Dusk came sounding the conch echoing the cry of a blood hound, halting the battle, for battling after dusk is inglorious, but little did it help to stop the melee of right and wrong in the warrior’s heart.
Dusk came sounding the conch echoing the cry of a blood hound, halting the battle, for battling after dusk is inglorious, but little did it help to stop the melee of right and wrong in the warrior’s heart.
The world looked at their charred faces and burnt clothes,
Their debacle was all what people had to tattle
How their annihilation was an abomination
But only the smoke told the tale of the fiery flame they had to battle.
Oh dear lord, spare me from this misery,
For all the miseries you have put me through
Seems paltry before this affliction
I find no strength in any Holy Scripture or rosary.
My life seeks no more, all my hopes are far gone
The poison of revenge is seeping through my veins
But faith in God is all that remains
This world pleases me no more,
This world has nothing to offer me anymore.
This despised war for power and supremacy
Has taken away enough lives and souls
Has pitted brother against brother,
Has burned this heaven into ashes,
And all this for – Salvation, killing one’s own
For a spot next to the Lord – funny or foolish you may call
A joke indeed, a joke of the lives of people, a joke of a faith
People around here are not people anymore but mere wraith
The nights I slaved, the seas I braved, the life I craved
All has come to this very moment, washed up
He lay as innocent as he ever was, waiting to be woken up
But only to wake up somewhere else away from us.
Oh dear lord, as I hold the cold lifeless body of my child
In your holy shrine, show me your kingdom
Show me the kingdom you said that you built here
Show me the love you speaketh of, show me the compassion you believe in
For all I see around me is hate, anger, greed and lust.
For all I see around me is fire, blood and tears
For all I see around me is not love or hope
But evil seeds of revenge and angst.
Oh dear lord spare me from this misery.
Spare me from this despised heaven.
Succumbing to the pressure put by the media and opposition, the government took actions. A 3 member investigation team was appointed to investigate this case and I was to assist them. With them came 3 luxury cars just to get them from their air conditioned hotel rooms in the city to my town 30 miles away.
It’s been weeks already, the suspect would have cleared the international borders if possible. The next one month was a complete circus show in the name of investigation. The 3 investigators struggled to get the case somewhere. No witnesses, no clues and no idea what to do. Numerous people were interrogated in an attempt to find a witness, all of which failed miserably.
One night as I lay in my bed tossing and turning, a knock landed on my quarter’s door. I wasn’t sure if it was a knock or something else. It was one single uncertain knock. Although with a little fear I opened the door just to find a piece of folded paper. It said
“Find the culprit soon or pay the price with your life. Life for another life. We shall take yours.”
A cold shiver ran through my spines. My head whirled. When I regained my senses I turned around to grab my belongings and leave the place for good and explain later. While stuffing things into my bag a photograph fell. It was my family. They all stood there with all smiles and grins. I looked at my sister, what would have I expected from the Police if something dreadful like this were to happen to her and I revisited my oath “ I shall devote my life to my society…”
The next day I was informed that the investigation team will be gone for few days. But I wasn’t going to let it affect me. As a part of daily routine I went to meet the mother to furnish her with the details of the case as ordered by my superior. For the first time I saw her without tears in her eyes. I stood in front of her as she looked at me. The stare was different that day. It was not the usual helpless stare. I saw anger and frustration in her eyes. There was fire in her eyes and I was consumed by that fire. I did not utter a word. I simply turned and walked to my vehicle and during those couple of minutes all I could think was how I had failed my society and how I ended up being a part of this rotten system.
With new energy, I started the case afresh. I pulled out all the files and reports relating to the case. As I read the reports I came across many things and then it rose upon me that the entire world is a sham.
“She wasn’t a genuine girl. She always used to come and go at odd hours. My son has seen her roam around with some boy in the town. This is how such girls shall end.” this was a statement given by one of her neighbors and also one of the torchbearers of a protest staged by a local resident association demanding justice. The reports were a clear proof that the team including myself has never shown any sincerity during the investigation. There were many areas that we had completely ignored and I decided to start dusting it up one by one.
