Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
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Heat - The Explosion

Heat - The Explosion

51 mins 15.6K 51 mins 15.6K

Part 4 – The Chimera

Gurdip Singh Bazwa was admired as a successful, renowned businessman of Rawalpindi in those

days. His garment shop 'Bazwa cloth store' was very famous throughout Rawalpindi for its

product quality and fair, fixed price and his confidence over his product and his behavior was

such that people used to say -If you go to his shop, it is impossible that you come outside

without any purchasing.

He had two sons Satvinder and Ritinder who also worked with full dedication in their father‘s business. Younger Ritinder even advised him to start a restaurant so that the profit earned by garment shop could be invested further in another venture thus in expanding the business. Gurdip followed his son‘s advise and started a restaurant under Ritinder‘s supervision and named it -Bazwa ke Chhole-Bhathure, while he handed the garment shop to elder son Satvinder. Both the ventures were soon earning more profit than earlier because of the hard work of both of his sons. Later, he married off both his sons happily to His Lahore-based friend Mr. Gill‘s daughters Nimmi and Simmi.

1942 had arrived by then. Gandhiji declared ―'Quit India', while Jinnah Sahab interpreted it as

―Divide and Quit India. The lines of hatred had been drawn. Hindus and Sikhs were on one side

of the line while Muslims were on the other side. The atmosphere of Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi was changing rapidly as it was happening in Dhaka, Calcutta, Karnal, Delhi, Amritsar too. Till now Bazwa sahib never gave a thought about safety and security of his family and properties but now he was a worried man. At somewhere inside his heart, he was hoping that everything will be alright at the end but the situation was going out of control gradually. Some news of skirmish between communities were normal now. Sometimes people heard some major news about loss of life and properties. Sometimes people heard about a dead, mutilated body of a cow in nearby temple, and a mutilated, dead body of a pig in a mosque. The time was passing by, overall.

Then after some years, The Cabinet Mission arrived. The great leaders of this country who had exceptional education, degrees and intellectualities from prestigious Universities of Europe met repeatedly for solving the simple problems of very simple people living in villages and cities of India. But they could not find a solution. After departure of Cabinet Mission, the elections were held and Constitutional assembly was formed.

Unfortunately communal riots in Bengal and Punjab provinces erupted at that very juncture. The

small, beautiful world of Bazwa sahib started to collapse in these riots, where merely two years

back, the wedding bells were ringing. His shops were prominent shops, they were not such that

could be hidden under a large cloth. Then, there are always some hidden enemies of every

successful person. Communal riots erupted in Rawalpindi and his shops were at forefront. Both

shops were closed on that day when rioters broke the shutters, vandalized them completely and

set them afire. Bazwa sahib had assessed the situation earlier and so 3 days back, he brought

healthy amount of cash, jewelries, and huge cache of garments one night from the garment shop

to the home.

That night ,Bazwas called their sons and daughter-in-laws and told them ―"Puttar ji, what we are

going to tell you, just listen carefully and follow it. Please don‘t argue on it. You know well

what is going on. If all this would be streamlined again then it‘s a different thing otherwise if it

continues as we are seeing, they have already demolished our businesses and now they will

target our house and families. Look, we have lived our life fully and have enjoyed all the

happiness for which a person strives in his or her life. We have become aged people but you

are quite young, newly married. You don‘t have even children, what have you seen?

Listen, in case of attack over house and family we have brought a huge cache of garments,

cash and jewelries from our shop and kept them in the wooden trunk. You have only to make the

parcels and to go to India with those parcels so that you may start a new life there with minimal

struggle. Pindi is being ruined Puttar ji. Nothing is left here now." And elder couple started

sobbing. Tears rolled down their old, red and wrinkled cheeks and they were wiping tears from

each other‘s eyes.

Watching this, Satvinder started crying inconsolably, sat at their feet and said, "How and where we will go without you, Bhapa ji?"

Ritinder was weeping and said, "Come what may Bhapa ji, we will not leave you. If we will have to die then we will die with you Bhapa ji."

Couple consoled their children, "Don‘t be stubborn like this. Those sons are called worthy sons who enhance the prestige of their parents and families and for this, they will have to live. Don't talk about your death."

They took all four to the huge wooden trunk and said, "Open the trunk." But nobody moved. Then despite weeping, they themselves opened the trunk and said to the children, "Now divide it into two and make some small parcels out of the stuff."

But all four were silent like pieces of wood. Then the old couple themselves started. Looking at this, all four bursted into tears and prevented the older couple and started to make parcels themselves. On that night, everyone was just crying, nobody had dinner. Bazwa sahib found out two old swords and three old guns which he repaired at that night for further usage.

Next morning, the family had an early breakfast because of two reasons, one was that nobody had

dinner last night and other was the thinking that if some unfortunate happens then it would be

very important to have full stomach to fight. It was around 7:30 in the morning when the family

heard huge blow at the door. Bazwa sahib went with his sword and opened it. His friend Darshan

Singh ji was there with his son Kirpal and both were severely injured and bleeding profusely.

Dayal singh and Kirpal lost their balance and fell down.

They were crying, "Just leave the place. They are coming here. You just go." And their dead bodies were in Bazwa sahib‘s lap at the very next moment.

Bazwa sahib closed their eyes and said to the children, "Just leave. Leave immediately."

Ritinder and Satvinder were weeping and said, "Bhapa ji, you too leave the place with us. We will not go leaving you behind."

Bazawa sahib shouted, "Have you lost it? Just go and don't argue. We are older people and we can't run as fast as you can. Because of us, you will put your life at risk. You just go, I will stop them here. Just leave from the back door exit."

The four children though unwillingly exited from the back door with their parcels.

Somehow they managed to reach Delhi. They got a place to stay at Shahdara refugee camp. Both

the brothers sold garments for many days and made some money. Then they started again a food

trolly on nearby street and named it ―'Bazwa ke chhole-bhathure'. Within few days, they were

doing fine because of their product‘s quality, hygienic food and of course their behavior and past

experience at Pindi. After some time, they purchased a small room on monthly rental and shifted

their food- business there. Meanwhile, Ritinder became father of a boy Manjit and Satvinder had

his child Deep within two years of partition. Deep and Manjit inherited decent behavior and art

of public dealing from their parents and started also working hard for their food-shop. After few

months Ritinder and Satvinder purchased another small room on rental and Satvinder re-started

their own ―'Bazwa cloth store' again.

Emergency was promulgated in 1975, and by then this petty shop 'Bazwa ke chhole-bhathure' had been transformed into a famous restaurant and its taste had reached too many nook and corners of Delhi and 'Bazwa cloth store' had become a very posh and famous garment shop. Emergency was removed in 1977 and then Satvinder and Ritinder married off their sons. Deep‘s wife Suman belonged to a Sikh Army family of Hisar and Manjit's wife Surjit was daughter of a Sikh business family of Chandni chowk. Now this family was very happy and Deep had 2 years old son Pritam and Manjit‘s one year old daughter Shalini were the two gems of the family who made every day in the house so much joyous and energetic.

Both Satvinder and Ritinder had worked very hard for 30 years for their family and they were

now living in a pretty decent house in Gopalnagar area near Shahdara. 30 years back when they

came to this land as a result of partition and massacre in Rawalpindi with their wives Nimmi and

Simmi, they were 25-something. Now they were pushing 60 happily. But even today, there was

only one kitchen in the house and whole family always had breakfast and dinner together.

