After hours of rigourous search, the search-party was able to recover “the body” when the yet relentless waters receded. The guilt writ on the survivor’s conscience would cause sleepless nights for years to come.
Few hours Ago:
Sarita stood at the edge of the bridge gazing at the expanse of the liquid blackness below her. Legs trembling, heart thumping, she stood there battling with her emotions. The toddler in her arms added to the conundrum. The wailing of the baby tugged at her heart and she stood motionless, unable to take the plunge.
Raghu was on his way home. It had been a long day and he wished nothing more than to spend the remaining evening with his 2 yr old daughter. Her angelic smile and the warm hug he got, as soon as he entered the house, were his elixir of happiness.
The thought of his daughter waiting expectantly for him made him take the short-cut via the yet unopened bridge. At this late hour he didn’t expect anyone stopping him, the traffic police had stopped guarding the bridge long ago.
It was the wails of the baby, piercing through the silence of the night, that broke his reverie.
She could not go back to that life of misery. The daily physical abuses she could bear, but the recent recurring threats of the husband to sell the baby, for his alcohol money, broke her. No! She would rather die with her baby then lead a meaningless life without her. With that thought, she kissed her baby one last time and jumped off the bridge to be buried in the deep waters.
Just as he fathomed the source of the cries, his eyes caught a woman with a baby in her arms jumping off the bridge. Something stirred inside him. Love, sympathy, courage, who knows? Stopping his vehicle, he hurriedly got out and dived. Maybe, he could still get them out safely.
The icy cold water paralysed her arms and fear finally gripped her as she realised her folly. Her baby was separated from her, the strong currents drifting them further apart. Flailing her still stiff arms, trying to stay afloat, she shouted for her baby, when the presence of another person beside her gave her hope.
He found the baby first, away from the mother, whom he saw in a distance, looking distraught. Swimming against the rapid currents, he reached her and tugged her under his arms, to guide them all to safety.
The waters wanted to engulf them, the currents were ferocious. However much he swam, the banks still looked distant. He was losing stamina and consciousness. But then, a boat and a rope, a ray of hope.
He saw them being pulled on the boat safely. And then a strong current. It knocked the rope away and carried his tired, unconscious body into oblivion. The smiling face of his daughter his last memory, her name in his last breath.
Author’s Note: The story is inspired by the recent news of a Delhi auto driver Pawan Shah, who drowned while saving a woman and her baby. This is my humble tribute to the memory of this brave man.