And He Died
And He Died4 mins 261 4 mins 261
I walked hurriedly towards the hospital, a feeling of guilt overwhelmed me. I had escaped the prison life, to my freedom, but in my zeal, I had completely missed my father's future. I was his only hope, he had turned old and frail, he had lived a miserable life. Such was the extent of gloom that running away, leaving behind his wife and son, was the only plausible option in front of him. Running away from responsibilities is a cowardly act and hits very hard to the ego, he must have fought the turmoil on his own. After fighting a lonely battle and tasting the dust of defeat he had returned to reconcile. It was after great perseverance and persuasion that he finally found me, he was happy to see me despite being behind the bars.
The news of my mother's death must have torn him apart but he never expressed his distress. All he wanted was to see me happy, he was helpless and weak but his eyes shrieked that he wanted to protect his son. I had not been very kind to him, I was in angst, I held him responsible for my miseries but it was not he, it was the circumstances and the fate of being born in a poor family. His thoughts crossed my mind often, I missed him, and wanting to meet him must have been the reason, the only reason, for coming back to Kolkata, the city which treated me like a stray animal. Staying away from the city was safest but I knew it was my last chance to amend the relationship with my father and it was possible only in this city.
The tea shop owner, Malik, he was known to my father for many years and I guess they must have been in touch. It was surprising that Malik recognized me but that was not the point to ponder at this point in time. I felt indebted that Malik shared the news of my father.
I entered the enormous gate of the hospital gate, I wanted to be as discreet as possible, I was a wanted fugitive after all. The hospital premises buzzed with people in distress and their attendants if one needs to witness gloom, just walk into any government hospital. Enquiring from the office staff was risky, it could raise suspicion and who knows there could be some trap, least, deputing a policeman to keep an eye on visitors of my father could not be ruled out. I walked through the wards, no one really bothers in a government hospital about such movements. It was a huge hospital with beds running in several hundred, I stole quick glance of the patients occupying the beds. For patients with covered face, I read the doctor's chart hung on the side of the bed.
I scanned the entire hospital but I didn't find him. "Morgue " echoed in my head. I wasn't prepared for yet another death, the same way. I had lost my mother in the same hospital, how then just a kid, I ran all around the hospital on not finding her in the allotted bed, only to find her motionless in the morgue. A feeling of relief and happiness had crossed my heart on sighting her but her lifeless body had shattered me. I didn't know what death was and it had never occurred that I would ever lose the only person who nurtured me. Now, after these many years, I was again not prepared to face a similar fate. I covered my face, sat on my haunches and wept.
Even before I could have recovered from the sad and heart-wrenching thoughts I heard a sharp shout.
"Sita, run away, run away..."
It was Rakesh's cry. I crawled to the side of the nearest door and saw with horror what unfolded in front of my eyes. Rakesh was being chased by a battery of policemen. He was running helter-skelter and the police behind him. He ran through the crowd of people so that the commotion could distract the chasers. Suddenly there was a gunshot, it was shot skyward, the collected cry of the birds as they took flight filled the atmosphere ominously. People around froze, the otherwise human buzz turned silent.
"Stop or we will shoot" shouted a policeman. Rakesh just continued running. The crowd moved away giving a clear view, no distraction in between. The next lane was just a few meters away if Rakesh could make it he would be safe. He darted towards the lane but a bullet pierced through him, he turned back and waved. The atmosphere got filled with his shrill shout "run away". I hid behind the crowd and watched the entire episode. I felt numb in my heart.
Curious onlookers started assembling around him, I could steal a quick glance, he lay in a pool of blood, lifeless.