But the politics of India was taking a different course at that juncture. Janata government had

been defeated in the elections in 1980 and Mrs. Gandhi had again resumed the charge of Prime

minister. Now troublesome news and views were coming from Punjab. Jarnail singh

Bhindrawale who was an average office-bearer of Damdami taksal of Amritsar, his stature as the

leader of Sikhs was getting bigger with each passing day. This was not just because of him but

he was actually a pawn in Congress party‘s strategy of weakening Akali Dal, their strong

political rival in Punjab. All this political mess had become very dangerous. Bhindrawale's

demands were becoming harder and harder. He had been arrested earlier in 1981 in Lala Jagat

Narayan murder case. Then he organized- 'Dharam yuddh morcha' in 1982 in which lakhs of the

people and supporters took part. Then in 1983, Punjab Police‘s D.I.G. Awtar Singh Atwal was

assassinated in broad day-light in front of Golden temple and his dead body had been left there

untouched, unattended for more than 2 hrs. on Darbar Sahib‘s stairs. Even police personnel

refused to attend it. These incidents were clear evidence of Bhindrawale‘s grip over Sikh

community and politics. Finally, it happened which was feared the most.

In June, 1984, Govt. of India ordered Indian Army to enter into Golden Temple premises and to eliminate Bhindrawale and all his supporters, till the last man. It was called 'Operation Blue Star'. Such use of armed forces in the history of the country was unseen and unheard of by then.

This action was widely criticized and severely condemned all over the globe by Sikhs. It was

after all their holiest shrine, as The Vetican for the Catholics, and the most unfortunate fallout of

this incident was the assassination of the Prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi by her Sikh

bodyguards in Oct. 1984.

Ramcharan was now remembering that horrible time on his hospital‘s bed. He was SHO of

Gopalnagar Police station then. The news of Mrs. Gandhi‘s Postmortem at AIIMS and death

confirmation had spread like a wildfire on T.V. and Radio. Just at that very instant, many

armed youth were seen coming out of AIIMS. Who were these people? Where had they come

from? Nobody knew.

But they were screaming, "They have killed our mother. We will not let them live. Not a single Sardar would be there."

They did not have any fear that people were watching them wielding naked-sharp weapon openly, that people were hearing them. This kind of scene was being observed in almost every metro city of India including Bhopal, Kanpur, Almora etc. Very next day, a massacre of Sikhs was started through out which is almost unparalleled in Indian history till date, and the eyewitness of these anti-sikh riots was the city of Delhi.

Those areas were the first targets where Sikhs were in majority. Shahdara, Trilokpuri, Seema

puri etc. were such areas. Gopalnagar was also one of them, heavily populated with Sikhs and

most of the household belonged to lower income group, lower middle class, dependent upon

petty businesses and some government jobs for their living. It was a no-brainer that no area

would serve the purpose better than this area with such powerless population. Rioters were

running on the road in the broad day-light with naked, sharp weapon on one hand and voter-list,

electricity and water bills in the other hand so that the exact marking of Sikh‘s houses and

enterprises could be done for setting them afire. The gents and even male children of the houses

were being pulled out from the house, on the road and cut into pieces in front of their ladies.

Some Sikh gents were being pulled out on road just to burn them alive with the help of Kerosin.

Their women who were praying repeatedly to the rioters at their feet, "Bhaiya, leave him

please. Bhaiya leave him. What we have done bhaiya? We are in fact Congress supporters bhaiya. Leave that child, at least bhaiya, he is just one year old bhaiya. He has done nothing. He can't even speak yet. He does not know anything bhaiya. Please leave him…." But it all went in vain. Their husbands, brothers and children were being killed in front of them and they could do nothing.

Ramcharan was in Gopalnagar police station that day, enjoying T.V. with tea and salted Kajus

with his sob-ordinates which have been supplied just two days back from a local politician.

Indian cricket team was touring Pakistan then. Telephone of Police station was repeatedly

ringing and the caller was either Sikh woman or a man. Ramcharan was enjoying their trembled,

fear-ridden voices and their requests for help and very casually replying, "Yes madam, we have taken notice and we are just coming. Don‘t worry, we are coming", and then again glued to

T.V., while the humanity was being tormented and ashamed every moment on the roads of the

city in bright sunny day.

A Constable said to Ramcharan something and he became angry, "What are you saying? Are you in your proper senses? They have killed our Prime minister. Those terrorists have thrown a challenge to us. Should we leave them to go unpunished for their ghastly act? They are traitors…..they get their food, water, shelter from this land and then they killed our beloved leader. Do you remember how Mrs. Gandhi taught a lesson to Pakistan? She was nothing short of Devi Durga and those rascals killed her. Not a single Sikh should be spared, and if any of them will survive, God promise, I will kill him."

Just at this very moment, telephone on Ramcharan‘s table rang again. Caller was a lady in

frightening voice, "Hello, police station? I am from Bazwa Cloth store. My father-in-law and elder Brother-in-law are in 'Bazwa ke chhole-bhathure' and are unable to escape the mob who have encircled the restaurant. Please inspector sahib, help us out. The rioters are there and my husband can't go outside too. The telephone of the restaurant is not working also now..."

Ramcharan replied in between, "We are coming madam." and disconnected the call. After few

minutes, the telephone rang again. Caller was the same lady, "Please inspector sahib, help us

please."

Ramcharan replied rudely, "Madam, there are so many people calling at every minute. How can we reach to all of them simultaneously? We have said that we are coming to you immediately", and he put the phone down.

After 3-4 minutes, the telephone rang again.

He picked up and shouted, "We are coming madam", and the caller, DSP of that area shouted at

him, "When you will go outside with your team? What are you doing in the police station when

Delhi is burning? People are calling me instead of you and saying that Gopalnagar police station

has a ready made answer ―'We are coming', and nobody is there outside."

Ramcharan hurriedly wore his police cap and shouted at their colleagues keeping receiver in hand so that the DSP could hear too, "Come on, move fast. Start the jeep and move to 'Bazwa cloth store'. Quick!"

After two days, Ramcharan returned to his home from the hospital. Before coming back, he tried

to meet Surjit but she was sleeping then. He inquired of her health from Rup and Avinash and

left the hospital. Shalini was not there at that time. After next day, Surjit also came back from the

hospital.

Part 5 – The Heat

Surjit was having rest after dinner, but it was no rest inside. She wanted to sleep but she could

not. Today after almost 26 years, her old wounds had been opened again, which she had been

healing for a long time.

On that fateful day she called so many times at Gopalnagar and Shahdara Police stations but

every time, she received a similar response, "Madam, we are coming!" and nobody was coming to

her help. Ritinder and Deep were in restaurant when a huge mob encircled the restaurant. They

also called up Gopalnagar and Shahdara police station but to no avail. Surjit was trying to

contact the restaurant but it did not happen. Elder Satvinder had seen all this things at the time of

partition so he immediately started his scooter and went towards the garment shop for clothes

and cash just as their father did at that time. Only Manjit was at home with the ladies and two

children, 6 years old Pritam and Shalini, 5.

After many failed attempts to contact anywhere, Surjit ran towards their neighbor Mishra ji who

was a bank employee. Mishra ji and her wife heard an unusual knock at the door and opened it. It

was Surjit, frightened and trembling. Mishra ji said, "Bhabhi ji, come inside. What is the

matter?"

A weeping Surjit folded both hands and said, "Please mishra ji, my father-in- law and brother-in-law are in restaurant and the situation is grim. Police is not here too after repeated calls. Please help us. Elder father-in-law went to the garments shop. Please bring those two from the restaurant safely, I beg you, please…" Surjit was weeping inconsolably.

