From behind that window,all what had ever caught my fancy was giving me heebie-jeebies. The police was pushing everyone indoors to strange houses. The commandoes were being airlifted. The whole area was being cordoned. The situation looked no ordinary. After a while, the chaos looked settling outside , but it was welling up on inside.
“How can you forget your phone while going out.” Dev would often scold. His voice was ringing in my ears. Shouldn’t I have cared more about his words ?? I had driven all alone to Kathua without phone.
I turned to look at the palatial house that I was pushed into. The house that I so wished to own every time I passed by on our family trips. It was as aesthetic as I had always imagined it to be. But in-spite, it urged me to run to the safety of my home in Pathankot.
In desperation, I laboured hard with the television, but the black box just wont buzz. I was rummaging around anxiously when something crackled. After much shuffling, the vintage radio tuned in “As per the reports, a large group of terrorists have entered Kathua. The city is on high alert. Its borders have been sealed. The national commando forces are on the move. The city has been placed under curfew. All the citizens are requested to stay indoors and inform the authorities if anything or any person looks suspicious.’
I felt a tight knot forming in my stomach.
“Hell!! Why did I fight with Dev this morning. All he wanted was a nice home cooked breakfast from me which I hardly make. And how could I leave Ivy behind while stepping out of the house. She has never stayed with her dad this long. How could I shun them both to suffer. How will the duo be managing on its own.” My every breath was laced with regret.
The soliloquy was suddenly interrupted by the sounds of three successive gigantic blasts.
That was exactly the time when one needs company, so to know that you are not the only one facing the plight. But I had none. So my mind started churning thoughts by dozens.
“Could bombs be of real ??
Am I going to die alone in an unknown house away from my family.
No, no !! I cant die here. There is still so much left to be done.
Shouldn’t I have apprised Dev of all my investments before? And those insurance papers that are rotting in my cupboard for my signature. And my ailing mom, to whom I have been postponing my visit for so long. An apology to Jiya, my childhood friend is also long due.”
Good Lord! Please give me one chance to set things right. I want to die in peace.”
The emotional baggage got me very heavy in head. I shut my eyes only to open them to the jarring morning sun the next day.
Suddenly some faint footsteps caught my ear. With every passing second the sound was becoming louder and clearer, just like my heartbeat. A thud on the door and I was sitting stone cold at the gun point.
From his appearance I knew he was not from the forces. Looking at his old and shabby attire, unkempt beared face and the rucksack, I meekly prayed for him to be anyone but a terrorist.
“Hands up and move to that corner”, he howled gesturing with the gun.
Then he took to the other corner of the room and upended his rucksack. Like a glutton he emptied in quick succession what looked like bottles of honey, dry fruits and butter.
What followed next were the visuals of death further weakening me in my heart. He arranged mortars like precious gems in a small bag. To me death looked certain then. Beautiful faces of Dev and Ivy flashed before my eyes as my lips longed for the parting kiss.
Hours passed. I sat frozen like a mannequin shedding streams of tears watching the gadgets of death.
Suddenly his phone rang “Yes sir, yes sir…..Don’t you worry. I will kill hundreds of those bastards before I die.” “But my family?”
After a brief moment, he made a call “Hello my younger brother. Promise me that you will always study well and take care of our elder sister…. Where is she?..Greetings sister. I have talked to doctor Ali for your operation. You will no longer be wheel-chair bound. Large amount has been transferred to your account. You will never have to worry about expenses anymore. Just check the account and message me instantly. Goodbye..”
He waited for sometime untill his phone beeped and a faint smile touched his lips.
As he adjusted the rifle on his shoulder, I knew my time was near. With a stern glance he walked upto me dragging me towards the main door.
But before we could reach the door, it was already taken. There were commandos. Probably his calls were intercepted.
In a rapid motion, one of them engaged him in firing and the other one pushed me towards the other room. I rushed into the room shutting the door behind curling myself under the bed. After almost 20 minutes of firing, there was silence. The man was dead. His last wishes still unfulfilled.
“Hello”, Dev answered the call half-asleep.
“Honey, get up its already 8″, I said,” I have made your breakfast, its on the table. Make sure you feed Ivy before leaving for office.”
“Me ??? But you do that everyday.”
“I had to leave for office early today. You should also know how to take care of your child.”
“Yeah, I will try.” Dev replied.
“Dont forget to take the signed insurance papers from the desk. And I am planning to invite Jiya for dinner tonight. Will you be back in time?”
“Yes. But why are you in such a rush today?” Dev sounded perplexed.
“Who knows when a nightmare comes true.” I replied.