Beneath this big banyan tree, with its sprawling branches and adventitious roots, there is a little mound on which a rocky chabootara and a rickety slab structure stand. Here I have spent many nights wide awake.
I do not know how and why I developed such a weird fascination towards the tree but whenever I happen to be in Devas, my feet propel me to take and make me sit on the slab structure from dusk to dawn. There is nothing scenic or picturesque about the environment – only barren and infertile mass of land bereft of any greenery except some tall trees and shrubs of tropical mould which are generally grown in an arid zone unattended or inhibited by the general population – find their existence.
Allow me a little digression. I was transferred to Indore from Delhi at the fag end of my career by some unscrupulous elements who were hell bent on feeding fat their ancient grudges against me. During my tenure as Director Telecom Rural Network, Indore, I often made extensive tours as was required for the project for providing a village public telephone in every village of the country. Devas fell under my jurisdiction. It is a small dinghy town situated between Ujjain and Indore bisecting an arcual distance of about 70 Kms between them. It was the headquarters of an SP and a Divisional Engineer Telecom and is now developing industrially by leaps and bounds and fast becoming a political hub.
Cut back to the arborescent arcade of Devas through which I pass and sit on that slab structure and indulge in my nocturnal activities alfresco. I take an overview of the ambience, the big banyan tree which is a habitat for many birds, fouls and probably owls who steadily drool over each other before having a blissful sleep inviting me in the process and whispering that I was no better than them and so why not join them mirthfully.
My Engineering Assistant, Shadaab Ali, who accompanies me often fumes and frets –“Sir, what brings you here at this hour of the day at this barren place devoid of any mirth or music?”
“Well Shadaab, what you say is true, but see, I want some time and space in quietitude and practice silence there”
“How do you practice silence at such a filthy place?” he quipped.
“See, I wish to be alone into the quietest place available and sit down for sometime. Then I conceive my mind as quiescent, inactive. It is not easy at first because thoughts are stirring up the mind. So, I conceive my mind as the surface of a body of water as is in the nearby pond or lake whatever you call it and see how nearly quiet I can make it so that there is no ripple. When I attain a quiescent state, then I begin to listen for the deeper sounds of harmony and beauty of God that are to be found in the essence of silence.”
“Is it a transcendental meditation …. Beyond boundaries and all that..?”
“ Oh! Shahdaab! I am not a recluse or anchorite … I just love freedom from the hustle bustle of the smoke-grimed city, motor car horns, the roar of aeroplanes and other strident noises. The modern life with its acceleration of pace, annihilation of space and time, the raucous and bristling music with lure of money and luxury is just killing. It is rarely possible to an individual to walk in deep woods or sit by the lake or meditate on a mountain top or on this little mound to listen to the music of silence, and enjoy the rustle of winds, the gentle aromatic breezes and …”
“Oh! Sir, these are highly technical … err.. no, no… highly spiritual words which are passing over my vacant head – Please, Sir, allow me to take leave and settle down to my normal duties. Now that my wife and my little daughter Afsana must be waiting for me … You must be thinking that I am an obstinate mule but I can’t refrain myself in putting these queries every now and then.
“Ok, ok … Shadaab … Sorry .. I have detained you … Each to his liking-you to your domesticities and me to this silence of music …!”
“So, see you tomorrow, Sir in the office. ‘Good Night Sir’”
“Good Night, Shadaab and have a blissful sleep with your little Afsana and her mother.”
Shadaab waded through the dry leaves. The rustling was audible. I could see from his body language and haggard face that he was thoroughly disenchanted with my logic and could not make head or tail of what I had been so laboriously heaping upon his grizzly head. The whole thing to him was absolutely preposterous.
For a short while, I strolled along the barren stretch. A gulmohar, an amaltas and several kanail trees arraigned at random with shrubs interspread were perhaps mocking at me after his exit. Ahead of the gulmohar tree on a sloping precipice was a Harshingar tree which mesmerized the locale with its amazing tiny flowers in white and orange trinklets with its mild fragrance wafting through the ambience. Throughout the night little dazzling flowers dipped and made a blanket of white flowery bed punctuated by orange tiny cylindrical shoots. Nature is benign to cover the whole tapestry of the piece of orchard so lovely and so ecstatic which otherwise had been mercilessly and relentlessly devasted by indiscriminate felling of the trees which earned their existence by consuming years of sun, soil and saline beverage of the virgin earth.
