He knew this is the way he would survive the pandemic , they had shut everything down . The thekha was open but the cobbler had no takers.He didn’t know how long he could survive , his wife was home and his unmarked daughter too . She had lost her job again , as the maids weren’t allowed into the high rise anymore .What was one supposed to do  ? He had called in every favour , used up all his savings and no one wanted his services anymore . This was stealing but they hadn’t bothered to check the field or any left over potatoes , he could keep some and sell the rest in the next village . The daily stealing and collecting and then cycling to the next village to sell was making him tired and a funny wheeze came after sometime. Ram Bharose knew of nothing of his village IN Uttar Pradesh , now home was Punjab and he was as Punjabi as they came.And all the funny talk in the mandir that we are Hindus and we shouldn’t trust the Muslims ,and even the sardars were just out to get us , they were siding with the Pakistanis .He didn’t know any of this, all this was spoken at night when people got together for the cheap drink under the guise of the darkness , no one could make out but they collected in the back alley ..He steered clear from all this , he didn’t believe in the propaganda . Imagine the fauji , being a terrorist, he was a Subedar retired who would regale everyone with stories from the 72 war . The harvest season would end in a few days and he had to make most of it when it was twilight otherwise the sardars would catch him and take away his loot . They ate potatoes at every meal and he tried to sell his produce and saved a bit of the money everyday . This wouldn’t last and he wasn’t strong enough to work in the fields . Tomorrow would be the last day , when he could go pick the potatoes , and he needed to visit atleast four fields Covid was killing people they said , the real killer is poverty and hunger . No one talked about that , they just said wear a mask , be inside , and do social distancing . Dooriyan , my foot , the hunger was killing them .It was the last day , the sun shone high and it was fierce , May was always unkind and the sun streamed the whole day long.it kept on stretching and the day seemed longe than before . He waited till the start of the setting of the sun and slowly , started collecting the potatoes , sometimes the rows had lots and some none at all . He carried on combing the field to collect as many as possible . It as dark and he was tired and as carrying his sack and dragging and shuffling his feet , looking behind his shoulder , worried and scared .One more lane and he would be in his home. And , suddenly he was ambushed because he was wearing a kurta pajama . The blunt object hit his head and he fell , blood gushing out , potatoes scattered everywhere and the cycle fell. The name didn’t even save him .  Ram Bharose.