The Medley

is a twice-a-year literary journal run by the students of Hansraj College, University of Delhi. It is a repository of stories, poems and essays sent to us from around the world since 2018.

The Lament of the Damned

She sat down after an hour of hard work. Her body did not need rest; her mind did so she sat. The morning had just begun and life in the city was already bustling about her. She had started her work when the world was still waking from its slumber and by now, there were sounds of footsteps everywhere. She was a good observer but today she looked straight ahead and noticed nothing. Strangely, her body did not feel exhaustion; such was the power of the mind. Sitting on the raised pavement beside the road, she remembered. It had all began a few years ago. A time when the world was new and all was well all she had to do was sweep away the dried leaves off the streets. She did that all day and never felt remorse. But deep inside she knew that she was not made for it. The feeling had always been there, gnawing at her. Then one day she saw her only son picking up a neglected broom and sweeping as his mother did. That triggered something in her and she felt a numbness pass through. It was as they say – a moment of epiphany. That evening she beat her son black and blue. The succeeding months were then spent in painful contemplation. The dried leaves seemed to get heavier each day. She was a knowledgeable woman and the world was no mystery to her. She had been there to see the old world – the one with the Systems and Structures where oppression, discrimination and every other imaginable vice existed. She was young, poor and rebellious. That world disappointed her greatly. Then in her late twenties, it happened. Visionaries and revolutionaries rose from among the masses, heaved and upturned the world and put it in a new place. They told her – it would be a world of equality and peace. Subsequently the erudite put their heads together and constructed a mechanism in which every person would be employed and will receive a satisfying remuneration to run their lives comfortably. And that is how she became a sweeper, someone she would have already been, had the old world stayed. She knew what would become of her son after her time. He had neither the means nor the luck to make it big in life. Because the new world ensured that a sweeper’s son becomes a sweeper. But she… she was an ambitious sweeper and she knew the power of her mind.

Does this sound all too fictional? It should. Because that is precisely how she viewed it after years of being in the new world. She constantly marveled at how ironically the Structures remained intact. For her the old and the new were just the same. She and the generations after her were eternally damned. The world had nothing special to offer them. The stagnation became her damnation. Of course, she was not ‘poor’ anymore. She did not have to do demeaning works to sustain herself. The world gave her what it had promised – the means for a comfortable living. She could not complain against what was not offered - progress and what good was money if it was not to be used for her son’s social mobility?

One must by now understand that her thoughts were therefore, not simple and short termed. She was a philosopher, she had ideas, she was a revolutionary. Years were spent in thinking and another set of years in preparation. This day, as she sat on the roadside she felt only one thing – worth. This day is to be recorded in history books as the onset of a revolution.

The details of a revolution are too tedious to go into but rest assured that she succeeded in awakening a stagnant people into revolt. Once again the world changed. Was it for the better or for the worse, nobody knows. Nevertheless, a female hero was born, an exemplar modern woman whose history would be read by young aspirants of the coming ages. Surely she led a happy life thereafter and so did her son and his children after him. But like every other revolutionary her ideas were flawed. She was too much of an idealist and while her own lineage thus continued happily, one could see the residue of her utopian vision, on the streets. To this very day dried leaves get cleared off the roads to appeal to the aesthetics of the better placed ones of the world. They do not see the darker side of the earth where a lament rises every minute of the day. Generations of sweepers live and die hoping to see the days of some revolution, those glorious days that would fleetingly bring them to the top of the food chain only to ensure more revolutions.

Author’s Note: The inspiration for this story was drawn from an unknown woman whom I happened to pass on the streets. My nationality, the intricacies of the Russian revolution, Nietzsche and dystopianism were contributing factors.

Christina John

Christina is an amateur who loves to delve deeper into the mysteries of literature. She would love to be invisible to everything around her. She has the firm belief that books, cinema and the right kind of professors can change your world.