Beyond the Harshringar tree, yet again, there was a vast stretch of barren, junky and strabous, uneven land full of thorny bushes. Then there was a large pond full of stench and filthy water body which was the habitat of rodents, reptiles and other insects. Turbots and Rana-Tigrina waxed eloquence now and then in their hoarse Ae.. Oe.. voice and before raising to feverish pitch, these slithered away in the muddy waters. The pond was not actually a pond but a stretch of some rivulet which necessitated construction of an over bridge over the spot comprising of swales, marshy depressions wherein more often than not swags were flung over or preserved over a period of time. The catchment area was quite large and the perimeter could be well over 3 kms.
Intitutively, I reckoned that night, of all the nights was shattered and something was going to happen sooner than later. There was susurration in the air. A very slow whispering wind punctuated the otherwise eerie silence of the ambience. Slight drizzling followed after shrieking lightening struck in the distance which created a horror. That however, could not persuade me to get up and make a hasty retreat. A pensee crossed my mind now and then – the road is lonely, barren and steep – and I have miles to go before I sleep.
The drizzling abated but it was getting murkier. I felt that a black silken cloud sat beside me invoking a bewildering aroma of smoky conundrum. I was feeling a bit nostalgic about a similar situation a few days back which brought me to my tenterhooks. When someone in the vicinity blew a whistle I stared hard in the pitch black silence but nothing was either visible or audible but for low incoherent voices of the jheengars and insects or worms which formed part of the ecology.
Slowly the lights improved and I could see the low radiance of karnail flowers in the slumber state and harshringar flowers dripping from the tree forming a flowery carpet on the precipice which slowly and steadily swelled.
Now, what was it? I rubbed my eyes :- the carpetted bed seemed to be in motion. Oh, no … can’t be. It must be some illusion. See now.. it is not moving. It is lying still, calm, sedate, No motion.!
What an absolute muck I am?
A muck…..yes .!.. though doesn’t it resemble a person draped in a blanket and covered with harshringar flowers….. so decently and ornately dressed up !
Suddenly I shivered….it appeared as a corpse bedecked with flowers,harshringar flowers. Who could have dropped this deadbody here? I had been sitting on the slab for several hours by now…. Never did I see such a horrific spectacle. Bewildering…..bizarre..!
Oh..! that’s what I say…. An absolute muck… Arre it is simply a blanket over which harshringar flowers have been dripping throughout the night and made it look like a bedsheet bedecked by the flowers. Sooner or later some flower seller will pick it up and take it to the flower market. But this bedsheet or whatever it is had bulges… female bulges at their assigned spots. So….this blanket is wrapped round on the body of a woman….or perhaps a girl…. It has a knot… a Gordian knot…. Who was Gordian..? Ideas simply crossed my mind like a whirlwind or a vortex. Gordian, King of Phrysia or Persia, who tied an intricate knot that remained tied until cut by Alexender , the Great.
How to cut it..? I am not Alexander, the Great. I am…. Who am I, by the way?… I am a lousy fellow who has no explicable reason to be here….. Yes, I have no explanations of why I am sitting here at this barren, desolate and filthy place at the dead of night. What…. If they catch me in the act of….. in the act of some agory, larcency….laundering of corpses….. or some anti-social activity like venery, arson, loot or even murder!
I cursed myself whole heartedly. But surprisingly I did not venture to slid away from the fractured slab on which I was seated. I was fully convinced that something might happen which may betray my stretch of imagination about the bungle in the jungle… Something urged me to stay put. I felt something was impelling me to reach the bedecked body….
I looked searchingly in the darkness… getting close to 2 am by now. I haltingly stretched my legs so as to get some succour of mental as well as physical fatigue. But were those my legs..?
Now, hold on…. What I stretched were not my legs…. Oh! What a tomfoolery….. Certainly they were not my legs… Those were enconsed firmly on the slab as if fevicolled therein…. Then whose legs were those which were stretching..? Is it some optical illusion ?
Surely, those legs were not mine. Unmistakably, those were the legs peeping out of the blanket covered with those blessed harshringar flowers. Legs…..legs into jeans and action shoes beneath them! But what was more surprising was that those were the legs of a woman or more precisely of a girl, fair and slimly built. There was nothing frivolous or speculative in my thinking…. A pair of sparkling payals shed away any fantasy or whims….. Just ten or twelve metres away… A girl was lying wrapped in a blanket engulfed with harshringar flowers. As she stretched her legs sheepishly, I could hear the jingling sound uttered by the payals..