Mrs. Mishra immediately said, "Don‘t worry bhabhi ji, he will go with Rohan at this very moment

to bring back Deep bhai saab and Uncle ji safely."

Mr. Mishra, changing his shirt, called his son loudly, "Rohan! Immediately start the scooter and proceed towards Uncle ji‘s restaurant. Come on, fast!"

Within few seconds, Rohan started the ignition of the scooter and both father-son went towards the restaurant.

Mrs. Mishra said to Surjit, "Bhabhi ji, please leave Pritam and Shalini here, they will be safe."

But Surjit said, "No, Bhabhi ji. We have already put your family at risk. Rohan and your husband are outside for us. We will not trouble you further."

And she returned back to her home quickly.

Mishra ji and Rohan reached at the restaurant and they were shocked after seeing the situation

there. Crows and Dogs were moving there. The restaurant which was once the pride of Shahdara

had been reduced to ashes. Food items were scattered here and there. Costly chairs and tables

had been burnt. The pathetic bad smell was there. Covering their noses with hankies both father and son entered into the restaurant. Something obstructed Rohan. He screamed with fear ―"Papa!!!"

and hid himself behind his father. He did not have courage nor age to see what he saw at the moment.

Mishra ji consoled him and knelt down to see. There were two human bodies, mutilated and halfburnt. One of them was completely motionless while the other was groaning in pain. Mishra ji

saw again, that groaning person was Deep and that black dead body was of Ritinder. Mishra ji

somehow managed to keep both over his scooter with the help of Rohan and proceeded towards

the Bazwa‘s home. Deep died in the mid-way.

As Mishraji and Rohan entered their home with two dead bodies, it became chaos there. Suman

became unconscious after seeing Deep‘s body. Nimmi and Simmi started crying inconsolably.

Mishra ji and his family tried their best to console them but situation was totally beyond control.

A weeping Manjit requested to neighbor‘s family to go from there, "Please just leave from

here immediately Mishra ji. Your life may be at risk because of us. We have lost everything but you have your family. Just leave the place."

Mishra ji refused to go. Surjit pleaded with folded hands, "Please Mishra ji, you must go from here. For God's sake."

Manjit and Surjit somehow sent Mishraji and his family back to their home.

In this chaotic, surcharged atmosphere there were two children who could not understand

anything. Suddenly, the shocked family heard a knock at the door ―"Police."

Manjit opened the door. It was a police party with an inspector and some constables, entered into their home with a dead body. Manjit saw it and screamed ―"Taya ji!".

It was Satvinder‘s body and as per Police party they found him dead on the road. There were clear marks of two bullets, shot from a point blank range, over his chest. Satvinder‘s wife Nimmi was a heart-patient under treatment. She suffered a severe heart attack at the moment when she saw the dead body of her husband and his younger brother-in-law with whom she came to India 37 years back. Main door and Gate were still open.

Inspector was inquiring to Manjit when suddenly 15-20 armed youth barraged into the house shouting slogans like "Indira Gandhi amar rahe!.....Jai Bhawani!.......Dharm ki vijay

ho, adharm ka naash ho!.. ….Har Har Mahadev!...”

They did not have any fear even as they saw that blue-colored police jeep was outside of the house. Poor child Shalini was very much frightened and immediately hid herself behind her Mother Surjit. Manjit was the first person who came across the rioters and one of them beheaded him in front of his wife Surjit and daughter Shalini.

Another two people pierced their swords into older, weakened bodies of Nimmi and Simmi.

Suman, the daughter of an Army family which shed their blood in 1965 and 1971 for this country, India, was laying on the floor unconsciously and a rioter with a gun, shot her three times. One of the rioters ran towards innocent 6 years old Pritam and got him by neck, abused him and fired a single shot on his head from his pistol. Pritam‘s body got spilled away to the opposite wall and his brain got spilled away out of his head in another corner of the room. One small piece of his brain hit the face of Surjit who was sitting on the ground with tightly closed eyes and ears, and with little Shalini in her lap. She was fearing of being killed so she closed her eyes and ears. May be because of her womb size somebody felt something or they forgot that it was another person too or whatever the reason, she survived somehow with Shalini. After these killing, looting was started. All this was happening and the Police party was standing as a mute spectator. Then after some 15-20 minutes the rioters left the house with whatever stuff they could carry. Then the inspector caught Surjit by her arms who was seeing eight dead bodies of her family including her husband, in a pool of blood, and taunted ― "All have gone. House has been destroyed. Now whom will you live for?"

Surjit was sobbing. He again smiled, "Live for us a bit. Its only a matter of 15-20 minutes. There is no one in the adjacent room…..many people were here whom you were taking care of. We have come to your house, we are your guest now. Take care of us too."

The constables of Police party were laughing loudly seeing poor Surjit and her daughter. Inspector called to one of them, "Oye K.K, take care of this poor girl. I don't want thorn in a flesh."

Constable Krishna Kant acted swiftly as per the order and put a sharp knife over the throat of a weeping, frightened Shalini. Inspector forced Surjit towards the room.

Surjit requested, "Inspector sahib, please show at least some mercy. You are in police force. You have the responsibility to protect the people. What are you saying? I swear, I am a pregnant woman. Its fifth month. For God's sake, don‘t do this, I beg you."

Inspector replied with a lascivious smile, "Don‘t give me lessons of my duty and fifth

month? Is it such a big deal?"

He now caught her by her hair and forcibly took her into the room. He was slapping her vehemently in the room too. Surjit was repeatedly requesting but it all went in vein. After few minutes, sounds of crying and weeping of the woman were coming out.

Constable Krishna Kant who was moving the sharp knife over Shalini‘s neck, shamelessly smiled

and asked her, "Do you know what is going on inside? Why this sounds are coming out?"

The poor child was weeping. What answer could she give? Other constables were too enjoying this

act of their colleague.

After 15-20 minutes, the inspector came out of the room adjusting his uniform, with a dirty smile

on his face. His sob-ordinates were also laughing. Then Police party too looted the house for a

while and then they started their jeep outside and went away.

A frightened, weeping, 5 years old Shalini entered into that room in which her mother was laying

on the bed unconsciously in so much pain. Her face was swollen because of continuous slapping

by the policeman. She could speak just ―"..water….please some water.." in a very low voice.

Shalini ran towards the kitchen and immediately brought a glass of water with some biscuits. She

was told by her elders as a manner not to give only water to someone but also give something to

eat. She said to Surjit ―"Maa…water".

But Surjit could not get up. Then the child put water and biscuits aside and tried to push mother‘s head upward gently. Surjit also pushed herself and then she got up. She was immense pain. Her eyes were still closed. Little Shalini again said, "Maa…water."

Surjit opened her eyes now and ate a biscuit and had some water. Then she left the bed somehow, proceeded to the adjacent room where eight dead bodies were laying in the pool of blood. Shalini followed her. She reached near the bodies and sat on the floor, and started weeping inconsolably. Now the biggest problem was to perform last rites. Gurdwaras were at the forefront of the rioters, were severely damaged so they could not help also. Mishra ji‘s family had come inside by then. They were shocked by the horrible sight there in the room. Floor was covered with blood in eight bodies were laying there. Mrs. Mishra was weeping but she consoled Surjit, "Bhabhi ji, have some patience. Don‘t cry. Fate is like this sometimes. You have a little child and another one will be there soon. Don't lose hope. Bhabhi ji, we can't bring back these people but your children are here. Have some courage for their future, for their life Bhabhi ji." And then last rites of the family members were performed with the help of neighbors.