3 days had gone by and I waiting for some finger prints reports from the forensic lab when the special investigation team comes back with a suspect. Some laborer lad whose name had neither been mentioned in the reports nor have I seen this person anywhere close to my jurisdiction.
I was shocked and infuriated. This was highly unethical and had gone way too much. Justice is being denied for her soul, for her mother. I along with my reports met the investigation team only to be laughed off.
Announcements were made, and in a short while our smart brilliant investigators were seated in front of mic in a room filled with press personnel. Questions and praises were showered which was met by brilliant answers and humble acceptance. I stood near the sideline and watched these people making a mockery out of the entire legal system.
I could have gone ahead with my investigation and maybe even ended up nabbing the real brat but these monsters wouldn’t ever let the truth destroy their image and reliability. They would trample me under their bureaucrat boots and crush me with ease. I could have used my freedom of speech and could have come out with the truth using the media but isn’t the entire world a sham. Later I came to know from one of the guys in the top that the laborer lad was the government’s idea to put all this to sleep. Elections are round the corner isn’t it. I decided to let it all go but every night when I try to sleep, I see her helpless eyes staring into the space, those eyes which I saw that night as she lay unconscious on the road with half of her clothes torn and drenched in her own blood. The person who brought this misery to her must be watching all this and thanking his lucky stars.
I saw the mother for one more time, she did not see me, but I saw her well enough to see the same fire in her eyes. It hadn’t died and it wasn’t going to die until true justice was served.
As the curtain falls for this entire drama, everyone is going to go home happy except me. I am still burning in that mother’s fire and I want to liberate myself from it. I believe that I too am responsible for all this that has happened. Our society is just a blame game where no one is ready to take up the responsibility. The blame keeps on shifting from person to person until it falls upon someone incapable of responding. Hence in all such cases the blame falls upon the helpless victim fallen prey to brutal acts.
Like I mentioned earlier, in order to liberate myself from my guilt and due to lack of interest in being a part of this rotten system, Sir, I would like to put forward my resignation as the Sub-inspector of Police for your acceptance.
I believe that you shall take this matter into consideration with all importance and seriousness required.
I looked at her sitting there anxiously, her eyes filled with hope and mouthing prayers. I cursed all my superiors for having given me the responsibility to break the dreaded news to her.
The silence in the scarcely lit hallway was broken as the sound of my boots echoed. The news hasn’t been out yet. Not long before the press bombard this hospital with their insensitive questions and their demonic thirst for capturing the most out of this mother’s grief like a pack of wolves waiting to rip apart the helpless prey.
As soon as I neared her she jumped on her feet. I don’t know if it was the expression on my face or was it because I had my cap in my hand, she read the unfortunate news I was there to deliver, even without me having to utter a single word. She dropped the phone and pair of spectacles that she had clutched onto until that moment. She fell onto the chair sending a loud noise across the hallway. All I could do was place my arms around her as I would have done to my mother if she was under such pain ( I pray with all my might that my mother never comes across such pain). I could not find words that would even suffice as mere consolation.
As a son of an average factory foreman I have never had big dreams unlike my father. He dreamt a lot about me, but that dream did not have luxury cars or a glass cabin office or me in a high end suit, all it had was me in Indian Army uniform. It was on my 4th birthday my father announces that we were leaving for Sri Lanka soon. My father’s factory was opening a new factory there and he was required to go there. Like any other middle class Indian family, the family follows where the father goes. We stayed in Sri Lanka until my father retired. I had just completed my graduation when I returned to India. A young man filled with determination to turn out to be something in life. But in a desperate attempt to be a good son to my father, even though I had to overcome all the facts and numbers and reasons my heart had placed in front of me and my mother’s tears, I signed up for the army selection
Fortunately or unfortunately owing to some eyesight complications the Indian Army declared that I was physically unfit to join. My father was shattered. I remember the disappointment in my father’s eyes. And he knew it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing we could do about it. Until that day all I wanted was to do something for myself and my family. But that day changed me, that day I decided to devote my life to my society. The next few months was rigorous mental and physical training to crack the Sub-inspector of Police test. The results were out and all my hard work was fruitful.