A bizarre feeling crept in my mind…. Jeans clad action shoes…..payals…what a combo! What on earth was this girl doing at this hour of the night beneath this harshringar tree, wrapped in a blanket, oblivious of the pair of males’ eyes staring at her. I could hardly surpass some mumblings oozing out of my mouth…… but I had to keep cool and restrain myself. Though I was in the twilight zone of my life, my mental and physical faculties were intact…. Fit as fiddle, eyesight abnormally good for my age…. Alert and body of stainless steel, ramrod straight. I can face any eventuality but I have to be on my defensive. Anything can happen and I have to brace myself up to that.
Now this girl… her face was hidden from my glare. Was she sleeping or feigning to sleep. Was she a fugitive from law? What was she up to? Has she committed a heinous crime—– a murder or an arson or any act of terrorism. Various thoughts crossed my turbulent mind.
I was struck spell bound when I saw a rapier or hatchet sliding away from the blanket as she took a turn on her right. It was therefore evident that she was associated with a heinous crime, murder most foul, perhaps. Has she committed it or going to commit, waiting for a suitable opportunity to pounce upon her chosen victim as per some preplanned project. Or she is a member of some gangster group or smugglers party. Why this sickle, rapier or hatchet? My ideas were running at a tyconic speed unable to focus upon a certain track.
Should I approach the body and probe myself?
Oh..! What a monstrous idea?
Does she know that I am in her immediate vicinity, only, say 15 metres away. And why this misadventure with probably a killer or a terrorist or whatsoever. So far I am safe, unobtrusively so, why should I take a panga. Panga! Oh what a hilarious word! Contains so many connotations in this dynamic…word.
Only wait and watch and slid away safely from this horrendous place at the approaching dawn which is now not very far off. Some morning walkers might be patrolling to attend the call of nature at a convenient place which may not pinch their posteriors in this thorny place. This country of ours is such a safe haven for the morning call attenders or defecators—— more so with a pond or rivulet in the nearby and that explains why this land is so fertile and productive.
I wonder why Sir Vidiya Naipaul thought it so loathsome and offensive as to estrange himself and abandon this country or his origin which abounds in fecundity because of the vastness of the fortune of our excreted wealth of natural manures instead of devising a plan for its preservation, recycling, or conservation into something aromatic if not romantic. This is in sharp contrast to Sir Walter Scotts’ dogged condemnation of such a person, who has sprung from some vile dust and was best unhonoured and unsung.
Hey, but I am digressing too much away from this melee. My attention was now rivetting on a mirthful scenario over the bridge which was a scene for departure of a baraat——- a maddening medley of crooning glory with fireworks, magic and music. Melody was hell bent on keeping Sheilas’ fabulous and exotic jawani intact and in the process ignoring the badnami of Munni! Oh! sheer ecstasy…what can be more exciting…but..
But an oaf or a lout of a lanky fellow drenched himself in an ebriated condition and jumped in the crawling rivulet much to the chagrin of some impudent ones. They swore to up-the-ante and made immediate plans for resuscitating the river which was crawling and crying for help desperately. Meanwhile, the drenched man sprang up and started dancing once again with renewed vigour for his ‘sapno ki rani’ filling her pitcher on the panghat.
I was restraining my thoughts from meandering through the wallows of those hilarious acts of mirth and music when all of sudden the whole scenario changed to one of incredible and inconceivable twists and turns. So many things happened in a space of few minutes only. First, a thunderstorm followed by a blazing blinding electric shock in the distance. The storm suddenly changed into a gale and then a tempest with an awesome and violent crush of branches of the trees accompanied by incessant rains which compelled me to stand up, take stock of the situation and seek for a shelter.
Slowly, my legs moved towards that blanket covered body hoping to clutch the blanket for my own use. There was a violent resistance from inside. A pair of horror stricken eyes glowing like thousand volt bulbs and with a horrible terrifying swift movement, the body sprang up and without even allowing me to utter a cry of bewilderment and horror, slithered away and then leapt into the rivulet making a ferocious splash.
For sometime I saw with bleary, rain soaked eyes the tall lithesome body making rapid strides of breast stroke and then it vanished into thin air. I still remember vividly the blod-shot eyes when she darted her horror stricken glances holding the instrument, sickle, rapier and hatchet wrapped up in the blanket before she made the plunge, keeping a trembling finger on her whitened lips signaling me to maintain a deathly silence on her movements or whereabouts.
