At sharp 4:30 am the alarm buzzed. It was unusually cold this whole month but Dhara felt no unease today in waking up with the first ring of the alarm. After all it was her last exam today which means her dream of watching a first movie in cinema will be fulfilled tomorrow as promised by her mother, Beena.
Beena has been saving money for this plan since a couple of months now. She had informed all the houses, where she used to work as a maid, well in advance about 2 days leave which she was planning to take.
Most of the women were quite supportive of the fact that Beena was working so hard on the good upbringing of Dhara. After all she was the only earning member of the family and Dhara was her only child.
As Dhara switched off the alarm, Beena who was sleeping next to her woke up with a shock and was unable to believe that Dhara was awake. Usually it takes around 40 minutes of efforts to wake her up.
And since in the previous exam Dhara was little late for the exam, Beena wanted to ensure that they start early and reach for the exam well in time. After all it was a 1 km long walk through the village till the main road, from where they could get a Rikshaw or an Auto if they are lucky. The nearest government school was around 5 km from their place where Dhara used to study.
“We will borrow the books for 6th standard from Nupur Didi, I want to start preparing for next year”; Said Dhara to Beena. Dhara being a bright student was aware of the benefits which good education can bring to a person. She has seen Nupur’s elder sister Rupa becoming doctor and brining fame to their village.
“But before that you need to do well in your exam today” warned Beena. “I will top again this year Maa, don’t you worry”, replied Dhara. Beena felt blissed and glad of her.
On their way to the main road, while crossing a dhaba on the way, they started getting those uncomfortable sensation again. Here people used to openly drink till late night and few of them would tease Dhara and her mother. Not even Police could dare to do anything about it.
“Once these exams are over we will think of shifting to a better place. If Dhara’s father would have been with us today, life would have been so comfortable”, thought Beena to herself.
But today, surprisingly there was no one to tease them on the way, not even Daljeet, who was notorious in the village for his anti-social activities. Daljeet who just turned 17 last week, was not always like this. He was a reasonably good student till the age of 7, all thanks to his mother Santosh who was very focused about his son’s education. She used to cook food in a local restaurant cum bar. Her husband was a total drunkard and seldom use to come to the house. For Daljeet and Santosh, their father was as good as dead. Daljeet used to love his mother a lot and could go to any extent to protect her.
But one night while returning from work alone, Santosh was surrounded and raped by few local goons who were regular to that bar. When she, along with Daljeet and some neighbors went to Police to file a complaint Cops there tried to molest and defame her further. Daljeet couldn’t stand this behavior and hit one of the cop’s head with a heavy stone. He was immediately arrested, beaten up badly and was locked up. Few days after, the court announced a punishment term of 2 years for Daljeet in a Juvenile jail. His mother, now alone, couldn’t face the society and their barbs, and hung herself to death one night. He rapists were never found and punished. Daljeet life’s was completely devastated and he decided to never follow or believe in law or the so called society any more.
After he was released, he took to drugs, alcohol and crime. He was full of hatred for the world and had no respect for any moral. He often used to tease and molest girls and women of the village. A couple of times he was arrested as well for 2 months. He had a special attraction towards Dhara, because of her fair complexion and beauty.
So while today Daljeet was not seen on the way to tease them, Dhara and Beena were never so secure in their hearts. Once they reached the main road and found an auto they took a sigh of relief.
While they were sitting in the Autorikshaw, after some distance they realized that the Auto driver has taken a different path. They shouted at him but he would not listen. Instead he increased the speed so that no one could jump off the auto.
Both Beena and Dhara were shouting loud on the road to save them. But early morning at 5:30 am there was hardly any crowd on the streets. One Milkman who was on his way heard something but couldn’t do anything. Auto driver took them to the backyard of an abandoned factory. As it stopped and Beena and Dhara rushed out to run away from there, to their horror Daljeet came in front of them with a couple of more guys.
Beena was beaten and slapped heavily as she tried to save Dhara from being taken away by Daljeet. She fell down unconscious while Dhara was raped one by one by three men.
While they were about to kill Dhara, 5 Policeman arrived at the scene and arrested Daljeet and one of his friend, while the third one managed to escape. Apparently the milk man had informed police about what he saw.
Dhara laid on the floor in a pool of blood and Beena was lying unconscious few meters from there. They were immediately taken to the hospital where Dhara took her last breath.
Daljeet didn’t show any sense of guilt while he was being beaten up by Police. He liked to break law often but this time there was a solid case against him. News of Daljeet being arrested spread immediately in the Jail where he was kept. Out of the 3 Cell Mates where Daljeet was kept, one of them named Dayal, was about to be released next week. His term was shortened by 2 years because of his good behavior in the jail.
A Day after Daljeet was locked up with them, during the dinner Dayal was told that Daljeet was the son of Santosh. Dayal couldn’t believe what he just heard and his world turned upside down completely. Though he was serving a jail term for a murder of one of his old partner, he knew he was the one who had raped Santosh along with 2 of his friends. In fact he was the one who planned for it one night when they were heavily drunk in the bar.
He couldn’t breathe and refused to go to his cell that night. But he had no choice. As he was about to reach his cell, with his heart full of guilt, someone called his name. “Dayal, someone there to see you.”
Dayal was surprised, who could be there to see him at this time. He quickly went and saw his wife weeping badly and bandaged. “What happened? “, he asked his wife.
“Our daughter is no more”, said his wife as she spoke in a weeping voice. “She has been raped and murdered by”….
He knew. He could join the dots. He closed his eyes and asked himself, who is responsible for my daughter’s fate?And he knew the answer, But he didn’t know how he and Daljeet will face each other now..
The vacuum he created in someone else’s life has come back to haunt him. He wished he could kill himself right there. Or go back in time to change few things.