Within couple of hours police forces were summoned to control the public and media gathering outside the hospital. Reporters were already there with their paraphernalia like Queen’s noble knights up for a merciless battle. They were on their toes leaning against the barricade with their tags around their necks waving bunch of papers screaming at everyone on the other side. Following the reporters came my superiors, Superintendent of Police, Director General of Police and list goes on. On the first signs of dawn the leaders started pouring in, both the ruling and the opposition. I was out helping my force maintain the cordon. It was then I was called up by the opposition leader. Although as per the protocol it was not necessary for a civil servant to present himself before the leader of the opposition when summoned but I decided to show up respecting his age and experience. He was seated in a special guest room. He sat in a cushioned seat surrounded by few of my superiors and many of his followers. There were vague murmurs until I stepped in. I grabbed everyone’s attention quite soon. Among all those stares I caught the leader’s stare. My stomach turned, my lungs felt heavy, there was a lump in my throat and sweat beads rolled down by my eyebrow. I struggled to maintain my composure. I stood upright and asked him if there was something that I could do.“Yes, you could have. You could have saved that life!” he said rather dramatically pointing at the ICU where the body was still kept. Nothing in me except the rolling beads of sweat moved. “How do you explain this Mr. Inspector?” I badly wanted to let him know that he did not have the authority to talk to me in that tone but I kept my manners intact. “Sir, it occurred at late night in a deserted area. We reached the spot as soon as we got the information and took the necessary steps to get her adequate medical attention. We have also taken a case…” before I could finish a young leader shot at me “Against whom?”. His voice roared and everyone for a moment looked a little shocked but came back to normalcy when they figured that their leader was fine with the youth’s action. “Sir, the investigation is ongoing. We have already passed the information to all nearby police stations. We are also questioning the nearby residents for any sort of witnesses.”
“Same old song huh Sub-inspector?” the leader spat with complete disgust.
Soon like an angel, a man entered the room and whispered something into the leader’s ears. He shook his head in complete inference. He slowly got up and everyone in the room followed him. He stopped in front of me, looked right into my eyes and in his deep hoarse voice he said “I shall take your case some other day.” The entire opposition squad left and I still stood there frozen.
It was Christmas for the Media. News cable networks conducted debates, open discussions with an expert panel of sociologists and psychologists. Newspapers printed whole two sheets for this wretched incident. The entire nation fumed in anger, soon protests were staged. Political parties, their youth wings, non-political organizations, neighborhood organizations who ever wanted to be famous came out on the streets with placards and banners. I just couldn’t digest the fact that all this commotion due to something that happened in my jurisdiction. Some place people didn’t even know that existed few weeks ago.
As the media and opposition joined hands in putting immense pressure on the government, we were the ones who bore the brunt of it.
Me and my superiors were constantly summoned and harassed by the concerned authorities and elected representatives for the next few weeks. In one entire month that I have been in service in this station never have I ever thought for once that I would have to deal with such a heinous crime. Yes, it is my shortcoming that I couldn’t stop it from happening but with 5 police officials and one rusty decades old Police vehicle there was only little that I could have done.
He frowned and stared down into the city. The newspaper crumbled under his clutch. The report said “Rather cloudy across the region with heavy, showery rains.” The clouds got darker as they stood right above the busy city. He hated when it rained, the entire city would turn upside down. The roads got filled up and the city got dirty. His brand new BMW would get all dirty.
This came in the worst possible time for him, he had a high profile meeting today and he had to be impressive. The thought of his ARMANI suit getting wet made him frown even more. He immediately rang up his secretary and ordered her to ensure that the security was out with an umbrella waiting for him. He dressed up and slid into his BMW grumbling. Just as he had expected the roads were filled up, and the traffic was just intolerable. ‘The only thing makes the city look like one is the tall buildings and the pretty cars in the traffic but apart from these, this place is like a wretched village.’ he thought aloud. He sat there right in between honking cars all around and all he could do was curse the rain.
