One and half Mile
One and half Mile15 mins 268 15 mins 268
On the border of India, Havildar Ranjan Kumar gave his life while fighting the terrorists. On that day, the whole village came to Kalu's house. The way the Indian army honored deceased havildar Ranjan Kumar at the tile-roofed house located in their village, Kalu was not able to forget that. The loud unrelenting wailing and screams of his daughter-in-law who was pregnant were flashing before his eyes. The Indian army was giving last salutes to its brave soldiers and fired rounds in open air. The loud echoes of firing rounds brought Kalu back from the cremation grounds near the village to the present moment. It was night and the darkness of the night was covering the sky. There was a light coming from one and a half miles away from the village settlement. It was raining at its peak. Kalu was running quite fast in the rain.
Among all the clothes, he had just worn a loincloth which had completely drenched with rainwater. The thunder was screeching loudly in the sky, and the flash from it was breaking the darkness of the night which was dissolved by its radiance. Large drops of rain were making so much of noise while falling on the ground that the sound of the rain was tearing through the ears, the winds blowing, and the lightning flashes continued to shine. Razor-sharp winds were shaking the falling rain water badly, as if there was a war between the rain and wind, along with the howling whistle a combination of both wind and raindrops were falling on the bare black back of Kalu like lashes. The winds were moving so fast that Kalu was not able to run properly in a straight line. The thick and thin drops of the rain were falling on the ears making it impossible for Kalu to hear anything else, the rain water was running all across Kalu's cheeks, forehead, eyebrows and eyes and was continuously dripping down his half-white beard, which he was repeatedly wiping away.
The stream of falling rain was so thick that he was unable to see anything in front of him. Kalu's foot suddenly slipped and he fell down as the path was unmetalled and slippery with mud. He had to go far, so he got up immediately. It was necessary to reach to that flashing light in any situation. It was necessary for the old Kalu to reach there and was moving his hands steadily and dragging his bare feet over the mud. Running and moving in the heavy rains sometimes slipping, but never faltering, he was speeding up his movements. He was badly drenched in the rain and was also very tired. Because of his hard physical work in the rains, sounds of huh...Huh..Huh....Along with frequent coughing were coming out constantly. At times he used to see the sky and then the source of that light, Pressing both of his lips together with a loud....huh... He was pounding his heavy steps along the way in the muddy road. His tension filled excitement of this kind was for his only daughter-in-law, "Rajni" who was in labor who was widowed 2 months ago. After a long tiring run Kalu reached his destination, the government quarter of the only doctor in the village.
Kalu was completely bathed in water,he was briskly moving around the government quarter to find the main door of the house.After a few moments he saw the door, Kalu ran towards it and quickly began knocking on the door of the lady doctor's house, Dr. Sahib-Doctor Sahib he shouted loudly. Outside of the house, car driver of the Doctor, who also used to guard the area, was sleeping in the car. The driver woke up because of the sudden commotion he heard. He took his lathi in one hand and an umbrella in other and ran hurriedly to find the cause of such a sudden commotion.After a while he found Kalu and asked, "are you mad or what? Kalu did not pay any attention and continued loudly knocking and calling the doctor at the door. The driver scolded Kalu with a loud voice and said, "you look crazy and if you do not run away from here, you will get to know the taste of my lathi!"Kalu continued knocking the door, while the driver was getting red in anger. He said, "stop it right now", and as soon as he raised his lathi, the doctor's husband opened the door and asked, "Why is it so much noise at this hour of night, what's the matter?" The driver said, "this is a madman who was knocking on the door, I asked him to go away but he was not listening", you go and rest sir, I will deal with him.
The driver was pulling Kalu away from the door and was shouting loudly at him. While all this was happening the lady Doctor appeared in the scene, seeing her, Kalu released his hands from the clutches of the driver with a strong thrust and fell at the feet of the lady doctor, and started crying bitterly. The lady Doctor said, "Hey.... What are you doing, get up ", the driver picked up Kalu, and even struck two lathi blows to Kalu. The lady Doctor asked his driver to stop this misbehaviour at once. Lady Doctor asked Kalu, "What's the matter, what are you doing here in such a tremendous rain, why have you come so late at night?" Kalu said crying, "Save my Bahuria, she will die, she is in labour pain her water will break anytime ; she is alone in the house, only you can save her and her baby. The lady doctor said, "Hey, why didn't you speak of it earlier, it is a very serious matter, how far is your house?" Kalu replied, "In the village not far away from here, only one and a half miles away. The lady Doctor immediately asked the driver to take out the car, went inside her room and took few medicines and injections in her bag. Kalu also started washing his hands and feet in rain water falling from the roof of the government quarter, the Doctor asked Kalu to sit back. Doctor's husband said, "I will also go along". Everyone sat in a car and drove towards Kalu's house.