I could hardly compose myself and analyze the bizarre incident when a police jeep roared up, piercing the pitch black of that arid zone. The blazing blinding light flashed across my horrified visage and screeched to a halt. On seeing me running helter skelter around the thorny shrubs, the constables in the jeep jumped down and gheraoed me menacingly. They were six in numbers with ferocious looks.
“Hey, you there, who are you?” groaned the tall hefty constable.
“Me?” I meekly answered.
“Yes, you, who are you?”
“Well I am Krishna…”
“Krishna Kumar Rathod” I replied mildly
“No, but what Rathod” He was splitting fire
“Rathod, Krishna Kumar Rathod, Director … err .. Director, I am Director Telecom
“What are you doing here? Directing some film….. Ha! Ha!” He elbowed his companion and barked.
“This junkie says, he is a Director! What fun! Where are the hero, heroine, camera and all that…… I say…. Nonsense, utter bullshit! He shouted at his juniors and came forward looking menacingly at me and put his stick to my jaw and flashed a torch light “You bloody … nasty …. Soor ka bacha….!, we.. will see….” roared the head constable.
“Take him to the police station. Interrogate & search him thoroughly. Use third degree if he doesn’t come to terms and talks straight” quipped his pot-bellied companion whose height and breadth were in ratio of 4:5.
He directed the junior constable who was uni-dimensional and as lanky as Ishant Sharma, the Test Cricketer, or Osama Bin Laden’ I felt a cold chill down my spine but had no option but to huddle myself on the rear of the police jeep and was surrounded by fierce looking pack of hounds dressed as constables. I tried to explain the situation but it did not wash, instead I was threatened to face dire consequences if I ventured to hoodwink them. They fell short of gagging me as I mellowed down to comply with their curt instructions. My dwindling age and submissive body language prevented earning any more wrath from them. However, they very generously used expletives and all the filthy vituperative expressions in their lexicon but refrained from suiting action to words.
They escorted me to Ujjain Police Station in the wee hours of the morning. On my persistence, the incharge of the Police Station allowed me to use the telephone wherein I contacted Shahdaab who in turn made frantic efforts to locate the Superintendent of Police who gave instructions to release me and escort me to Telecom Headquarters. Curiously thronged not over me but shifted to the rapidly occurring incidents and to the absconding person who jumped into that pond or rivulet with those bloody instruments. The SP ordered combing the area and nabbing all persons who were attending the call of nature at that time.
Next morning, the gory details were there in the papers with screaming headlines ‘Aftab Alam Castrated and nearly killed’ followed by Sub-headlines – Aftab Alam, the dreaded rapist and gangster was befuddled, castrated and nearly killed by a dare-devil teen aged college girl who escaped and is now absconding from her college. Police are hot on her trail and investigating. One fellow, Krishna Rathor, 59, has been nabbed in the wee-hours of today morning and reprimanded by the Inspector In Charge of the investigating team. No arrests have so far been made.
Then followed the gruesome story. Aftab Alam, 37, is the spoilt brat of the local MLA. Mukhtiar Alam and a big Zamindar sho holds sway over the villages. He has been raking-in huge wealth and chunks of lands of poor hapless villagers who are held as bonded labours for they could not pay back the loans they had taken from this Shylock of Mukhtiar Alam. Aftab is hundred steps ahead of his father. He is a scoundrel, a rougue of first waters and a petulant parvenue.
He is a libidinous, lumpet, always on the prowl for raping and molesting the village belles at will and then to ward off the clutches of law, he adopted every method of destroying all evidences-disposing their bodies, drowning them deep down into self constructed ponds, throwing them to tigers and leopards of the jungle or consigning their bodies to flames. He had a large contingent of goons and musclemen who were entrusted with the task of lifting the beautiful young virgins for venery employment of their master Aftab. His barbaric opulence had devoured and defaced the virginity of hundreds of girls from the local area, and now accessed the schools and colleges.
Police force had been miserably ineffective to protect the hapless victims because of politicians and lack of evidence. Whosoever ventured to tender evidence against this monster, was murdered or brutally assaulted before he could depose in the Court of Law. He was a terror, an anarchy king, his very name spelt a doom and untold miseries to anyone who dared to revolt against his heinous crimes. He was the very epitome of terror and despotism, a lascivious leering beast of a man with repulsive looks, blood shot eyes and monstrous moustaches always spitting venom and carrying a personal vendetta against each and every body who was, plumb, honest and virtuous. For him a girl or young woman was only an object of satisfying his lust and having satisfied him was to be doomed to decay so as not to be enjoyed by anybody else.
