Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Monsoon Diaries

The Aftermath-A sequel to the story The Deluge.

The Aftermath

She looked at the little cherub through the curtain of tears clouding her eyes. A nurse from the children's home had brought her lovely daughter to her solitary cell for feeding.
Shyna had planned to sneak out of the temporary flood shelter where she had given birth to her child, as soon as the waters receded and the train services resumed. How could she snip off the wings of her innocent daughter before she had even grown them? How could she imprison her even before she had tasted the joy of freedom? She had hoped to reach Delhi undetected, ask her local contacts to get the baby's name added to her passport and fly to safety in America. But what she had not counted was the intelligence acumen of the Indian army.
Her tent and one mobile phone accidentally left behind by Ashraf and Asif while fleeing to escape the deluge, had been found by the army's anti-terror unit while scouring the underbelly of the jungles. Every link had gradually fallen into place and before she could plan her escape, Shyna had been tracked to the flood shelter.
The moment she saw the army commandos stealthily getting down the jeeps at a distance, she realized in a flash that her time was up. Carefully she tied the sleeping baby to her back, picked up her meager quota of food and medicines and sneaked her frail body out of the tent.
A kind Gujarati truck driver noticed a young woman and her infant crying by the puddles on the national highway in the dead of night and offered them lift till the nearest railway station. The poor farm hand mumbled to him in a distinct Bihari accent how she had lost her daily wager husband, all their money and belongings in the deluge. The trauma had led to a premature delivery. Overwrought by her sad tale, he had even offered the grieving woman some money to buy a train ticket to her village so that her daughter could be nurtured in the loving and secure lap of her grandparents.
The desolate railway station enticed Shyna with a promise of some much needed comfort. As she approached the lone bench on the deserted platform, she noticed them!
Even their civilian dresses could not hide the taut bodies and the guns in the pockets of the two army commandos from Shyna's trained eyes. Quickly bending down as if to pick up something, she moved her eyes around the station to find an escape route.
Ladies washroom...the light blinked at some distance.
She entered the dimly lit washroom, thankful for the brief respite despite the stench. It was also time to feed the weak and weary baby who had slept through the journey unmindful of the risks her new mother was taking to save her two weeks long life.
And then she saw a pair of hawk eyes glinting ferociously at her.
The events happened after that in such quick succession that she still struggles to put them in sequence.
It seemed that the commandos had followed her to the washroom and as soon as they heard a gasp, and some muffled screams, they banged the latched door down and pounced at the man clutching the slender neck of the woman.
Ashraf was killed on the spot. Shyna had never been happier seeing a dead body riddled with bullets.
She had surrendered and had turned approver. Her confessions and vital leads led to the arrest of Asif from his secret hideout in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.
Here she was, serving a ten-year sentence, still repentant for the five years of fanaticism and ruthless murders of innocents, but happy for her one year old daughter growing up fine under the tender loving care of the motherly matron of Palna, the children's home and school run by an NGO. She just prayed fervently that God would shower his blessings on her daughter and protect her from carrying any scars from the traumatic experiences of her childhood.
The nurse tapped on her shoulder and broke her reverie....laao, bachhi so gayi hai ( hand over the child now, she is asleep).
The prison door was locked shut suffusing her with an air of happy anticipation of a new beginning.......of the closure of her past, finally! 

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