Surjit re-collected some remaining money and jewelries and left Gopalnagar. She went to Raja

nagar refugee camp where hundreds of Sikhs families like hers were provided shelter. They

registered themselves as refugee in their own country and then a daily struggle started for

survival, for food, water, blankets etc. It was around 7th or 8th month of her pregnancy. Women

there at the camp took care of Surjit very much in such situation and little Shalini helped her

mother in every possible way so that pregnant Surjit could have had maximum rest, but still

Surjit found out some work for herself. Rupinder was born in these tiring circumstances. 7-8

women on that day prepared 'Kheer' to celebrate the birth of this child. Gradually Surjit‘s health

was improving and after 2-and-half months, she sold some of her jewelries and started a street

food-trolly which was named—the good old- 'Bazwa ke chhole-bhathure'.

Surjit and Shalini were now working tirelessly, day and night, for their food-trolly business.

Surjit sent Shalini for 4 hrs. in the morning to a nearby make-shift school which was opened

temporarily for refugees by the government. Only after school hrs. and homework, Shalini was

allowed at food trolly. After many months, when mother-daughter duo had saved a good amount

of money, Surjit shifted to a rented one-room set in Karolbagh area from the refugee camp and

started their food trolly business there. Rupinder was growing up now and he was helping his

family too at the food-trolly. Surjit always took care of the education of her children. She always

preferred studies for them instead of the business and money. Her landlord was also a nice

person and did not trouble the family for the monthly rent.

Rupinder was a bright student in the school so he completed most of his studies through government scholarship because of his decent marks in every exam. Teachers also liked him so much. He cleared senior secondary with excellent marks and got admission in the Economics (Hons.) of Hindu college. In last 16-17 years, 'Bazwa ke chhole-bhature' had become a small, two-room restaurant. In one part, Chhole-bhthure, Rice, Samosas were prepared and in another part, some chair and tables were put. The one-room home of the family was now a three-room set. Almost around this time, Delhi Metro project had been started and co-incidentally Surjit‘s restaurant was laying under land acquisition for which the Government was offering quite a decent amount as the compensation. Surjit happily agreed to it and by that money she again started a very nice, much better than earlier restaurant. Young Rupinder named it 'Bazwa di hatti' this time and advised her mother to keep the Samosas only in evening and to start Rajma-Rice so that numbers of customers in the day-time may increase. Surjit and Shalini followed his advise and within few months the earning from restaurant was improving by each passing day.

Surjit glass-framed the certificate of land acquisition given by Delhi Metro and put it on a wall of

restaurant. Two lines were written under it ―'Delhi Metro. Aapka lakh lakh shukriya, khoob

aage badho'. Only Karolbagh Metro station‘s employee were allowed to eat there without prompt payment. Station's staff admired Surjit very much, trusted 'Bazwa di hatti' a lot and always paid promptly. They were also tension-free about hygienic and quality food at any time through out the day as long as 'Bazwa di hatti' was there. Surjit was having a very good time now. She was a successful businesswoman, her restaurant was very famous, her son was fetching excellent marks in college and she married her daughter Shalini to a Sikh business family of Chandni chowk.

Part- 6 – She

On that day, after DSP‘s warning over phone, Ramcharan immediately moved out of the police

station for patrolling with his team in a Blue jeep. He was irritated then and telling his colleagues, "This poor DSP….he can't manage the people and its us who finally pay the price, who have

to suffer by the hands of local M.P.s and Councillors. This DSP will go elsewhere after his promotion or transfer, but where will we go? We will have to face wrath of MPs and Councillors that 'you don‘t follow our order, why we entertain your requests?' I have told this to DSP sahib so many times that it is important to follow the orders of local MPs and Councillors as they will help you in postings and promotions and of course in making money too but this man has lost it completely."

Just then he saw a group of 8-10 armed youth were beating an old Sikh mercilessly. Driver stopped the jeep and Ramcharan reached on the spot. The damaged scooter of Sardar was laying nearby.

Sardar was wounded and bleeding. Ramcharan stopped the beating and asked the old man, "Sardar ji, how did these people catch you?"

Sardar ji was weeping and replied somehow in unclear voice, "Inspector sahib, I visited my shop nearby for collecting some money and garments….. I was returning when they got me. They are

shouting ―You have killed our mother and we will not let you live. Inspector sahib, we are

congressmen by birth. In fact it was Congress which provided us food and shelter after

partition but now some eccentric youths has killed her. Are we at fault? These people snatched

my clothes and money and they have beaten me brutally", and the man started weeping again.

Ramcharan consoled him and asked ―"What is your name Sardar ji?"

―"Satvinder singh Bazwa."

―"Where is your shop?"

―"Just here in Shahdara market- Bazwa cloth store."

Ramcharan said it in a bit loud voice ―"Bazwa cloth store."

―"Where do you live Sardar ji?"

―"Just here, right turn to the next red light then second cut leftwards- third house."

Ramcharan repeated it ―"Right turn to the next red light and then second cut leftwards- third

house."

Suddenly Ramcharan pushed Satvinder forward. He lost balance and fell on the ground. He was

stunned. Ramcharan came to him and knelt down. He had now his service revolver in his hands.

He said to him --"We gave you food, shelter and what you people have done? You killed our

leader! Just like this…" and he shot him twice on his chest from very close. Poor old man,

he died on the spot. Ramcharan told youths ―"Go to the shop for now. After an hour, go to the house."

With Satvinder‘s dead body, the police team reached at Bazwa‘s home where already had a

chaotic atmosphere as dead bodies of Deep and Ritinder had been already arrived. Women of the

family were crying vehemently. Ramcharan was enquiring to a male member of the family when

suddenly an armed group of 15-20 people barraged in the house. They were shouting slogans like

“…Indira Gandhi amar rahe!.....Jai Bhawani!.......Dharm ki vijay ho, adharm ka naash ho!..

….Har Har Mahadev!...”.

They killed everyone whom they saw there indiscriminately. They did not care about children or old people or young or ladies or gents etc. Just nothing. Ramcharan‘s police team was a good-for-nothing unit at that time. Somehow a five years old girl child and her mother survived. Rioters went after killings and looting. Ramcharan caught the young lady by her arms, who was seeing eight dead bodies of her family members including her husband. He taunted her ―"So it was you who was dialing at Gopalnagar police station repeatedly? Then you dialed to the DSP also? All have gone. House has been destroyed. Now whom will you live for?"

The woman was sobbing. He again smiled ―"Live for us a bit. Its only matter of 15-20 minutes. There is no one in adjacent room. Many people were there whom you were taking care of. Now we have come to your house, we are your guest now, take care of us too."

The constables of Police party were laughing loudly seeing poor woman and her daughter.

Ramcharan called to one of them ―"Oye K.K, take care of this poor girl. I don't want thorn

in a flesh."

Constable Krishna Kant acted swiftly as per the order and put a sharp knife over the throat of a weeping, frightened girl. Ramcharan forced the woman towards the room. Woman pleaded ―"Inspector sahib, please show at least some mercy. You are in police force, you have the responsibility to protect the people. What are you saying? I swear, I am a pregnant woman. Its fifth month. For God sake, don‘t do this, I beg you."

