Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lucky at cards, unlucky in love

Rajat was roaming with a gun hanging on his shoulder and doing his patrolling duty. He had been appointed as a patrolling officer to look after the newly constructed railway line in Baramula Dist of Srinagar. Before this he was guiding artillery and they had some inquiry on the recent encounters in which few civilians also died. Till the inquiry was complete, he had been appointed away from civilian sphere.

Rajat had two officers along with him to take care of this line. It was lunch time and Rajat was not feeling like having anything, so he requested the other officers to leave. While he was walking along the line, he saw a girl, hardly of seven eight years, coming near the track. He yelled at her to halt but she didn’t listen it. She was walking as if she had lost her senses. Being in army for years, rajat had seen many lady suicide bomber or female militants so he ran toward her. Reaching near her, he shouted again to stop, but no impact. Then the horn of the train broke the silence and rajat looked back. A train was approaching and the girl was also walking toward the track. Confused in mind, rajat had to take off his gun from shoulder and then shouted at the girl to stop. After three warnings and just few steps distance between the track and the girl, rajat pulled the trigger.

She woke up in an army hospital with her leg covered with bandages and her hands with drips of blood and glucose. She saw an army officer sitting on a chair near her bed and a nurse looking at some monitors and noting some something. Seeing that she had regained the consciousness, rajat stood up from his chair and introduced him. But she seemed numb. Rajat asked the nurse that if someone from the patient’s family had contacted the hospital administration yet. The nurse nodded her head to say no. Rajat appointed a guard and gave instructions to the nurse to take care of her till her family members contact hospital administration. Every day during lunch break rajat used to come and also spent his after office hours sitting on a chair next to her bed. Everyday rajat asked that lady about her family but she didn’t speak at all. Everyday rajat used to tell her several stories, sometimes fairy tales and sometimes his encounters with protestors. She never had any reaction on any story, not even a single expression.

                      Doctor called rajat and told him that she was fine now and she should be discharged from hospital. Upon asking the doctor where to keep her as nobody knew her family. The doctor suggested an orphanage near the hospital. Rajat was no agreement to put her in an orphanage but he left with no option. He talked with CO’s (commandant officer) family about the girl while having dinner with them. The CO’s wife didn’t have any kids and it’s been eleven years of their marriage. Upon listening about the girl, they showed interest in adopting the girl. Rajat was happy because he wanted that girl to be in safe hands. Next day after discharging from hospital, rajat took her to court where they filled legal papers for adoption. The girl reached her new home where her new mother was waiting for her.

                      Everyday rajat used to come after office hours to his CO’s place to meet that girl and tell her stories. One day when he and she were sitting in lawn, she uttered her first time. She pointed toward the Moon and asked him “How coward is this moon and the numerous stars, they come after Sun goes behind those mountains and as soon as Sun comes up, they hide themselves. Why are they afraid of Sun, they don’t know ‘Union is strength’. Why don’t they stand and face the Sun”. It was the most difficult complicated problem he had ever faced in his life. He didn’t have any answers for that. He smiled back at her and kissed her forehead and told her to give him some time for his answer. After that that girl started interacting with her new family and became a part of them. Rajat also gave her the answer of her question in an official language. His commandant officer had night duty for sometime and rajat had morning patrolling. So he told that girl as her dad and he had a deal in their duty timings , then Sun and the moon had their own. So this act of mutual compromise between Sun and stars doesn’t make anyone coward or anyone stronger. Girl agreed with the answers.

                            It’s been three years, an official inquiry on civilian encounter came up with the results and rajat & his fellow colleagues were not found guilty due to lack to evidence & witnesses. All came out of the court with a cheerful face, other than rajat. He was silent and walking alone out of the court. He started his bullet and started driving toward Avantipura . Avantipura was the village where they had that encounter three years in which seven militants had annexed a house and Rajat along with his team stormed in the house and killed all the seven militants along with three family members, a middle aged guy, his wife and their son. Rajat reached the place where encounter took place. He went inside that home. Someone else had started living in that place. Upon asking about previous owners, the new residents replied that in army encounter all the four members of the family died. Rajat was perplexed with the fact they had mistakenly killed three members, who killed the fourth member. He asked for the family picture. He looked at the picture and asked for some water. He saw that girl whom he saved from the track three years back in the picture. He left that place and reached his CO’s place.

                      The girl had gone to school; he waited for her in the lawn. Co’s wife told him several times to wait inside the drawing room but he resisted. The girl came from the school and seeing him sitting in the lawn, she ran toward him and hugged him tightly. Both came inside and had lunch. Commandant Officer congratulated him for not being released from the enquiry. Upon listening this news, the girl demanded for chocolate to celebrate. Rajat tried to put smile on his face and gave some money to his guard to buy chocolates for her. Again the girl and Rajat went to the lawn. Rajat saw a rope hanging from a tree. He asked he what this rope was for. The girl humorously answered “for hanging the criminals” and then told that it was for the swing which they would make for her. After sometime chatting with her, rajat stood up, hugged her and kissed her on forehead and said “What hangs people …..  is the unfortunate circumstance of guilt” and left the place.

                       He reached at the same place where he had shot that girl. He parked his bullet and started walking toward the track. He saw the train coming from the other end and it kept blowing its horn.

Silence Prevails,

Aditya Deadpan