Last year on the banks of the river, fragments of the charred body of a young budding girl Namrata were found hanging from a tree telling the story of a gruesome murder after rape. She was a student of first year of S.D College of Ujjain, very bright, upstart, of a tender age, still in her teens and stunningly enticing. Jwala was her classmate. They were bosom pals and were cynosure of the whole college. The murder of her colleague came as a bolt from the blue. She knew who was behind the carnage. Stung by this brutal murder, she vowed to take rvenge and retribution on the perpetrator of this heinous crime. The entire college was aware of these gory incidences but no one had the gumption and resources to lock horns with these goons lead by Aftab.
The police, as usual, made routine investigations, but all turned out to be a white wash. This earned the ire and resentment of public at large. The hapless parents of the girl fell back to the quirks of destiny and licked their wounds silently and despairingly in obscure corners. One could only weep at their piteous conditions. But Jwala was not to digest this humiliation lying low. She mustered courage by each passing day, schemed and trained herself calculatedly to take up the uphill task of revenge, come what may. Possessed by the mental and physical posse, she cultivated the iron determination to make rapid inroads to the police force also and entering Aftab Alams’ den so that when the suitable opportunity comes, she would grab it by both arms to achieve her ultimate objective.
The opportunity did come. One of the agents of Aftab marauding in the college campus, approached her and enticed her to walk in the parlour of Aftab Alam by offering her a hefty sum and jewelry of her choice to have fun and frolic with the master in his palatial mansion for a night on an appointed date suiting her convenience. She knew what she had to do. She feigned invitation to the allurement offered but vaccilated, then accepted when the offered sum was raised to her liking. A suitable date was to be selected soon by her after some discreet consultation with her latent pal.
At the appointed day and hour, she entered the palatial mansion escorted by the agent. Aftab was furious. He was fuming and fretting at the delay of his prey and fulminated with his choicest filthy expletives on the agents. Fully inebriated he dismissed his agents whispering some instructions in his code words which they followed faithfully, bowed their heads and left the heavily decorated and perfumed bedroom hurriedly.
Jwala meekly submitted to the desire of the honcho by the way of foreplay during which she pumped in an entire bottle of whisky down his throat, pampering his whims and fancies and enticing him all the way to the bedroom where he stripped himself naked and staggered to the bed, full as a goog. Little did he know what was to come next second because next second his eyes were burning with red chilli powder which she flung in the eyes of the rancid bastard. As he fidgeted with his eyes, a sharp sickle zapped a mighty blow and cut off his erect phallus from the roots and before he could raise any alarm, the offending azygous was first dissected into small pieces ruthlessly and then gorged into his mouth to stop his yelling. Having gagged him with his own filthy organs, she wrapped his listless body with strong cord with the bed. She spat on him, kicked him in his face delivering punches and all the hammerings she had in her armoury. A slow low whistling halted her blows and then without loosing a second, she flung open the French windows of the room, and flew off within seconds in her tattered, jingling payals and blood stained action shoes. There she clenched her fists pounding the air in utter exultation.
She darted full steam through the fields and marshy pits and then to the banks of the river where she apprehended that she was being tailed and so floundered a bit before finding shelter near the harshringar tree. That someone, a strapping six-footer, reticent and unassuming hunk was following her through all the upheavals and through the corner of his eyes was darting glances which created an impression of déjà vu. So swift and efficient was the entire operation that nobody could even conjecture in his wildest imagination that dreaded rapist Aftab could be brought to his doom.
To go further from here will be repetitious and as as repetition loses the charm of a narration, I shall be brief (brevity is the soul of wit) and shall not endeavour to go threadbare but lay down the base essentials.
As expected, there was lot of commotion, furore, horror, disbeliefs and resentment at the scene of crime, hectic arrests were made by the police. These agents of Aftab were tortured and were made ro vomit the truth. Mukhtar Alam threatened to put the police station to blazing fire but could not save his beleaguered, castrated son from police ire. There were rejoicings, beating of drums and dancing to lilting, raucous music on the streets while Mukhtars’ goons tried to unleash a reign of terror, arson and murder. The police force were adequately prepared to quell the rioteers’ hoodwinking smear campaign and torturing techniques.
