It was purely by chance that he was found. Lying in a pile of garbage behind the temple, almost completely covered in the most vile and disgusting filth, maggot-ridden and gnawed at by vermin, he was near death. At his final moment, his eyes announced the beginning of a long journey, the great final journey that would take him away from himself and all that was familiar.

He was alone. He had nobody. But at least the stash of rupees found deep within a secret fold in his dhoti saved him from the ultimate indignity of being thrown into the river and washing up bleached, bloated and chewed at a few days later.

He had no-one to chant “ Bolo Hari Haribol “ as his body was taken to the pyre. He had no-one to chant mantras to cleanse his body. He had no son to call on to light his pyre to assist with his release from this life. Not even a daughter to stand with bowed head in mourning for him while his soul flew up eagerly to join with the universal spirit. He was alone - totally and utterly alone.

At the precise moment that the blood red sun disappeared behind Kalighat, dragging down the frightful heat of the day with it, with a well practised blow the temple worker brought down his neem cudgel smashing his skull into two neat pieces in a cascade of sparks. Not too long after, with an almost indecent haste, the temple staff shovelled what was left of him, hissing and spluttering into the insidious, swiftly flowing waters.

And suddenly, it was night.


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