He replied with a lascivious smile ―"Don‘t give me lessons of my duty and fifth month? Is it such a big deal?"

He now caught her by her hairs and forcibly took her into the room. He was slapping her vehemently in the room too. Woman was repeatedly pleading but it all went in vain. The monster threw her on

the bed like a non-living bundle of clothes. What a co-incidence it was! The Mishra Brahmin of the divine city of Mathura, whose name was Ramcharan and whose extremely faithful wife was Janaki, was forcing himself on a pregnant widow and Constable Krishna Kant was guarding all this. I personally think that Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lord Krishna should have been there at that moment.

After few minutes, Ramcharan came out of the room, adjusting his uniform, with a dirty smile on

his face and he asked to Krishna Kant ―"Oye K.K, you are used to have Dal-Roti daily. Go

and have a Punjabi Butter Chicken thali today."

Krishna Kant replied sheepishly ―"No Sir, leave it."

Other constables laughed loudly at this. Ramcharan again smiled ―"Don't worry K.K. I am here, you go inside", Krishna Kant again smiled and refused. After sometime, the police team left the place.

Today Ramcharan was weeping inconsolably in his room remembering all those things. He met

the women Surjit and Shalini at the Rupinder‘s place were the same mother-daughter duo who

suffered and survived somehow that day 26 years back. Rupinder was the son of this lady Surjit whom Ruhi, his daughter loved so much. Everyday after dinner Ramcharan‘s family sat together in his room and chatted about many things. Then their children went to their respective rooms. Today after dinner Janaki, Ruhi and Narendra came in his room but they found him weeping and crying.

Janaki was worried ―"What happened? Why are you weeping? Would you tell something?"

Ramcharan could not bear the stress and finally told them about his sin dated 26 years back.

Shalini and Surjit were weeping in her room when Rupinder and Avinash entered. They were

troubled as neither Surjit nor Shalini was telling anything. Rupinder again asked ―"Please tell us

what is the matter?....why you both are so much disturbed? We have been asking for many days

but none of you are opening, why?"

Avinash also said to Surjit ―"Mommy ji, tell us something at least now. Until you don‘t tell us how we will know about the problem and how we can find any solution? Shalini, at least you tell something."

Shalini controlled herself for a while and then said to them angrily ―"Rup will not marry that girl."

Rupinder was stunned. Shalini, her doting Biji, was the first one to whom Rupinder told about the girl Ruhi for the first time. Shalini promised him that she will do every possible effort for this inter-faith marriage. Rupinder was a bit confused about the name of her father-in-law. Sometimes he told his sister it as R.C Mishra, sometimes as Radhey shyam mishra etc. Her sister teased him ―"Look, you can't even properly remember the name of you father-in-law."

And now he was taken aback by such unexpected anger of Shalini. He asked him in very low voice ―"Why Biji? Why not this marriage to that girl?"

Shalini scolded him ―"No means just No. You will not argue."

Avinash interfered in between ―"Shalini, he is just asking, don't speak so rudely to the younger

brother please tell us, what's the matter?"

Shalini now bursted into tears again and told them about the ordeal they had to bear 26 years back.

Avinash was speechless, completely shocked. Rupinder was now sensing the end of his small world.

Janaki was feeling herself as a handicapped. She could not do anything. She was not sure how to

react about this revelation by her husband. Ramcharan was not in the position to look into the

eyes of Janaki and Ruhi. Ruhi, without saying something, stood up and ran towards her room.

She closed the door and started weeping vehemently burying in face in the pillow on the bed.

It was 2 at the night. Nobody was sleeping. Ramcharan was thinking that finally, the curse of his

deeds are being brunt by his innocent wife and daughter. Janaki was thinking that of-late when the life of the family was on track, suddenly their world was shattering.

Surjit was now remembering everything….Ritinder….Deep….Satvinder…..Nimmi….Simmi….. Suman…. Pritam….Manjit….all were returning to her thoughts and all were asking questions to her.

She did not have any answer. Who did her child Rupinder love? The daughter of that monster

who had totally destroyed their beautiful world 26 years back? But then, is that girl or her son at

fault? Should Ruhi be punished for her father‘s deeds? She would have been unaware of her father‘s wrong deeds perhaps.

Shalini was feeling helpless as she had to opt between Rupinder‘s happiness and Surjit‘s pain now. Avinash was in such state of shock that he did not speak a single word since then. Poor Rupinder was also shell-shocked. He was unable to comprehend the situation then. Life could be a such complex mess, he was now realizing. He had such a simple persona that he could not think about such complex situation of human life, or may be, Surjit and Shalini did not let happen any such complex situation in front of him, or whatever was the reason. As much as he was trying to sort this out, he was getting stuck in the same. He was not able to decide whom should he take side of?

Was it right to stand by his mother and sister who sacrificed their everything for Rupinder‘s happiness, his upbringing or by the girl who stood by him like a rock in any of the circumstances despite not being a blood-relation?

But the most unfortunate situation was of Ruhi. Her cheerful persona was hard hit by this development. She was finding herself in an unexpected mess. She was not able to comprehend

anything and only one person could help her out. It was Rupinder. Actually she liked Rupinder

also because of this. He used to tolerate pretty gently all the tantrums and volatile behavior of

Ruhi. He never used to react ,never shouted at her. He did not rush to anything. Ruhi had all such

attributes. She used to get angry at the moment and also she used to react bitterly many a times,

but Rup was always at peace and thus shielded her from many problems. So she messaged him, "Have you slept, Rup?" Message was gone unanswered. Ruhi knew it because Rupinder was

not a nocturnal. He used to sleep early in the night and got up early morning for running in the park nearby. But to her surprise, her phone was vibrating after a few minutes. Rupinder was

calling.

She picked and said ―"Are you still awake?"

Rupinder answered in a chocked voice --"So are you."

Ruhi told him in very sad voice ―"Rup, my father told me something today, too ugly to say."

Rupinder was actually restraining himself now bursted into tears and said ―"Ruhi, my mother and Biji also told me something. Ruhi, I will talk to you later. I don‘t want to talk anything to anybody right now."

Ruhi, on any other day, would have ordered to him ―"Oye ladke, how can you put down the phone without my permission? Chal pehle baat kar mujhse."

But tonight she thought that she would put the phone down. She disconnected the call. But she was not at peace at all. She desperately wanted to talk to him but how? The person who ruined the life of his mother and the whole family, who killed all the eight members of the family and dishonored her mother was none other than her father. Her head was about to burst due to stress. Rupinder exactly knew that without talking to him, she cant be at peace, so he called her again ―"Hello Ruhi, you should sleep now. Don't worry, we will meet at Rajiv chowk metro station tomorrow after your school." Only then Ruhi could sleep that night.

Next morning, after breakfast Rupinder straight went to Mr. Siddhu‘s place. Siddhu sahib was a

leading lawyer in Human Rights and he adored him as his son. He was dealing with many cases

of 1984-riot victims. He had been pursuing continuously those cases with firm commitment for

last 20-22 years to get justice. Rupinder rarely visited their place but today he was very restless.

Elder couple asked about his restlessness and he told clearly everything that happened last night.

The couple was shocked. Siddhu sahib was looking at Rupinder and then asked in a pensive

voice ―"So what have you thought?"

Rupinder answered in a low voice ―"I can't understand anything, Uncle ji. What to do? What not to do? So I am here, please tell me."

Sddhu sahib asked his wife ―"O yaar! Please help him out. Even I can't decide anything."

