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A fistful of rupees (standard:drama, 8093 words)
Author: Vincent LuharAdded: Feb 01 2017Views/Reads: 695/336Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
One lakh rupees can change the fate of many lives in this tale of a Rickshaw driver eking out a living in the Holy city of Varanasi.

A Fistful of Rupees By Vincent Luhar 

Arjun Dharma looked at the immense wall. It towered high above him,
disappearing into the grey sky. It seemed to stretch forever to the 
left and the right. No one else was around. The peace and silence was 
uncanny. There wasn't even any wind; the air was still, unmoving. 

He walked slowly to the wall and realised it wasn't made of bricks or
stone but instead of tiny pieces of folded paper. A multitude of 
colours and textures greeted him as he reached out and placed a small 
hand on the rough surface. It hummed and shimmered upon his touch, 
almost as if it was sentient, aware of his presence. 

Arjun took in a deep breath, let it out slowly and then retrieved a
small folded scrap of old newspaper from his battered shorts pocket. 
There must be billions or maybe even trillions of prayers all stacked 
high. With a trembling hand he lifted the newspaper scrap to the wall 
and teased it into a crack. 

Suddenly a truck horn blared in his ears jolting him. Someone screamed
an obscenity at Arjun and swerved his truck impatiently around the 
cycle rickshaw Arjun was sitting on. He found himself once again 
sitting in heavy traffic on the streets of the holy city of Lord Shiva, 
Varanasi, India. Arjun shook his head, the truck driver had managed to 
gain a few feet in front of him and come to a stand still. He glared at 
him in the wing mirror as if it was Arjun's fault he was unable to move 
any further. Arjun shrugged his shoulders, business as usual in India. 

People were sounding their car horns all around him but the traffic
didn't seem to be moving any quicker. Arjun peered ahead and noticed 
two cows were slowly making their way against the traffic. People were 
getting mad and shouting and screaming but it made no difference to 
these animals, in a country where cows were worshipped as living Gods 
there wasn't really anything that could be done to change their paths. 
The people would just have to wait until they passed or find another 
route to their final destination. 

‘Ill get off here,' said the irate passenger and handed Arjun a coin. He
stepped off the cycle rickshaw and was soon lost in the busy street. 
Arjun tipped his baseball cap like he had seen the cowboys of the old 
westerns do on late night reruns and pocketed the cash. He got off the 
rickshaw and then wheeled it away from the busy road. 

He couldn't wait for the Monsoon season to start, people will definitely
cool down then. Once away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd he 
climbed back on his rickshaw and brought his cap down over his eyes. 
Sleep came quick and soon he started to snore. 

‘Have you gone deaf boy!' said a rude man who had climbed into Arjun's

Arjun lifted his cap and turned to stare at the passenger. He was of
slight build, wiry like a runner with short cropped hair. He held a 
slim battered briefcase that had seen better days close to his chest. 
Arjun smiled and said, ‘where to uncle?' 

‘Drop me off near the Pyare-lal Private hospital, and make it quick.' 

Arjun shuddered; a chill went down his spine, despite the baking heat.
Going to the hospital meant riding past the Burning Ghats. The city of 
Varanasi was famous throughout India for its close proximity to the 
Holy River, The Ganges. Various Ghats where located along the banks 
where the people came to swim and bath in the life giving waters. 

The burning Ghats were the only place along the sacred river where the
fires of cremation burned day and night in an industry of death. It was 
the one place Arjun was most afraid of. 

‘Ten rupees,' said Arjun. 

‘The man gave Arjun a disgusted incredulous look. ‘Ten!' he boomed. 

Arjun merely shrugged. ‘You can get another rickshaw if you don't like
my rates,' he said, hoping this would make the man leave. But the 
stranger didn't budge. Sweat was poring off his forehead onto his 

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