The rain had slowed down but the road's condition was very bad.The clouds were still there and were showing their presence with rumble again and again. The headlight of the car was falling on the path and its disreputable condition was quite visible before everyone's eyes. Quite frequently the lightning was flashing in the sky and the clouds were also roaming around here and there in the sky along with thunders and lightening flashes. The car was moving slowly on the road, the rainwater was spread everywhere on the road, the driver was not aware of the pits present along the road. Kalu was quietly sitting and was looking outside the window of the car. The atmosphere inside and outside of the car was quiet, there was just the sound of running engine of the car and in between there were loud thunders. Suddenly at once there was a bright lightening in the sky and a scene of Delhi came in front of Kalu where his son was given Param Vir Chakra, Kalu at that time had worn white kurta and pajama on the advice of the head of the village and Gandhian cap on his head. President of India presented him the ultimate heroic chakra and shook hands with him, Kalu was unable to understand anything at that time, he was just looking here and there. It made no sense to him at all.
There was a soldier with him walking ahead of Kalu and guiding him, Kalu went wherever the soldier told him to go. The ceremony was over and Kalu came to railway station to return to his home village. Those who belonged to the village of Kalu, came along with Kalu. Some people tried to console Kalu and also expressed their sympathy. The train started moving and after an 8-hour journey, Kalu detrained at the railway station of his village, as well as some villagers who went to Delhi to accompany him, they also got off. Suddenly the sound of the bandwagon began echoing, a leader welcomed Kalu with a tilak, wearing a garland, and with a hugging a photo. Kalu was not able to understand anything again, he was just looking at all this drama in an uninterrupted mood. Then Netaji went ahead shook hands with people and proceeded with his drama.Just as netaji came, he went away in the similar fashion along with the bandwagon.
At the Station, Kalu was left standing wearing Kurta-Pajama, Gandhian Cap and tilak on the forehead with a garland of flowers around his neck.After a while, the noise of the band wagon was also gone. After walking two steps, he stopped and started staring on the ground, he was sweating too much,sweat drops started appearing on his forehead. The drops of sweat were dripping profusely and almost wiping away the tilak on the frontal portion of his head between the eyebrows. From Kalu's eyes it was vey obvious that he was very angry. He was standing there and he was constantly staring down on the groung, he was unable to speak anything because of anger, there was sadness and fury on his face. The drops of sweat from the head were constantly dripping. A train was about to pass on the track. Announcement was made for its arrival.
Suddenly everything was quiet and in an instance, a train passed on the tracks blowing the horn loudly. After the train's engine passed only the sounds coming from the wheels crossing the joints between the tracks were left to be heard. After the passage of the train, strong winds from the force of train's speeding away came by and Kalu's cap flew away, but yet he was standing in the same position at the same place, his eyes were red, he was breathing heavily, his whole body was sweating as he stood there silently. Then somebody shook him, there was a voice in his ears, "hey, mad old man, sir is asking you something, don't you even have the courtesy to reply him, hey....you... hey old man... ". Kalu came to his senses, he was in the car, but his eyes were reddish. In the same mood, he turned his head toward the doctor's husband. Doctor's husband got frightened a bit for a moment, he put his hand on Kalu's shoulder and asked, "What's the matter, old man?"
Rajni was alone at Kalu's house. She was in great pain, gradually the pain of childbirth was increasing. One and a half hours had passed, and she had no idea about Kalu at all. After the son's death, Kalu was very much lost, he did not cry even when he lost his son, he just kept silent, and from morning till night, he kept sitting charpai outside his house. Rajni had to take full care of her father-in-law. His husband's pension was their only income. Earlier, Rajni used to do many things, she used to have very long happy gossips with his father-in-law. She used to prepare meals for three times daily at home that too of Kalu's choice, because her husband had said that after the passing of Ranjan Kumar's mother in childhood, Kalu had great hardship while bringing him up, so before going to his duty at the frontline, Ranjan had entrusted Rajni with the responsibility of caring for her father, and Rajini also used to take very good care of Kalu happily and respectfully. Rajni was very sad to see Kalu silent, she asked Kalu everyday, "Babuji what food will you like to eat today? But Kalu used to reply, "Nothing my dear daughter, prepare what you want to have today,I have lost happiness in eating food, if you will eat good I will feel that my ranjan has eaten the same,moreover, food is more important for you and your child. I will eat after you have eaten your part"
Rajni's pain increased, but she was worried about her father-in- law, she barely got out of bed and went out of the house and started trying to find Kalu. She started breathing heavily in the rain. She called loudly, "Babuji-Babuji", but every time her calls went in vain. She came inside the house warmed up some water in a bottle and laid it on the stomach area. The weather had cooled down from the rain. There was no one to help her because of being alone at home. She screamed loudly with pain. The Rajni was completely helpless at home.
