Those were the brightest days of the year. So bright that even the poor souls condemned with eternal suffering and desolation could find solace and peace of mind. The bright rays from the morning sun coming from the window hit Robin on his face, woke him up and though he had no particular reason he felt himself filled with new optimism. But that was only momentary. Soon aware of his insignificant existence, mechanistic daily life and indifference of the people he started his day in the same manner which he had been doing for the numbers of years he himself had lost the count.
His life lacked any amusement. He had forgotten the time when he last felt surprised by anything or felt any zeal to do anything which would break his circle of everyday activity. It was like a clockwork. He was so precise in his movements and timing sometimes he didn’t even have to think what he was doing or how is doing what he was doing. He hardly looked at his watch but he was always on time. His mind and body so accustomed to the precise movements that if didn’t do what he was supposed to do at that time of day his internal organs would revolt against him.
His regular life had fixed routine which included waking up at the same time when the first sun rays hit his face, making breakfast, doing the morning rituals, going to office, going to the same canteen, ordering the black tea with minimum sugar, entering the same grocery shop and buying almost the same things for his daily life. He made sure that there was not a single thing out of his routine and he perhaps he lived the most calculated life in the whole country.
He read magazines and books in his free time before going to bed. He would read anything from a home decoration to space exploration magazine. But he didn’t do to achieve great things. He read for the sake of reading. After all reading was his profession. He proofread for the local newspaper, correcting sentences and grammars and putting in the exact word in the exact place. He was a genius at this. He could always think of the exact word which would describe situation without redundancy. The others consulted him when they were out of words. May be that’s why or may because he seldom talked he used such sentences and words in his conversation that most of his talks were incomprehensible to others. People didn’t talk like him in those part of the country or elsewhere. It is extensive reading of the numerous novels and isolation from the society which made him indifferent to the style in which people talked to him and reciprocated in the same way. It is like the society forget him to grip him in its clutch and he also didn’t care for it.
But all that was about to change on the bright summer day. The grey patch visible in his front hairline indicated that though he has achieved artificial mastery above his daily life, time was cruel to everyone equally. It was an insinuation to the proceedings of the day which would pull him out his eternal oblivion. The political situations of the town was the least appealing thing to him. But while he was taking his usual route through the main street of the town it was full people shouting slogans with an indignation which was common to the youth of that time.
He looked at this with consternation. It was difficult to go through the usual route. Which was the second odd happening in the morning with more to follow. The society always had something to protest for . Be it policies of the ruling party,the new labor policies or setting up a new plant ,some portion of the society always found it against their interest. So a never ending cycle of protest was formed with twisted interested leaders at the center. Through his extensive story Robin knew that it was all in vain. The youth always cool down with the passage of age and each revolution has installed a ruler which was more cruel and corrupt than the former. But that day it was different.
Occupying the main street for any reason other than government processions and convoys was highly illegal. The road was the life line of the city. Occupying it was a direct blow to economic activities. That’s why the local administration trying to negotiate with the mob to open the street. But they were adamant. They demanded the local representative of the government to be present there. But it was not possible as he was in the capital. The local authority said that the rally was in practical as they didn’t have the authority to grant their demands. They should go to the capital. But the protestors demanded the presence of the local representative so that he could convey their demands. Each party was deaf the other’s appeals. As such a standoff was formed which was at a risk of turning violent with the passage of time and soaring of the thermometer.
As he sat in his quite corner of his office trying to focus in his work his surroundings began to heat up. The office which usually full of hustle and bustle was turning into a hot mess with people running all over the place, reports of the new unfolding coming and people shouting to each other with higher voices so their words could be heard. The unprecedented and unfortunate incident happened right after the lunch break. No one was sure how it started. People till this day claim that it was a preplanned step of the government.
On the official report it was said that the protesters were the first to throw handmade bombs to the peacekeeping police force. Some others said that the people who threw and bombs and made all the breaking off the shops were never really part of their peaceful procession. They arrived in a car without a number plate and soon started thrashing the peaceful establishments. The result was the police had to open fire on the civilians and civilians too resorted with stones. But it no match for the automated weapons. After a number of protestor fell to the ground they started to flee. It was accused of the police that they shot the half dead laying on road at point blank in cold blood. They specially targeted to maximize the casualty to teach a lesson to the wretched town. It was soon announced a red alert and police was given the authority to shoot at their will.
