SATYANWESHANA

Prologue

Circa 1983

Rains were lashing all across the city disrupting the normalcy of the people. 

Power cuts plagued this particular locality and the households which could afford a television were slowly losing their celebrity status. 

However, there were a few loyalists who frequented these homes even during rains, to be a part of the frequent ritual of staring at blank screens.

Today, the entire city woke up praying asking the rain gods to take a break, and by afternoon, surprisingly the weather took a turn for the better. 

The sun was shining through the gradually dispersing clouds.

The offices and schools were shut and there were hordes of people gathered around these celebrity households.

 There were other important places cropping up in the locality, especially ones where the services of the radio could be availed. 

There were a lot of oscillating voices expressing anguish, exasperation and joy. 

After a couple of hours, there was an uncanny silence that engulfed the entire locality. 

It was the last ball of the 52nd over and Michael Holding was facing Mohinder Amarnath. 

The next moment was something no one ever expected and many couldn’t actually believe.

India had just achieved the unlikely- a win over probably the best cricket team ever.  

People were rejoicing the win and that particular moment was a small victory for every one of them who ran around the streets distributing sweets and even more for those optimistic people who had stocked up crackers. 

It had been quite some time  since India unified in such large numbers. 

All the sadness, enmity and hatred were forgotten momentarily.

The sky was glittering and the world seemed happy but solemn through the eyes of the kid who was looking at all the revelry through his window. 

He turned his gaze down to the streets where the actual celebration was happening and silently cursed his Baba’s convictions.

Baba was a pious man with a respectable standing in the society and he believed that movies and sports were the two evils from which children had to be protected.

He didn’t want them to be distracted from the goal of uplifting their families from its prevailing middle class existence. 

The kid looked back longingly at the wisp of smoke that was left by the cracker that just almost reached the moon and walked up to the terrace to pick up the clothes left there for drying.

The kid was livid with his Baba, he jumped down the ledge and went down the alley behind his house and lodged himself in his favourite spot. 

A place which no one else knew and he was concealed enough to escape from his parents when they were angry at him, which seemed to be any moment now. He settled himself snugly in that excuse of a crevice and was looking at the still river that was not the least affected by the turn of events.

Amidst all the celebrations and cacophony, the sound of a departing soul went unheard, but unfortunately not unseen. 

The kid’s eyes were transfixed at the scene unfolding in front of him.

The blood had formed a small puddle and there were splatters all over the walls.

 There were also a couple of drops trickling down the brows of a kid who ceased to be one at that moment. 

The kid was shocked and his body became rigid.

His eyes now reflected the crimson of the blood and the unnerving calmness of the river

 

Circa 2015

He woke up with a startle with his body all sweaty. 

He firmly held the gun in his hand and ran it over his forehead, wiping the sweat, lingering on for an extra second over his brow and locked eyes with her.

He then gulped a couple of glasses of water walked out of his room to collect the paper.

He started off with the sports section, put down the paper on the coffee table and trained his gun at the blindfolded, tied and gagged girl in front of him.

He checked his watch.

It was time.

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