Mrs. Siddhu asked Rupinder ―"Have you talked to Ruhi? Has her father told her the thing? What does she have to say?"

Rupinder told ―"I will meet him in evening. Her father told her but I can't guess what she would say."

Then she asked ―"..and to Shalini.."

Rupinder said ―"Biji is not listening to anyone and she is dead-against the marriage."

―"And what about Surjit?", asked Mrs. Siddhu to which Rupinder said --"She is completely silent since that engagement-day. She tells nothing, neither in hospital nor at home."

Mrs. Siddhu told him after a long pause ―"Rupinder, it is true that what Surjit and Shalini has

faced is impossible to be compensated but it is also improper to cultivate only hatred inside

ourselves. It will kill us from inside completely. I think you should talk to Surjit and Shalini one more time."

Rup looked at Mr. Siddhu, he was clearly not happy with the opinion. He was troubled because on one hand, he had been fighting for a just cause tirelessly and on the other hand, his assistant was madly in love with a girl who was the daughter of a butcher of 1984. He did not say this to Rupinder directly, but he said unwillingly ―"Do as you think better."

Rupinder understood clearly his dilemma. After some time, he left.

In the evening Ruhi came to meet him in the Central Park. Looking at her, Rup did not smile as

he used to. Today he did not recite any couplet or poetry for her as he frequently used to do which was another reason for Ruhi's joy. But nothing happened like that today. Ruhi was able to

understand what was going on so she said nothing. Both were sitting quietly.

Ruhi broke this tense silence when she asked ―"What happened at your home?"

Rupinder told her without looking at her ―"Nothing, biji does not want this marriage. She is dead against it."

Ruhi heard but surprisingly did not react even a bit, but her eyes welled up and tears rolled down her

fair, pink cheeks.

Rupinder put her palm into his and said ―"Please don‘t judge it. Actually we have come across a thing which was absolutely unexpected for us. Biji is extremely angry and mother is utterly silent. She is not speaking to anyone and...." Rupinder just stopped after it as the words were not enough.

Ruhi wiped out her tears and said ―"I know and only one person is responsible for this situation of your family and that is my father. Whatever you decide, I will follow it and I will support you. I am leaving now as I am getting late…." and Ruhi stood up and went. Rup wanted to stop her. He knew that she was not getting late but there was someone inside Rupinder who prevented him from calling her back.

After dinner, Avinash, Surjit, Rupinder and Shalini were sitting quietly in Surjit‘s room. Shalini

said to Rupinder then ―"Rupinder, do you still want to marry that girl?"

Rupinder was silent.

Again Shalini said ―"Okay, if you want then you do but there is a condition."

Suddenly Rupinder and Avinash looked up to her. She was angry ―"And that is, you will divorce her

with in a month of the marriage."

Hearing this Rupinder and Avinash were stunned. Avinash immediately objected ―"Shalu! What are you saying? Are you in your senses? Is this a way out?"

Rupinder asked ―"What do you mean Biji?"

Shalini was furious ―"It means that you would marry that daughter of a bitch and will divorce her with in a month and thus you will completely ruin her life just as her father, that rascal did to us."

Rupinder reacted angrily―"Biji, mind you language."

Avinash was also angry ―"Shalu! Are you mad?"

Shalini was breathing fire ―"Yes, you traitor, you snakelet! We have sacrificed our life just for

you, for your upbringing only to hear that I should mind my language? And for whom? For that insignificant, petty girl of that bastard policeman?" Shouting this at Rupinder, she powerfully threw her slipper towards him which hit him over his face.

Shalini was broken now and she knelt down. She was weeping inconsolably and she covered her

face under her palms. Avinash tried to console her but she refused it. Rupinder saw this side of

his Biji for the first time but he restrained himself and did not react.

He came to his Biji with her slipper, hugged her lovingly and said ―"Don‘t be angry Biji. Be calm."

Shalini was still in the zone. She again said loudly to Rupinder ―"Rup, promise me. You will do exactly the same. The person who has imposed this hell painful life upon us, he must be punished for his deeds. We must take revenge. God has given us a golden chance and we must not waste it. We will extract revenge and we will impose a traumatic life over his family and reduce his world down to ashes. Rupinder, promise me, my brother. Promise me."

Somehow, Rupinder and Avinash managed to make her calm and composed. They took her into her room, gave a glass of chilled water and then she slept in a few minutes.

Rupinder then came out of the room, to his mother. ―"Mommy, look at Biji. She is calling me a traitor and a snakelet. She threw her slipper to me, not a big deal actually but what is she saying?She is saying about extracting revenge. Mommy tell me, what type of revenge it would be? To whom? And for whose guilty?"

He was sobbing now, sitting near the feet of Surjit. She signaled him to come close. Then She

consoled him ―"Rupinder, don‘t take your Biji too seriously. She is angry as of now. You should go to your room and have a tight sleep." Then Surjit closed her eyes.

Rupinder wanted to discuss about marriage desperately but she did not say anything further.

Ruhi reached her home at evening, and to her surprise, main door was locked. Just then a child

came there playing with a ball and said ―"Ruhi didi, your father‘s health is getting worse and thus your family has has taken him to the Sadar hospital. Aunty ji asked me to tell this to you."

Ruhi immediately went to the Sadar hospital where her father had been admitted because of

deteriorating health. Doctor told her and other family members ―"Its severe heart attack. Don‘t

ask anything as of now. Have some patience and you have brought him here at the right time."

Other people went to their home after that. Ruhi was sitting there besides her father. Janaki

asked her to come home at night as Narendra would go there after dinner and he would stay at

the hospital in the night.

Ruhi came to home at 11 and after dinner, she messaged Rupinder ―"Papa at hospital, serious."

Rupinder too replied in message ―"Will meet you tomorrow evening there."

Next day, after her duty, Ruhi went to Sadar hospital but neither her father nor Rupinder was

there. She inquired and found that suddenly after noon, her father‘s health started to deteriorate

further and family members have taken him to Gangaram hospital. An upset and worried Ruhi

ran towards Gangaram hospital. He called her mother in the way and reached straight to the

hospital‘s room. Ramcharan was unconscious on the bed with an oxygen mask over his mouth.

Janaki was sobbing besides him. Rupinder was also there.

Janaki told Ruhi, gesturing towards Rupinder ―"He came to Sadar hospital to see him when suddenly his health worsened. Then he quickly brought him here in Gangaram hospital."

Meanwhile, the doctor came there and he told Ruhi and Janaki ―"Its a problematic case. Already he is suffering from sugar and BP, now Heart is also not working properly and liver too, it seems, is damaged. You people, please let him have some rest."

Suddenly them Ramcharan‘s body showed some movement. All people there again surrounded him. A weak, helpless Ramcharan tried somehow to thank Rupinder by folding his hands but could not get up. His eyes welled up and tears rolled down to his oxygen mask.

Rupinder also responded with folded hands and gestured him not to get up and to have some rest.

Then he moved outside of the room and went straight to a stone bench in the lawn of the hospital

and sat over it. After sometime, Ruhi also came there and sat quietly besides Rupinder. She was

looking at the lush, green grass and said to Rupinder without seeing his face ―"Thank you."

Rupinder kept his hand over hers and said ―"Don't worry. He is 60-plus now, some physical problem would be there frequently but Uncle ji will get well soon."

Ruhi was depressed ―"I don't know exactly. Doctors are saying that it is Liver Cirrhosis, a life-threatening disease, and in advance stage."

