The sands under his feet grew from a wind-blown-freedom to the bondage of brine; the loftiness of the mingled cosmopolitan stench to a simple seaward breeze of fish and water. And today, it both benumbed and surprised him that there was no one behind him. His skinny brown legs shone in a film of sweat and sea-side moisture. He was panting. The walk had been a long one. He breathed and threw his stick away and dropped on the slipping sand like a cripple with a severed third leg. A lonely dirty white crab ducked into a mysterious hole and peeped stealthily to watch for an approaching sea-food-wave. He threw his round rimmed glasses into a gargle of sand and recoiling waves; it stumbled and disappeared like a smothered wisp in a quicksand. Somewhere in the distance, a choir of starving children brimmed with an innocent pride as they scaled the mixed and matched notes of a song that had once made his people glow with an inward pleasure of their life and birth. And when the song ended, he could hear the applause like a distant lit string of firecrackers. And out of the faraway trees and into the unfortunate dirtiness of the modern life, there rose a bunched-something on a pole. It rose in spurts, evidently from spasmodic pulling below. And as the firecrackers roared on, the bundle came undone in a burst of petals. Someone let loose a lost white dove that fluttered into the clasps of a hungry unseen passerby hawk. The applause grew louder as the bundle grew into the fullness of a lush-military-green, the dying-dove-white and dried-blood-saffron. The seaside wind dragged it in tugs. He could smell the tears of happy smiles. They were the people of god; Harijans. He had been there before.
The wetness of the sands seeped into the folds of his dhoti like a blotch on a blotter.
He bled from a wound that had killed him. It was borne of hatred and pickled in a leaden bullet. It did not sting him any more.