The summer sun is shining bright but the valley resonates a deafening silence. Beads of perspiration coat my temple, the excruciating pain restrain me from proceeding. Bleeding has intensified, and my vision is blurring too, but I can’t give up. The Azaan from the distant mosque reaches my ears. Staggering, I arrive downhill. All I remember next is the touch of two tiny arms.
“Sahab! It’s been 4days you were unconscious. Drink this. You’ll feel better.” The old man mumbles, handing me the warm drink.
A pair of inquisitive blue eyes gawk at me as I sip the black juice. I gesture but possibly my personality scares her. Every time, her sceptical look renders me curious.
Yesterday I saw her watering the rosebuds. Her features, gestures remind me about her but I know, it’s not possible. The wounds don’t permit walking and she’s frightened to come near me, but I want to speak to her.
I work in the intelligence group of the Indian Army, touring here on a secret mission. Unfortunately, I was hit by a bullet. But these Kashmiris found and rescued me. The old man seems to be her grandfather. But where are her parents?
I feel a little better, at least I can walk.
She is peeking from behind the curtains, her burgundy locks kissing her ruddy cheeks, uncanny resemblances. She’s staring at my gun; I wave, she nods and hurries inside.
“Baba! Rooh is your grandchild? Where are her parents? Why doesn’t she speak?” I bluntly toss my queries at him.
But the old man unwilling to answer serves me the Rogan josh and the buttered bread. I realise there’s much more to the story than it’s visible to the eyes.
The clock struck twelve but I lay sleepless gaping at the ceiling. Sudden clattering disturbs me. I rush to their room; the cupboard looks ransacked, things scattered and Rooh weeping, crouched in the corner.
“Rooh is Jannat’s daughter. Seven years back on that unfortunate day, Jannat waited in that station, alone, you didn’t come. It was only at midnight when I finally asked her to leave. I had to shut the station. The poor girl had nowhere to go. Famished, she fell unconscious.”
“I was helpless. It was an emergency, I couldn’t convey a word… But I did return; searched in the orphanage but, no one knew her whereabouts…”
Ignoring, he continues in a shaky tone,” I brought her here. Rooh is born here. But last year, a plague struck our village. We lost Jannat and the disease rendered Rooh speechless. The doctor says she needs sound medical help…”
“But you never saw me then?…”
Hesitating, he continues, ” We both knew who you are. That name imprinted on your arm. Jannat told us once, how you two had each other’s names, tattooed.”
He hands me Jannat’s belongings, a chest crammed with lost memories. Two little feet stands beside me. She isn’t frightened, anymore. Hugging her tight I promise to give Rooh her voice.
Photo From: Getty Images
This is an entry for the event #twelve #Five00-10 at ArtoonsInn Writers Room.
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