Both of them were sitting quietly. It was a pause. Then Ruhi said ―"Rup, he is ashamed of his deeds."

Rupinder did not react. He was just looking at the grass silently. Then he said without looking at her ―"So what?"

Ruhi was silent. What answer could she give? After some minutes Rupinder said ―"Ruhi, I am getting late and I am leaving", and he stood up and went. Ruhi could not say anything.

Days were passing by but Ramcharan‘s condition was worsening only. If heart worked properly then liver was lagging behind. If liver showed sign of improvement, heart showed red flag. Oxygen cylinder was being applied and removed after every second day. Finally Doctors surrendered and told his family members ―"Liver and Kidneys are damaged severely. May be because of continuous drinking for a long time, it would be good if you take him back the home. Whatever we could do, we did but now its almost impossible". Tears rolled down on the cheeks of Janaki and Ruhi that day.

Both of them came into the room with the Doctor and Ramcharan‘s medical report. Ramcharan was laying on the bed and Oxygen mask had been removed by then. He asked them ―"What happened? Janaki? Ruhi? Doctor?"

Then, Doctor gathered some courage and told him about his condition.

Ramcharan said to his wife in a low voice ―"It was imminent. It was destiny. This only had to be the result of that sin 26 years back." He rested his forehead on Janaki‘s shoulder who was sitting besides him and both were weeping now. After some minutes, when he came back to normal, he said to Ruhi ―"Ruhi though I have always been your cruel, good-for-nothing, characterless, scoundrel-like father, who has always been beating and torturing your goddess-like-mother, who has always been abusing both of you, who has spent nights with other ladies. You can‘t feel proud of such person as your father who completely ruined a happy and small family 26 years back and who dishonored a pregnant widow in front of her little child, that too in police uniform….." and he could not speak further, he started crying.

Then he took some water, recollected himself and again said to Ruhi ―"Before death, I just want

to meet that lady once, her little daughter and her son and want to express my grief, pain to

them. I want to feel sorry to them for my deeds. This sin is like an enormous burden on my conscience, which I can not carry further. Do just this one last thing for me, I would be indebted to you. I know that whatever happened, whatever has gone, it can not be returned back but now I am dying, and it is not good for a person to die under some such heavy burden on his conscience."

Ruhi came back home and called Rupinder and explained this to him with a lot of courage. She pleaded Rupinder to come to the hospital with his mother Surjit and sister Shalini. Rupinder was

in so much pain and grief already. He could only say ―"I will talk to them", and disconnected the

line.

Next day Avinash, Shalini, Surjit were discussing something in Shalini‘s room after dinner

when Rupinder entered with a grim look and sat quietly there. All three were looking at him.

Then he initiated ―"Actually, I have something to say. Please listen it."

He could not complete even his sentence when Shalini interrupted aggressively, “Tu us baap-beti ke baare mein koi baat nahin karega bas.”

Surjit intervened “Gussa nahin karte puttar, pehle bolne to de usko."

Then Rupinder told them about the entire conversation between him and Ruhi on the phone last night. There was a tense silence in the room after that. Rupinder then gathered some courage and said to them ―"Biji, there is a person. I agree, a bad person, very bad person but he is about to die. He is realizing his mistakes, his guilt which is haunting him in his last moments. He wants to say sorry. I am asking that why we should behave like bad persons? It is also mentioned in 'Guru Sahib' that wherever there is forgiveness, God is there only…." Rup could not complete his sentence when

Shalini interrupted angrily ―"Well done brother! Superb! That serpent has weaved such black magic upon you that you completely forgot in seconds what we suffered? And now you are telling us about 'Guru Sahib', right? When I asked you about extracting revenge, you could not get it and that girl……."

Rup shouted immediately upon his Biji for the first time ―"Biji! Consider yourself for just few moments in place of Ruhi and then tell me- whom I should take revenge to? And for what? One

who has not troubled or harmed me ever and has only given me the reasons to smile. Why I

should ruin her life?"

Shalini with equal venom screamed ―"You too consider yourself for few seconds in place of you mother and sister, you rascal!"

Surjit immediate intervened angrily ―"Shalu! How many times I have told you not to abuse like this?"

Shalini became quiet. Surjit and Rupinder then went to their room respectively.

It was a dark night but like just like last many nights, sleep was playing hide-and-seek with Surjit.

She was thinking that only this has been happening since time immemorial. A woman has been

suffering since that time and then she has been compromising too. She has to do these compromises. Sometimes for husband, sometimes for son, sometimes for her daughter,

sometimes for this, sometimes for that and the list goes on. She realizes that Rupinder loves

Ruhi so much, he yearns for her but never expresses it. But what does happen? It is Surjit who

yearns for her son‘s happiness. Why she can not be hard like Shalini? Where is Shalini wrong?

Why Surjit can't ask Rupinder to marry Ruhi and to divorce her with-in a month? What is wrong into it? What can her father do in such situation? What can be the power and prestige of a retired person? And that too, when he is bed ridden and about to die? And that widow Janaki, what can she do? Absolutely nothing. She has been beaten by her husband for so many years, what can she do for her daughter if Rupinder would divorce Ruhi with in a month after marriage? Why Surjit can not think like that?

Thousands of years ago, Sita ji had to pass a stern test of her purity. Ram ji had not to. 26 years

back, Surjit also faced a test of her survival. She has been passing through the ordeal, through the

test in her thoughts every day since that day of 1984. Now a test is again in front of her. Her own

son is pleading her to meet her own tormentor face-to-face, the one who completely destroyed

the life of her‘s and her family 26 years back. And why Rupinder is insisting? Just because the

person is about to die? Because he is counting his days? Because if Surjit and Shalini pardon him then he may die peacefully, without burden on his conscience? Why?

Because the person knows that Rupinder loves her daughter so much that he would persuade his

mother and sister to come to the hospital and Surjit would give in? Is there not any value of Surjit‘s honour and self-respect? Does Surjit have any existence as a human being or not? Is it so simple that somebody first dishonors a woman and then say ―'I am very sorry'? Exactly then the clock‘s bell told her that midnight had been passed. Surjit was struggling with an internal conflict, a turmoil was going on inside her so with such uncertain state of mind and to search for answers, she came out of the house quietly and proceeded towards the nearby Gurdwara.

In Gurdwara, Granthi sahib was about to sleep, when he saw Surjit there. He was surprised and

said ―"Oh! Bazwa ji? At such late night? Is everything alright at home? You would have called me, I would have been there, anything serious?"

Surjit requested him politely ―"Aman singh ji, something disturbing is going on in my heart and mind. A kind of trouble is there but I don‘t know exactly what is it? I am confused now. I can not think or decide. If you may please recite some lines of ―'Guru Sahib' then I will get so much relief."

Aman singh ji said politely ―"Bazwa ji, Guru sahib te sone chale gaye, mai seva karke rakh diya unko. Ab to subah hi uthenge. Japji Sahib hain, kaho to padh ke suna dun kuchh.”

Surjit replied ―"Yes, yes. Recite whatever sermon, whatever page you want. It would be very good."

Aman singh ji opened small book of Japji Sahib and started to read –

―"Ek Onkar, Satnam karta purakh, nirbhay-o-nirvair;

Akaal murat ajooni saibhan Guru parsad,

Jap

Aadi sach jugaad sach;

Hai bhi sach, Nanak hose bhi sach".

―"Please explain its meaning too, Aman singh ji", Surjit asked.