Quite far from him, in a deserted backward village a 9 year old girl ran with joy and happiness. She couldn’t wait to tell this to her mother, she knew it would make her happy. Her baby brother was playing with stones right outside their tiny house. Their house had only one room which was divided by a small piece of old cloth. The other side of the cloth was the kitchen. She dashed into the kitchen where her mother was cooking something with her baby sister on her hands. “Maa, it is going to rain!! There are dark clouds all over the village! It is going to rain!” she screamed with excitement as she held onto her mother. But without even the slightest sign of happiness she said “Where is your brother? Go and get him!” She left the kitchen with her head hung down in despair. She was confused, she had heard her pray to God a million times to bless her with a shower. Deep inside the lady’s heart, she was jumping with happiness and joy just like her daughter was a while ago.
She took the broom and all other cleaning paraphernalia and set out to work. She wasn’t a sweeper, she would have been more than happy if she was a sweeper. She was in charge of cleaning the ‘dry’ toilets of many houses in the village. The village people did not have normal toilets that functioned with a flush instead they have dry toilets and these had to be cleaned every day. This was her job, not because she chose to do it but she was ‘supposed’ to do it. She belonged to the caste who traditionally have been doing this odd job from ages, just because they are considered the lowest in the caste system. This job was hereditary. She is, what we call them in the city, a manual scavenger.
Her daughter was right, the clouds burst and it started to shower profusely. Her heart was filled with contentment. For her rain meant purification, for her rain was a boon, a gift of God, sometimes rain itself is the God for her. She walked in the rain enjoying every single drop of it. Completely drenched in the rain, she reached the houses where half of her job had already been done by the rain. Without much complains and protests she went on to do her job with a smile in her face.
Manual Scavenging is a grievous job still existing in many parts India including cities and backward villages. In the cities, men are tied and roped down into sewage to clean them up. Many have lost their lives due to suffocation while doing this dreadful job. In the villages, dry toilets still continues to prevail over flush toilets and people of the lower caste are forced to take up the job of cleaning these toilets.
The people from this caste are not given any other jobs in the village other than this. They are seen as untouchables. They have to get their own glasses to drink tea from any tea stall in the village. They are not permitted entry to any of the temples. Not even haircuts are given to them in any of the saloons in the village. We are not talking about pre-independence India here, it’s the 21st century India. All though the constitution of the country have set rules against such acts, the governments who have been in rule have failed to ensure strict implementation of the same. It is very disturbing to know that human beings are forced to do such odd jobs only because of the villagers are being ignorant to sanitary advancements.
The parathwala was done for the day and was cleaning up the place just before he shut it. He sat in the bus stop watching him clean up. The silence around filled his empty heart. The memories of that place killed him quicker than the cigarette he was smoking. The thought of a life without her presence weakened his soul. He stared into the sky and blew the smoke out. As the dark smoke cleared up, he caught the moon staring at him. He smiled at it thinking about a story he would always tell her.
It was a full moon night, so were many nights when he was with her. They would always look at it together. Today he sat there staring at it alone. Unknowingly he reached out for her hands but all he found was an empty space beside him.
Moon fell in love with our Earth. Of course you can’t blame the moon, Earth was unique. There might be queens and princesses but Moon liked Earth the most because Earth wasn’t like everyone else. There was something about Earth that always attracted the Moon. Earth became the centre of Moon’s life. But as fate has it, they were meant to be apart forever. So, all Moon can do is watch Earth from far and dream that one day a miracle would happen and they would get to be together. But that won’t be the end of Moon’s miseries, there will come the Sun and the beautiful Earth will shine in the Sun’s brightness. The same brightness that will shadow the Moon. But the moon will never give up, every night moon would come out and admire the beauty of the earth. When he was done, she would laugh at him and he would fall in love with her all over again.
He never knew that it would be the last time he will be seeing her. Every night before he went to sleep a tiny part of him hoped that maybe tomorrow he would be able to see her again but it never happened. And now he has run out of time, and still she never returned.
Far away, she sat next to her window staring at the full moon, smiling about the story he always used to tell her and she reached out for his hands but all she found was empty space beside her.