The stench of burnt flesh, the pathetic cries of the wounded in agony, the faint noise of helpless footsteps, may be the perfect portray of chaos. Images, distorted, senseless, ominous more like a nightmare kept on shifting in front of me to unformed realities.
“Augh…” I gasped for air. I could feel nothing else but pain shooting through my veins possessing my body like an evil curse. It feels like the only thing left for me anymore. My heart was beating frantically trying to fulfil its deadline before it’s too late. Every breath felt like a luxury beyond reach, with a burden of no past experience pinning me, face down, with the wreckage.
“Where am I?” I thought as I strained to open my weighed down lids. I was buried in pitch blackness. “May be my eyes might still be shut”, I consoled myself.
Nothing makes sense! All I remember was the smile on the face of that little boy, almost the same age of my Munna, trying to reach for things from the cart his mother was pushing as she hurriedly filled it with groceries to roost back home before the curfew. I watched them at a distance as I myself was stuffing my cart when with an ominous blast something hit me hard from behind tossing me off to darkness. I just hope the boy and his mother are safe and back home to recite the terrible experience to her husband, as my heart skipped a beat knowing the worse.
I tried to push myself up in vain with my hands and I slipped on something warm and thick which was cuddling me like his beloved. I could trace it slowly trickling down, abiding the contours of my face and finally dropping down to replenish the puddle forming around me. It makes remember how my wife used to trace my face with her hands in a way of affection, “Jo, you just keep getting handsome day by day” and pull me to her and kiss me with passion.
A few minutes, may be hours ago, I might have been the happiest man in the world. I got a call from my wife about our Visa back to India, our homeland. Finally after months of paperwork it was sanctioned, when we were about to give up hope. I could feel her joy through the phone. We would be leaving in a weeks’ time. I just uttered a silent prayer to thank the almighty. All we wanted was our children to be safe and for us to be home. We have planned that it would be our last journey and to never return back. But now everything seems like the last flicker of a lamp caught in the wind.
With the tensions between the government and the extremists getting worse with every day all that was left for the common man were uncertainties about each day to come. No one wants war, but what is in our hands to decipher the twisted negotiations that the media exaggerate with their own fantasy, which should be branded as a felony. No one knew what was real and fake anymore. All we got were empty promises that the country’s priority would be its citizen’s safety and things were under control. They urged us every day to lead a normal life like always even with the heavy patrolling and men in uniforms posted at every so called “potential targets” they could think of. May be it was deceit all the while, to spread a false sense of safety, like the predator stepping back before his forward lurch to kill. Or maybe it was the “fate” of a few unfortunates like me.
I didn’t know what I should think now. Should I worry about my family? Would I make it home to see them again? Or am I alive, to begin with!
Death was never a thought for me. It seemed like a long way ahead to be of any concern. Each day ended with more plans, more pursuits and more deadlines for the future. Now everything seems to perish, each and every decision of my living.
The only thing I remember about death is my grandma’s ice cold pale body clad in white cloth burning in the pyre. I wept for her for days and days together remembering her telling me of how Yaman had returned “Satyavan to Savitri” seeing her devotion and love to her husband. But nothing of the sort happened to me. Time staged his magic again and like everyone I too moved on. She was reduced to a distant memory of warmth and affection, which now feels like the only thing left for me among this debris.
Suddenly I could see a faint light and someone walking towards me at a distance. I don’t know if it is figment of my thoughts. I tried to shout but not even a whisper escaped my mouth. I tried to lift my hand to wave for help but every part of me seems like an alien now. I give up and just lay there waiting for my ultimatum as the figure closed in.
Darkness started creeping in again……..
I could hear were my wife’s pipe dream ringing in my ear, “We will fly to India and build a small house enough for two, with a veranda overlooking a beautiful garden away from the rush of the city, and spend our old days, together in each other’s arms as we cherish our memories, till the end…..”