Public at large heaved a sign of relief and praised high sky the act of dare devilry of a teenaged girl in getting the swine of Aftab alam castrated who was hell bent on molesting all the innocent virgin girls to satiate his lust. Mukhtiar tried his utmost in establishing a nexus between the police and the college administration but the public support was so massive and immensely genuine that Mukhtiar had to eat a humble pie. He had to suffer the slings and arrows of fury, humiliation and hatred of the worst kind. The media also helped the police force in bringing the culprits to book.
On the third day of the outcry, Jwala surrendered to the Senior Police Officer of Ujjain and made a clean breast of everything. She frankly and unflinchingly admitted what she had committed and held her head high throughout. She also handed over he instruments of castration she used much to the bewilderment of the police. A case was registered which was duly recognized by the Court of Law. Her parents were amazed at their daughters’ dare devilry and heinous act committed by her without any intimation to them.
Without any procrastination, Shashank Rathore, the Senior Inspector of Police briefed the Public Presecutor about the case and assisted her parents to engage the best advocate and a bettery of junior advocates to defend her case. They made heavy dents in Aftab’s defence. No need to go through all the rigmarole of the court proceedings which our judiciary takes in inordinate and inexplicable delays. Her advocate made a foolproof and caste iron defence which could not be penetrated throughout by the onslaughts flung by Aftabs’ councilors. Her advocates’ main plan was that of self defence. He argued that every girl has the undeliable right to protect her modesty and any effort to molest or outrage her modesty has to be constigated publicly and severely punished by law. Whatever her client did was to defend herself from molestation and save her virginity so precious to a girl. He ensured no chinks in her defense armoury.
Her grit, youth and exuberance won the day for her. The judge gave the verdict in her favour and indicted Mukhtiar Alam and his protégée Aftab Alam to rigorous imprisonment.
The public in the court which was jam-packed, applauded the court’s verdict with a standing ovation. Some energetic and enthusiastic students of her college placed her on their shoulders much to the chagrin and annoyance of her detractors and goons of her adversary. Mukhtiars musclemen jostled,elbowed and heckled the press people, snatched their cameras, smashed the lenses and created chaos. But they could not muzzle the media as Shashank Rathore directed his ire on them and a strong contingent of police force threw them out of gear.
The media gathered round Jwala and fired a barrage of queries on behest of public at large, special correspondents of leading dailies and journals fired pointed questions.
‘How did you walk into his parlour, like a worm in the spiders’ web?
‘I was lured, enticed and coerced by his agents”, replied Jwala.
‘So you were lured into submission or money was the sole consideration?’
‘No I was threatened to face dire consequences, decimating my entire family, as in the case of Namrata who was burnt alive for not accepting their offer. You must be knowing that, public memory is not that short?’
‘Yes, Jwala we do remember that ill-fated and wretched incident, but why didn’t you inform the police.’
‘I did inform the police, a case was also registered’
‘But police, as usual, didn’t take any action because of involvement of such a powerful monster?’
‘No, it is not true.’
‘What action was taken by them?’
‘That’s a bit difficult to explain at this moment but they were on the job and stuck to it dutifully.’
‘Come on Jwala, you could have not ventured upon such a hazardous project on your own without the help of someone having a stronghold in the police’
‘That’s true’ quipped Jwala unwaveringly.
‘Who helped you or advised you or chalked out this horrendous task?’
‘You are….. er…… you will soon get it….’ She wavered a bit.
‘Oh! We will come to know but we want to hear it from the horses’ mouth.’
She kept quite, a wry smile sat on her lips…
‘Do tell us… Jwala…’
‘Well you see, I am not a horse….’, she smiled.
A guffa of laughter burst open in the melee. The air was surcharged with wild gaiety.
“That’s true, Jwala…. But we meant it idiomatically what was the source of inspiration – Some incident you experienced or gone through somewhere …… “ ? Persisted a senior correspondent, with an aquiline nose.
“Yes……. You know a novel written by Jeffry Archer contains that element-you rape and I chop ……. That sort of nostalgia Also in a reply to a query by a reader of Film fare, Shatrughan Sinha unflinchingly replied “Just Cut it” – That reply impelled me to suite action to words “She replied haltingly but with Conviction.
“You must have received very solid support from some latent talent or patent force?” Shot another senior Correspondent.
