Sunday, 30 May 2021

Sakshi Bhatnagar, Prose 500 2021 Longlist

The Coercived Abscondment


Palaash and Irfaan, come, the breakfast is ready. Today I have made poori bhaaji.

Palaash and Irfan were childhood buddies.

While Palaash stayed with his mother, Irfaan was an orphan.

That is the reason, Irfaan had always called Palaash’s mother as Ammi Jaan.

As Palaash and Irfaan were relishing the breakfast, news on the riots in their beautiful Kashmir echoed in the room.

Irritably Palaash turned off the radio but his mother was worried.

Soon the riot creating crowd reached them. Cracking window glasses, firelights, people’s screams filled the entire village. On the cold freezing night, people were dragged out of their homes. Palaash and his mother too weren’t spared. 

The morning sun didn’t do any good either. There were deplorable bodies of people. Palaash, dragged himself to locate his mother only to find her recklessly succumbing to the injuries. Unable to bear the trauma of his mother’s sudden demise, he lost his consciousness. 

Palaash found himself in posh hospital on regaining consciousness. By his side, he saw elderly couple sitting whose eyes were glowing on seeing him fine.

How are you feeling beta? The soft voice reminded him of his mother and he started crying. 

Don’t cry beta. All of us lost everything on that fateful night. We found you wounded and unconscious and brought you here. We both will take care of you. 

Ten Years Later,

Palaash , now a successful police officer, was getting ready to go on a mission, to Kashmir.

Palaash are you sure you are going there? His mom sounded worried.

Don’t worry Ma, I will take care of myself. 

Not just a mission, he had his own reasons to go. 

This time Irfaan has to answer my questions, thought he.

He stopped near a posh hotel. 

Excuse me, I wish to speak to your owner. Palaash ordered the receptionist showing his I card.

And within moments, both Irfaan and Palaash were face to face.

Irfaan was speechless. He almost didn’t recognize Palaash. 

His eyes were down with shame. 

Palaash, please let me explain.

Explain what!

That how you were sneaked behind the wall and let those criminals kill my mother whom you lovingly called Ammi Jaan. 

Irfaan couldn’t take it anymore.

He started telling his side of story…….

The moment crowd approached the village, I came running to save you and Ammi Jaan. But as I reached there, the situation had already worsened. While I couldn’t save Ammi Jaan, my next thought was to save you. I requested one couple who just lost their son and his family to save you and helped you all escape. 

I hadn’t slept peacefully since that night. Those nightmares still scare me. You only saw me sneaking before being unconscious, but I have sent those people to help you.

Please forgive me my friend,this world is already full of hatred. Let’s just try and spread love.

Finally the barrier of religion between the friends was lifted only with true and pure friendship to remain.

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