Night Before Day
Night Before Day
I curled up on the bed. My sleep was over. The sunlight crept through the window, trying to wake me up. It was not the early morning sunshine though, just a bit late. The clock showed 3.30. I sat up on the bed. My half closed eyes popped up bright and made a beeline for something in the plastic bag kept above the shelf beside the bed. I just couldn’t wait to open the bag.
I peeped through the window. Waah! So many people. This was more than the usual hustle-bustle on the street. There were so many new and different shops around, selling colourful toys and stuff. Men, women, children, all of them joyously buying and bargaining. Is there something tomorrow, I thought. I asked mother, “Ma, why are there so many people on the street? Is there something tomorrow?”
“It’s the festival tomorrow. Remember? I told you last week. It comes on your birthday every year.”
This is great! How can I forget this? Just four days ago, I got to know about this and I forgot?? Two treats in a single day. Now, that’s something to make the day special.
I sat beside the window, looking up to the sky, “God, thank you for everything. Let tomorrow be as great as today”. The sky was camouflaging its blueness to turn red. This was like a painting I saw at the fair. I wanted Ma to see it. She was switching on the radio. And to our surprise, it played Ma’s favourite song! I thought she wanted to sway and swing to the song, but she just sang, making slight hip movements occasionally. It was funny!
“Hey, I don’t think you want to miss this today”, and what was she talking about. You know, the best part of the day before the festival was this! Fireworks! Ma told me once that I used to be afraid of firecrackers. I used to hide wherever I could, so that I don’t get to hear the loud noise. Growing up, I started loving them. I love watching the display of fireworks from the terrace. My friends ask me why I don’t burst firecrackers, maybe we can’t buy them, that’s why.
I ran up to the terrace to get a glimpse of the fireworks in display. Bright colours, green, blue, golden, every colour from the palette painting the canvas called the sky. It was a wondrous display of light and sound. Beautiful! I wonder what people from space, from up there could see. I guess it would be the most breathtakingly beautiful thing they would’ve ever seen. The noise and the lights were getting bigger and bigger. Ma had gone to buy something from the nearby shop. I was waiting for her to come and sit with me on the terrace.
“I think I’ve been up here for some time. I wonder where Ma is”
The fireworks stopped. “Isn’t this too early? I thought it would go on the whole night.”
I started climbing down the stairs, when I heard hastened thumping of feet. I could hear people yelling. Something was going wrong. I need to check on Ma. “Where’s she? What’s happened to her? Is there a fight or something in the building?”
I scrambled down the stairs and peeped through the balcony. There were some twenty people with guns and knives entering into the homes below. There were some army men too. I panicked. I feared to go down. But I wanted to go to Ma. One of the men climbed up the stairs, just as I was about to go down. He caught me by the neck and pushed me. My head hit the door behind. He then, proceeded to break through the door behind, forcing the people in the home to come outside. I ran up to the terrace. Four more men joined him and they threw flaming bottles in the houses. All of this happening and I was thinking just about Ma. I wanted to be with her safe. I wanted to cry, but I held up. One of the men told the other to check the terrace. I ran as fast as I could up to the terrace and sat down behind the tank above.
“Four hours ago, I was happy. Dancing with Ma. Me laughing. She laughing.”
I cried, closing my mouth. I just could not come to terms with what just happened. I wanted to see Ma now. I wanted to just hold her hand and lie on her lap. Just like any other day.
People were pulling out bodies into carts. I didn’t want to see them. I was looking for my Ma. The home was shattered as was the others’. The photo of Pa hung tilted to the side. The radio smashed up. And the plastic bag kept above was among the debris of bodies. As I was about to take it, someone called out my name.
I ran up to there, with the plastic bag in my hand. They brought out a body, which had cared and nurtured me for all these years. I wished she wasn’t her but I knew I was wrong the moment they brought it in front of me. I fell on my knees. Shocked. My blood froze. I couldn’t talk. The others were trying to make me stand up and see it. My world was over. Oh, God why? I hugged her tight and didn’t want to leave her. This was the last joy of my life. And You took it.
Oh, God! What in life is happiness and joy if there’s no Ma for me?