“Oh! Now… as I said you will come to know .Okay…Senior Inspector Shashank Rathod was the latent talent, as you call…. “She snapped
One could see her face blushing and rapidly changing colours from White to Pink and then to crimson as Shashank Rathore sprang from nowhere and escorted her away from the media glare.
The crowd was whispering anxiously
Oh! That is very interesting, Very Very Interesting indeed …… funny, Love Birds ….. See what miracles love can perform. It’s not that bizarre after all. These blessed souls ……. But what a risky business! It went on and on ……
Time rolled on. Two years elapsed.
Beneath this big banyan tree, once again after two years at the fag end of October, my feet propelled me to sit on a rickety slab structure on a rocky chabutra. It was 9 PM. There was chill in the air and not conducive for misadventuring or vagrating in this desolate barren place.
But somehow or the other I had an inkling that something is going to happen again. I had not forgotten that nightmarish experience on that fateful night.
I set my sight on the environment once again. Everything was as had been two years ago but for some additional undergrowth of thorny bushes. The rivulet at the pond was there, the overbridge was there, the big banyan tree was there with some more sprawling branches and more owls and fowls found their habitats. Beyond that pond, the mound was there and the harshringar tree was there. The flowers with white petals and orange shoots were there dripping on … and, but hold on. There was a dark ensemble of blanket combo huddling a couple there instead of a single person.
The female component of that combo shivered a little, then raised her tall slim frame in a pull over and tight tattered jeans, jingling payals and action shoes. Steadily she made rhythmic strides on her swinging hips and silently sat beside me. A sense of déjà vu prevailed……
‘Oh! Yes….. she was Jwala, that lanky dare-devil girl …. Her sprightly visage with deep jet black hair dangling on her shoulders.
‘Oh! Jwala.. you …… here….. I mean ….. at this hour ….. of all the persons.. you and this solitude..’
‘No solitude, Sir !’ she quipped
‘Someone else is there … is it”?
‘Who is he?’
‘You know him, Sir !’
‘You know that I know..?
‘Yes Sir !’
‘The pertinent point is that you know him intimately, do you?’
‘Sir, that’s true, very true’. She was getting closer to me.
‘You like him?’ I asked
‘Oh ! Yes Sir!’
‘You love him?’ I persisted
‘Yes, Sir’ She was blushing
‘How much do you love him?’
‘As much as you love your daughter-in-law’ Her cheeks went pink
‘Oh ! my What ? … say it again, my child … so far I don’t have that pleasure’
‘Yes, papa, your, .. your daughter-in-law…
Oh! What an absolute muck have I been throughout !
The male component, a reticent, unassuming, strapping six-footer, handsome hunk hovering head over heels in love with her, so evident, slowly came forward with his head slinking and sat beside me and stammered … yes … Papa..
‘Oh! So it is like that! Since when ….?
“Since our college days … He is two years my senior’ intervened Jwala’ He was the latent but very patent force in our project of decimating the anarchy in the town’
“How come, you two are here at this hour …?
‘We thought that you will be here on the last day of your sojourn, you are retiring tomorrow, Sir!’
‘Oh! You know everything. Your parents …..?
“They also know. They are coming to-morrow to present a gift on your retirement.’
‘What better gift to have than a pretty dare-devil daughter-in-law or’bahu’ on my retirement. You will sprinkle zest and sparkle in the dreary twilight years of my life?
I smooched both of them, kissing them all over and clenched my fist in great exultation. My chest swelled with pride and felt like playing the second innings. I walked along with them with a spring in my stride. I said, Shashank … your mummy … err does she know?
He cringed a bit.
‘Oh papa … we will mollycoddle her, if need be.
‘Arre …. This catastrophe … you know … she may raise a hell. It was talk of the town on those days. All the leading papers carried the news … those screaming headlines.’
‘We shall treat her with custard and toffee, not Catastrophe … she is my mummy … she will feel proud.’ Shashank said with enthusiasm.
‘Don’t you worry, Papa … If you leave me alone … I shall never remain happy … in my life ‘ Jwala lamented.
‘Oh, no, my child. You have to be happy always. You are my ‘bahu’. I shall see to that.’
Behind his façade of boisterous exterior, his soul stirred up menacingly – this heinous crime and their perpetrators have to be crushed, stoned to death, given an exemplary punishment or hanged for their misogyny and the existing laws must be made most stringent. The public anger, has roused the entire Country and the government can’t be allowed to remain aloof or indifferent to the widespread ire & must wake before it is too late.