This weeks prompt at Sunday Scribblings is Beauty
The repulsive lingering stench was tangible. More than a foul smell, it invaded the atmosphere and filled my lungs. All around me crooked rambling shacks of tin, wooden poles concrete and cloth, leaned in support of one another. Through open doorways, wide eyed mothers with babes wrapped and strapped to their bodies, stared suspiciously as I walked by. In the centre of the rubbish strewn narrow street sat a gulley of stagnant torpid water. Above its oily surface droning bloated flies darted, skimmed and dived
The heat was oppressive. It closed in on me, enveloped me, and pressed down on me. I looked toward the sky but it wasn’t there. Above me all I saw was a mass of grey polluted dust blocking out the scorching midday sun.
Ten, maybe twelve screaming, laughing children rushed me from behind then surrounded me. ‘English?’ they giggled. ‘Manchester United?’ Then they held out their hands but it wasn’t for money or even food. ‘Pens mister? Pens?’ I’d come prepared, and I handed out my pocketful of Biros.
They scampered away and disappeared between the rambling shacks. A group of women glided towards me. The oppressive gloomy hue suddenly came alive as their swirling saris lit up street with a dazzling display of colour. They passed, their heads bowed, things said behind cupped hands.
I turned a corner and walked toward the river. The street was criss-crossed with ropes from which hung a multicoloured display of garments recently washed on the bank of the Yamuna. The dirty brown river tumbled and rushed on its way to the sea as women men and children scrubbed and washed and bathed in its polluted water.
I have seen many beautiful places during my travels around the globe. I’ve seen sights that have literally taken my breath away. Wonders of the world, sights that would make heaven itself dull by comparison. But on that day amid the depravation and squalor I saw true beauty. I can’t put into words the feeling that came over me in the slums of Delhi. I came away with laughter ringing in my ears. When I close my eyes I can still see a palette of colours. Beauty against all odds. True beauty.
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