He is a jailbird who if killed while on duty will not be memorized as a martyr.
By Dr. Rahul Tyagi
He, with a smoldering cigarette in his right hand, pressed the button on the elevator panel, and shone it crimson. With a quick glance towards his right, he puffed on the cigarette butt.
Striking the butt on the floor he squashed it beneath his shoe soles and artlessly leapt towards his left. Clearing both sides with his scrutinizing scan, he adjusted his hat to cover more of his reflection.
He managed to pace about the foyer; all the while he had his left hand buttressed over his coats right inner pocket.
The light over the panel turned green and the elevator shutters gave way to some children glowing with joy. He frisked the kids away and got into the lift. Suddenly he was alone again.
He lifted his right hand and played with the panel a bit before turning the button showing floor no.3 red. The lift moved, he backed up his stance by retreating half a foot; he looked up towards the fan attached to the top of the lift.
Both hands in his trouser pockets, he placed his stare back to the floor, assured. He felt his heart beat; he felt it all the time.
The blood in his body started gushing towards his heart, again he looked towards the roof. Now he was smiling, he looked back towards the panel that was now showing floor no. 3. The doors opened and he quickly scanned the entire area.
Tapping his right foot once, he pulled his overcoat collars to brace against his ears, and came out of the lift. Turning over his heels he strode towards his left and approached a door.
He retrieved his gloved hand from his trouser pocket and pressed the doorbell. There was silence for a moment and then he heard footsteps on the timber flooring.
Dimness skulked over the eyehole and the door opened, a lingering stature appeared to meet him. He recovers an envelope from his inner pocket and shows the border of it from his coat’s collar.
The door opens with a slight creak and the giant guise extends his hand, on which the envelope was placed. No words traded, the door closed with a soft blow.
He whisked his temple, daubing sweat beads over his collar. He turned his heels towards the elevator, and the lift opened to hail him as he approached.
He saw a small boy standing in the lift with a packet of books tied tightly to a belt hung over his shoulder. He smiled, heaving a deep sigh; he placed his gloved hand over the boy’s other shoulder.
A brisk laughter escaped from his lips, which was heard as a cough. The boy looked up to meet him in eyes; he looked down at the boy and smiled encouragingly.
The doors opened and a mass of people acknowledged the sight of a small boy smiling jauntily. He placed his hand over the boy’s backside and picked him up across the crowd of people.
He asked him his name; the boy bashfully twirled and ran across the floorboards. He chased the boy with a boyish grin on his countenance. Catching hold of the boy’s lapels he pulled him into his warm cuddle.
The boy snatched away with a wrench and said, ” Bharat, is my name but my Bapu calls me Rajah”. He took a bunch of balloons from a hawker and offered it to the boy. “What a beautiful name you’ve got Rajah. I have a boy whose name is Ashoka.”
The boy glanced at the wall clock over the wall and ran toward the gate. The convict stretched out his gloved hand towards the boy, slightly parted his lips but couldn’t call out the boy’s name.
He looked up towards the sunny skies. Smiled with a boyish jollity and gamboled his way back home.
Ashoka, his son was shot at by the state police force in an attempt to diffuse a riot, they shot several rounds blindly into the mob in order to dissipate the hubbub.
That was the last he saw of his son, when he fell on the soil with confusion in his eyes. He himself was taken away by the police force and put in a shady cell.
Now he works for the police force as an illicit agent and gathers exceptional proceeds for the police force. He is a jailbird who if killed while on duty will not be memorized as a martyr; rather his bereavement will be retired with a whiff of respite.
And if he makes an effort to break away from his obligation he will be put back into police confinement. He, at the moment, goes back home where his little daughter awaits him keenly after an extensive day at school.
This short story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).
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