―"There is just one GOD. His name is the only universal truth. He is the creator of all of us. He

don‘t have neither fear nor hatred towards anybody. He is beyond any fear or hatred. He is

omnipresent and He is self-enlightened. He was the only truth, He has been the only truth, He is

the only truth at present and only He will be the ultimate truth".

Surjit was sitting there for a while, keeping her eyes closed, then after some time, she went.

She got up early in the morning. Today she was feeling mentally fresh. She was feeling light and

happy this morning. She had not been sleeping properly for many days but last night, after coming

back from the Gurdwara, she enjoyed a tight, stress-free sleep. Today she reached Gurdwara again after her daily routine. As she was descending from the stairs of the Gurdwara after morning religious rituals and reached to collect her slippers, She met Janaki there who actually came to Gurudwara to meet Surjit and Shalini.

Janaki did not have courage to see in Surjit‘s eyes but somehow she managed to do that and said ―"Bhabhi ji, I have come here to meet you…"

She could not complete her sentence when Surjit interrupt politely ―"Yes, yes. There is no

problem in that but you have come here at the abode of God. You should first seek the blessings of the almighty then you are most welcomed in my home, we will talk whatever you want to, at breakfast there."

After paying obeisance to the God, Janaki went to Surjit‘s home with her. Shalini opened the door and Surjit signaled her to keep quiet. Rupinder went for the morning exercise in nearby park.

Shalini prepared Poha and tea for the breakfast. It was clear from Janaki‘s body language that

she was feeling unease and awkward there, in the drawing room. It was a no-brainer—It was

only her husband who threw this family straight into the inferno 26 years back. It was her husband who killed the husband of the woman sitting in front of her. It was her husband who dishonored a pregnant woman in front of her little child, and that woman and child were now sitting across her. She was in their drawing room, having breakfast. Janaki was feeling as she must die at that very moment.

Surjit was looking at an uncomfortable Janaki and initiated ―"Okay, Bhabhi ji tell us. What you want to discuss?"

Janaki was straight to the point ―"Bhabhi ji, there is nothing pleasant to talk about. You know each and everything. Ruhi‘s father wants to meet you and Shalini in his last few days." Janaki did not say beyond these words.

Janaki and Shalini were totally surprised when Surjit said after a long pause ―"Okay, I will come to the hospital tomorrow at 10 in the morning with Rupinder and Shalini."

Janaki thanked her, stood up and went out of the room.

After departure of Janaki, Shalini reacted angrily, “Meri jooti baat karegi us se! Why should we go to the father of that red serpent? Have we signed any contract that we will help him so that he may die peacefully? Absolutely not. And even if we signed, we must not visit the hospital at any cost. Let that rascal die there. Whatever he has done, even the most painful death is not enough to him. He must be in such condition that neither he may live nor he may die. Unfortunately, my younger brother doesn't listen to me otherwise I would have taught a lesson to the whole family of that policeman. If Rup marries to Ruhi and divorces her within few days then the whole family of Ramcharan will bear the brunt of his karma."

She could not complete her sentence when she received a mild tap on her head from behind. She turned around and saw a bit angry Surjit. Surjit said ―"How can you speak such? How can you even think like this about a married women while you are a married person yourself? Have I taught you

only this much?"

Then she said to Shalini ―"You should sit here for a while", and she held her hands into hers and both mother-daughter duo sat on the sofa. Then Surjit gave her a glass of chilled water and a biscuit. Shalini was having water after two biscuits, and Surjit was caressing her head and long hairs.

All the heat in Shalini‘s mind was dissipating outside. After some time she was sitting quietly.

Then Surjit said ―"Shalu, it is written in 'Guru Sahib'—Ek Onkar, Satnam karta purakh,

nirbhay-o-nirvair…..which means that HE is beyond any fear and hatred. If HE never fears or

hates somebody, then who are we? Who are we to hate anybody? We are nothing. As far as

Ramcharan is concerned, the one who is receiving punishment itself by the almighty, one who

is dying on the bed of the hospital. Who are we to punish him for his deeds? Whatever happened to us on that day 26 years back, it was barbaric, it was heinous and macabre, there is no doubt about it. But, should I feel ashamed of it? Have I done anything wrong so that I should feel guilty? Absolutely not. It is he who was guilty. It is he who should feel guilt and who should be ashamed of it. Why should I?"

Then She said with pride and an a bit arrogant smile ―"O Puttar ji! Asi Sikhaan thahrey, Sikhaan de dil vadde honde hain”, which means ―"O daughter! We are Sikhs, sikhs are bighearted people."

Janaki actually had not went away. She was about to leave. Exactly when she turned around and Surjit closed the door. Janaki heard a harsh, furious and loud reaction of Shalini. She stopped and

went near the door. Then she listened to all of the conversation of Surjit and Shalini. After this, she turned around and went away with blessings and best wishes for Surjit on her lips and tears in her eyes.

Next morning around 11, Surjit entered into the hospital‘s room with pride, with her son Rupinder and daughter Shalini. Ramcharan was bed ridden but still tried his best to get up. Then he found Janaki‘s shoulder under his hands and he could get up and sit properly on the bed. He did not have courage to look up into the eyes of Surjit and Shalini. Then he greeted them with folded hands without looking at them. Then he started weeping and crying.

He pleaded them ―"Bhabhi ji and Shalini, it would be an insult to the humanity itself even if I feel sorry to you for whatever I have done to your family. Even iIf my body would be cut into hundreds of pieces, each piece would be ashamed of the fact that it is the piece of my body. I am hating myself

to such an extent today, in front of you and look again, what God has done to me. This is the punishment of all my Karmas. I am bed ridden now. These are last few days of my life. I know Bhabhi ji that no pardoning would be enough for my deeds. But I still think that for me, this would be not less than a pardon if you please accept my daughter Ruhi as your daughter-in-law", and Ramcharan started crying inconsolably. Janaki tried to make him calm but he gestured her not to touch him. He wanted to weep as much as possible. He wanted to cry as much as all the memories of his bad deeds may be flushed out with his tears.

After few minutes, Surjit said to him ―"This is in fact a matter of joy and happiness for us. On that day, the engagement was left incomplete mid-way because of my health. Would you like to complete it?" and Surjit put the beautiful engagement ring on her palm, which she and Shalini ordered for Ruhi but could not confer it in front of Ramcharan.

Ramcharan was perhaps not ready for such response. He was unable to think of what should be said

at the moment. He became extremely happy but he was unable to show his feelings. He just saw

towards Janaki as he was so happy and emotional, whether he wanted so much to say at the moment. Janaki happily brought out the engagement ring for Rupinder from her purse and showed it to Ramcharan , which she had been keeping in it since that day. Ramcharan signaled Rupinder and Ruhi to come forward. Both of them could hardly hide their joy and their tears. They came forward and exchanged the rings and thus completed their engagement in hospital.

No one was in that room who did not cry with joy and happiness. Even hospital staff, who were

present there could not hide their emotions. Shalini, after so much hatred towards Ruhi and her

family, finally could not restrain herself from immersing in that joy and happiness and she hugged Ruhi with so much love.

In that hospital room, Surjit was now feeling the loneliness. She was now remembering her own engagement about thirty years back with young, handsome Manjit and finally she broke down after showing so much courage and self-restrain, and she was weeping inconsolably now. Janaki

tried to make her calm and composed. She kissed and hugged Ruhi with motherly love and

affection but at last, she could not stop herself from saying, "Chaurasi bada yaad aunda hai

puttar……bada yaad aunda hai."

THE END


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