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Yesterday there was quite a breeze blowing. It was beautiful watching the trees bending and bowing this way and that. The dried leaves could be heard running around all over the yard like unruly children let out of the classroom with no teacher in attendance to control them. They had managed to escape the pile where they were languishing, waiting for someone to light them and turn them to ash. An inevitable end. Perhaps they thought, now that they had escaped, one last run around the yard was warranted, especially with the wind encouraging them, inciting them openly to rebel.

What the heck, they must have thought. What if anything worse could happen to us? We’d be swept up again and burnt. No big deal. That was their fate anyway. This way they could enjoy one last round of freedom. So they chattered happily as they played in the yard, going around in circles, then in straight lines and when the wind made them, in wavy lines too. When they got tired some let themselves be carried towards flowerpots, while the rest lay wherever they were, staring up at the evening sky slowly turning an orange shade.

Those trapped in the narrow space between the flowerpots and the wall against which they stood, paused to recover their breath and looked around. Not bad. They had a nice hideout. The breeze trying to keep the game going, blew harder to oust them. No, they said, lets rest here for a while. No one will find us here or burn us. So the breeze let them be and turned to those in the middle of the courtyard, blowing them towards the gate.

It was thus that some of the dried leaves suddenly found themselves under the gap between the huge gate guarding the compound and the ground below. They stood there, pushing and shoving each other, trying to peer at what lay beyond. A new world of tarred road with grass growing on either side lay before them. The next puff of strong breeze carried them to the other side of the gate with force and before they knew it something huge, a car, whooshed past on the road, scattering them.

Separated from their friends, they no longer chattered. It was getting dark and the wind was dying down. So they lay wherever they had landed, some on the grass, and others on the hard road wondering what life held for them now, how it all would end. The next morning when the municipal sweeper came, they knew. The end was the same whether inside the gate or outside on the road. They were piled up and burnt.

© Shail Mohan 2019

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