The old man found himself tossing his son’s clothes away after watching his pyre burn all evening. He died young, succumbing to an illness and perhaps also because of hunger. The son was gone, the old man still lived as did his hunger. He walked back to the crematorium, pulled out his son’s shirt from a Banyan tree and sold it. He ate a whole meal that day. The rituals and beliefs in certain parts of India follow the custom of disposing of the clothes of any deceased person soon after their death. Passing on these clothes or selling them without disclosing the truth of their source is considered a sin and a crime. An internal tussle ensues and soon hunger collides with guilt. With the food on his plate at stake, what will weigh heavier, his hunger or his guilt?
Food on ones plate, clothes on ones back these two are the most basic needs of a human being. However some unfortunate ones struggle to meet all three needs day after day. This story ties up the need for clothes and the need for food with the struggle for existence. Rituals and beliefs in certain parts of India dictate that the clothes and personal belongings of the deceased still hold their vibrations, their energies, their luck and their traumas. These clothes are to be disposed at their earliest, also so that the grieving family members don’t see them as symbols of their attachment to the departed. It is inauspicious and taboo to wear the clothes of the dead, they are left unattended, tossed and dumped in the corners of crematoriums and funeral grounds. The old man found himself tossing his sons clothes away after watching his pyre burn all evening. He died young, succumbing to an illness and perhaps also because of hunger. The son was gone, the old man still lived as did his hunger. He walked back to the crematorium, pulled out his son’s shirt from a Banyan tree and sold it. He ate a whole meal that day. The stomach can be described as a dark bottomless well which can never remain filled forever. Hunger returns, as does the old man, first to that tree at the crematorium and then to the market. He does this without thought, for food, for survival, day after day after day. The scavenger, the name this story goes by, is representative of the old man’s character. The vulture does not harm anyone, rather it scavenges on the remains of the dead. It is its hunger that drives it to do so; just the way the story’s protagonist is driven to the cremation ground by his. It is in the nature of a vulture to not have a conscience, but humans have been blessed and cursed with one. On some evenings the old man finds his conscience facing him, asking him how far he would go and how long he would take to decide what is wrong and what is right. On those nights this man sleeps hungry, oblivious to the power of hunger which will transform him into a scavenger, again, tomorrow.