Take Me Back!

Take Me Back!

8 mins

He bent down, hid behind the sack, tried to peep outside from its back. With a heavy rifle in his aching hand, his feet in oversized slippers and an old cloth piece hanging on his fair chest, his heart beating faster each second, he kept on hiding behind that mud sack. He had encountered another such attack, he knew that the fight was now closing. As he turned to the other side with a sigh of relief, his stoned red eyes saw his friend lying in the mud. “Alas, what has happened to him?” Well, he very well knew what had happened to him. A bullet fired from the pistol of a police officer had pierced through his friend’s shoulder, the same shoulder that had lifted him when three years ago they had won the race for their school!

He waited, behind the sack, helpless enough to see his friend bleed in front of him. The blood of men in green khaki no more made him nauseous now but the blood of his friend mixing with the sand, gave him a headspin. Though still nineteen years old, he was wise enough to understand that nothing was left in him now, he was dead and going there in the middle of this firing would mean putting his own life into risk while knowing that it won’t be of any use. What if he would have brought his wounded friend to a safe place? Would that have saved his life? There weren’t any facilities for the delivery of a pregnant woman there, what would they have done with as severely wounded body as his. And perhaps, he knew that his friend could not have had a better future than this. God may have taken him to hell but that was certainly better than this place!

Exactly three years ago this day, he had been a happy hilarious teenager, going to school, flirting with girls, fighting with dad for a new iPhone, talking naughty and vulgar with his male friends but still with a goal and a focused mind. His aspiration was to join the Indian Army. Yes, he was among those few people in our country who wish to join defense forces because they have that passion for it and not simply because they are unqualified and don’t have any other option to earn a living. The over smart, little flirt had gone to spend a night at his friend’s house. After having dinner, both of them got on his dad’s Pulsar and went off to wander in the town. Not a big deal it was for boys of this age group who love burning their fuel and just wander around in the city more than anything else. Needless to mention, it’s a taboo for Indian girls!

Just as they got down from the bike on the bridge to sit and enjoy a puff of cigarette, a van stopped near them, pulled them inside and flashed away. The night closed onto them, closed on with a dark and thick shroud which separated them from the world they had been living in, forever.

They cried, they lamented, they pulled, they pushed. But everything was as still as the expressions on the face of the men facing them. A black cloth tied on their foreheads, a muddy kurta covered their sunburnt bodies, with nothing between the hot field and their bottoms, they sat there, puffing the hookahs. They smelt strongly of tobacco just as that place smelt of ammunition. They didn’t ask the boys about their past, didn’t ask their high school percentage, didn’t ask them for food and neither did they respond to their laments. Five nights later, the starving boys were given chapattis to eat with onion. Don’t think that the men were rude to them, they also had the same food!

Instead of their favorite butterscotch ice-cream in dessert they were given pistols today. Pistols that had always fascinated them, which they had always wished to hold but today when they touched the cold metal, not their bodies but their hearts shuddered! They were awakened at six the next morning and taken to a place where twenty more similar boys were standing. What next? Hit the target!! “Shoot, shoot I said!”, shouted a voice which brought goose bumps to the tender arms of the boys. He shot, his shoulder was about to break with pain, he fell to the ground, his friend rushed to him but was stopped and sent back to his place by the same voice that had made those strong boys’ souls shudder. No doubt they had done forbidden deeds before. They had stolen petty money from their dad’s wallets, had tried to come close to girls while they didn’t have love for them in their hearts, they had bunked full day schools, had been involved in bouts, had hit each other, bled also sometimes but this, this was far more different and cruel than what they could have ever thought of.

Fifteen days of training and they were made real snipers, faster and with much less expenditure than what our government spends on training our army personnel. They were given sufficient food, food that the men thought were sufficient for them but how will that boy eat that stale and uncooked chapatti instead of those parathas with butter, how will he drink that muddy water instead of his lovable orange juice, how will he have raw wine instead of his favorite bournvita. Well, the boys were mature enough to understand that they had been kidnapped by a terrorist community for whom they will have to fight now!

They had won the fight with the police force. Won, in the sense that less of their people had died than the number of khaki clad jawans they had shot, before the fight closed. This was also a victory, the terrorists, the original ones celebrated night long with wine and meat but it was not the same for that boy, the boy for whom victory was winning his school’s sport day shuttle, standing first in his class, getting a good rank in Maths Olympiad. Those used to be the special moments when his dad would pat him, give him a five hundred rupee note and the whole day to enjoy with his friends. But this day’s victory brought nothing but utter grief and pain to him. He had lost his best friend there, his only companion in that desert.

He lay in the hay stack wetting it with his tears, those rare tears which when would come out would melt his parents. His mother, the woman who forgave all of his son’s mistakes when he would say a sweet sorry to her, that same woman was now not ready to forgive herself for letting her son go out for the night out. Her condition can be very well imagined. A dead son was better for her than a lost son now. What not were she and her husband doing to find him out! They had visited each and every astrologer, the police stations, given advertisements in newspapers and frantically went out themselves searching for their son. But the hope that they’ll find him was diminishing slowly but surely in their hearts. They were losing that voice in them which was earlier very strong and said that they’ll get him back. They had exploited each and every possible place where they had a chance to find him, all the hospitals, help centers and even orphanage of the city. They didn’t know what state was their son in, never before had they worried so much about him because they knew he was alive but still not in front of their eyes and of course they knew that he was forcefully being kept away from them. What could be more terrifying for someone’s parents!

Though the prayers didn’t stop, the hopes started dying. Their relatives kept on telling them that their son was dead, though still so painful, it was a bit less terrifying than accepting the truth that their son was alive but not in their contact. But that father’s heart still refused to believe this, he still tried and tried, tried his whole life, tried till he grew old, till his last day, till the day when his younger brother lifted his body instead of his son. His son, who used to look outside with eager eyes all the time in the hope that someone will come to rescue him, who had tried running away from there several times, also lost everything now. The son who wanted to make his father proud of his achievements, who wanted his dad to pat on his back when he would come out as an army officer, didn’t even come to know about his father’s death.

It had been more than ten years now since he was living there now, but still his heart was there in his previous life. He now looked just like those terrorists who he used to see in the movies with handcuffs and dirty teeth, but still his heart throbbed whenever he shot someone dead. His food, clothing, everything changed and to some extent his mentality also started becoming like those terrorists but still if someone there would care to ask him what was there in his heart, what did he want, the only answer would be “Return back home”. His life had totally changed. He had to move to places along with his own kidnappers, escaping the police. He had grown, grown old enough to understand that he had to spend his whole life there now because they won’t let him go and even if he manages to run away, the outside world won’t accept a murderer, a terrorist!!

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