Kalu was about half an hour from his house along with the doctor in the car, it was about three o'clock in the morning. Kalu replied, "my name is Kalu Saheb". As soon as they heard it, the lady doctor immediately asked in astonishment, "Kalu !!... late Ranjan Kumar's father? Kalu said, "Yes Saheb, I am the father of Ranjan kumar". After listening to this, there was silence in the car, the driver had suddenly stopped the car. Doctor's husband looked towards the driver, and the face of the driver had become white due to shame. After a few seconds the driver changed the gear and the car started again. Kalu said, "Ranjan was the only son I had, saheb, his mother had died while he was still a little boy, since then I had only Ranjan as a family with me. When he was a child saheb, one day an ant bit him after that he had a fever for three days, my little baby kept on sleeping for three days. It was the same ranjan whose body was hacked to pieces that I being his father had to see when his dead remains were brought to me to have a last look.
I saw Ranjan's pieces saheb but I did not cry, because I know my brave son, who was martyred fighting bravely,was not crying in his last moments,and after all I am his father". Speaking of this, Kalu's pain was clearly coming out through his voice, and the shaking of his voice coming from his throat was a clear indication of it. He was trying to hide his grief, but his anger and pain was clearly visible in his voice and facial expressions. Kalu said, "There was a friend of Ranjan Sahib, who was stationed with him at the military checkpost at that time, he said that 40 terrorists were entering the border of India, my Ranjan had killed 7 terrorists, but while fighting them Ranjan went down the hill, and even crossed the border, there were 33 terrorists surrounding him. To save him from them, Indian soldiers started firing at the terrorists, and killed 23 terrorist but the remaining ten monsters killed and hacked my son to death.I keep thinking this all day long that, as a boy who had fever for 3 days after being bitten by an ant in childhood, when his body was being hacked to pieces by cutting away his hands, feet and neck, then how would have he felt at that moment? " Everyone was absolutely silent, just the clouds were thundering and the engine was running. Kalu had tears in his eyes but they were not coming out, Kalu asked such a question the answer of which could only be given by keeping quiet, "Doctor, what do you think which part of his body was hacked first,his head or limbs ? Nobody answered anything.
The rain had stopped again and Kalu's house had also come, but the car could not go there because the rain had accumulated excessive debris on the road, and no one wanted the car to get stuck in mud at that time, therefore Kalu showed everyone his house with gestures. They were so close to Kalu's house that they were able to listen to the screams of rajni, listening to the her screams, Kalu became even more restless and without wasting a moment, he raced towards his house but the doctor's husband caught him, and said, "Hey do not panic, now we are all here, nothing will happen to your daughter-in-law". Kalu said, "saheb, let me go, if I will not be there unthinkable will happen, I can not lose Rajni at all costs". Kalu ran away while others came to his house behind Kalu. The girl was screaming in a semi-concious state and she was breathing heavily.
As soon as she arrived, the lady doctor examined Rajni's heartbeat and asked everyone to move out and wait outside. The Doctor warmed the water again and closed the door. Kalu started looking with horror into the skies. The clouds were clearing and the sky was visible, the sun was also about to rise. Then the door opened and Doctor came out wiping her face with sari, and said smilingly that baby was born healthy.Kalu ran inside the house and raised the child in his lap, as soon as he picked him up, his eyes started to tear. The sun's rays were coming in from the window of the house, and the face of Kalu was visible with sun light. Kalu was holding the child in his lap, "Look at Saheb....My baby.....My son..... saheb... (Smiling and weeping at the same time)... eh... my baby my son....saheb, tears were dripping from his eyes and running across the cheeks, and with sunrays Kalu's eyes were shining with the brightness of the light. With the same glowing eyes, he looked towards Rajni and lifted his hand and blessed her. His lips were trembling with anxiety and the only thing he was able to murmur was my baby....My son, these words were continuously coming out of his mouth.
Holding the newborn Kalu in his lap he sat down on the ground, And began to love the newborn baby very much. He kissed the child's feet, then the hands. He tried to laugh, but ended up crying everytime. Because of anxiety, his throat got paralysed at that moment. He repeatedly looked at Rajani who also was in tears, and tried to talk something but was not able speak a word. After a while the baby started crying and the doctor gave the baby to Rajni to breastfeed. Suddenly, Kalu began to cry loudly and the name of Ranjan came out of his mouth loudly, for two months he had held his tears, but today he was unable to control himself, showing the doctor his palms and weeping heavily, as if he was showing his misfortune hidden in his empty palms. Kalu's cries were echoing around the entire atmosphere. It seemed as if he was saying that the destiny hidden in the lines of his palms had played a joke with him and Kalu was questioning the lines. He was not able to understand once again who he was in tears for, his late son or for the newborn?