Shocked and angered at the events the he decided leave his work early for the first in many years. He was overwhelmed by so many unprecedented events that he was not able to regain his mental peace and thus not able to concentrate in his work. He missed errors, searched uselessly for the perfect word which in other times he could have done in a whiff of a moment. He took a rest for his works and never had the mind to start again. His boss startled at the unusual request of leaving early from him just gave him a fair warning that the situation is not suitable for going out. But he insisted that after all he is a dignified person of a respectable age. No one would make the stupid mistake of identifying him as a protester out of his mind due to youthful his rage. There was such simplicity and at the same time determination in his tone that the boss just had to let him go.
The main road was deserted in the middle of the day. The street was an absolute mess. Though the bodies have been removed the stains form the blood still was there. Nobody cared to through a bucket of water to the puddles of respect towards the dead. The shops which had been looted earlier still had their shutters open when the shopkeepers had to flee to save their lives. He could no longer take the utter undisciplined street. He was sure of himself that the town was bound to destroy itself upon some ideas of utopia nobody really could understand anymore. He left the main street. And entered the small lanes which served as alternate routes during busy traffic hours. Though the main road was flashy and speak of a development story that the people no longer thought to be theirs, the lanes reeked with poverty.
The deserted old buildings of the long lost businesses, the broken roads gave the lanes an eerie look at normal days. The tragedy of the day intensified the sadness and broken hopes that lurked in those lanes. The town was dying.
Just as about he was taking a turn he heard a cry which would have make dead shiver in the peaceful sleep of the afterlife. Following the source he entered an abandoned building that once belonged to a rich exporter of local clothes. Now all was left of the forgotten times of glory were was the old weak walls and broken floor. There they were. A group of peacekeepers forming a circle. In middle lied a naked body of a girl who must have been still in her teens. They were savages blinded by the absolute power entrusted upon them for the day. The girl was alive though the look on her eyes would chill any soul in which at least a bit of humanity was still left. The horrifying sight make him sweat uncontrollably. He asked in a voice so loud that it could have broken the thin walls “what are you doing?, don’t you have a little bit of shame left in you?”
The peacekeepers which till then noticed his presence looked back. They saw him at first with consternation. Then they got their senses and laughed like the madmen they were. As if he was not even there.
He repeated this time without any conviction “let the poor girl go” though he himself didn’t know if the girl will recover from what she has gone through.
There was no reaction.
Suddenly from the depths of his vocabulary he dug up words which he was not sure till then he would have to use someday “you motherf**kers, just trade your sisters in cheap whorehouse if you don’t have anything else to do. But let that poor girl go”
The result was something he himself had not anticipated. They stopped in the middle and the person who seemed like their leader came running towards him, gave him punch in his face and stomach that made him crawl on the floor. The leader pull him up by his hair and said “hope you have got your lesson old man. Now go to your house. There has been enough killing today”
He got up struggling. Ashamed and frustrated at the insult and inability to do anything he took steps back. Soon he was on the same deserted land panting with rage and frustration. His brain had stopped working. As if the years of indifference had made him unable to protest things and take a stand for himself. He felt a blind rage building inside himself. He was mad with himself. He was dissatisfied with himself so much that it never mattered to him if he lived or died anymore. It was the rage which was accumulated within himself due to years of injustice and hopelessness.
Then for the first time in his life he realized that he was not oblivious to his surroundings but he was so much troubled by them that his brain has built own mechanism to shut himself from the reality so that his heart could still keep beating. He knew what to do.
He quietly entered the building, went directly to the leader and jumped on him from behind. The devils could not believe what they were seeing. They never anticipated an old man having such courage. Two of them took him by their hands while he tried to free himself shouting the worst of his vocabulary cursing their whole bloodline. The leader enraged by the foolish courage of the old man took out his revolver and before anyone else could stop emptied it on the man who was no longer afraid. Mr Robin Baruah was still shouting when the bullets shattered his ribcage and put an end to the most calculated life in the whole country.
Years later people still could not find out how he was involved with the protests against the Government. May be he was one mastermind hiding behind the cloak of normal life, hiding in plain sight, that’s what they said.