[I as Krishna had many friends: Mandalibhadra, Bhadravardhana, Subhadra, Gobhata, Yaksendra, Bhata, Virabhadra, and Bhadranga who were older than me thus, they try to protect me from any danger. My parents love me very dearly. For them, I was many millions of times more important than their own life. My parents were frightened that Kansa would kill me; they engaged these friends to protect me. A boy named Vijayksha, son of Ambika-Devi who was my nurse was the leader of these friends. Ambika-Devi had got boon from Parvati as that strong and powerful son only to protect me.]
The day is commotion.
A troop of the Nirbhayas search for everyone and in one and a half hour they find out about missing persons – their leader Nirav and two of his sidekicks are missing.
They try to search in tunnel seven but it’s impossible as the explosion has collapsed the tunnel and debris has blocked every way to enter inside. More than ten Sunyas has worked to remove debris for at least three hours but at last Jagapati decided to end the search. Now he is the only leader there and the troop of the Nirbhayas is following his orders.
When the night fall over us, troop of the Nirbhayas distribute food packets to everyone.
“Find out any safe place inside the building and spend the night,” Jagalapti says after we finish the food, “any room, hall or wherever you feel it’s safe.”
My father’s experience again helps us. He knows how to get a safe place. He leads me to a tunnel. It reads tunnel 3. We find out a double door room.
“It’s safe.” He says and opens the door.
As I enter inside my father closes the door to the room behind me, we are alone. I’ve not seen such room before. The place is a mess, webbed with cobwebs and coated with dust. Any window has no glass just the safety bars are visible, perhaps to show the room – half of the iron bars are broken, the remaining half is bent or rust.
In a corner of the room is a metal table, size of a small cot, covered in the rust.
I find a place in a corner to give rest to my exhausted limbs. I don’t know why but I want to be alone. I don’t talk with my father and as is he knows what I want he doesn’t try conversation. He uses his bag as a pillow and stretches his legs towards the old metal table.
What happened today is troubling me. I can’t find sleep in my eyes. As soon as I close my eyes the images of Nirav and his two men emerge in my eyes and chase the sleep away from my eyelids. I have friends to cheer me up but not here. Most of them are in the wall.
I lay staring at the ruined ceiling, wondering if I’ve ever sleep again. Every time I close my eyes, the image of Nirav putting the sword on my father fills my mind.
I know I’ve never forgotten this moment, not until I stop breathing or lose my memory.
Then my thoughts divert to the Nirav and Jagapati. Why I m not as brave as them? Why I can’t kill Nirav, even when my knife was on his neck?
Hours later, deep in the night, I’m still awake.
I want to escape this nightmare but I can’t. I want to cry but I can’t. I want to scream but I can’t. I want to be free but I can’t. I want to be like Nirbhayas. I want to be brave and daring like them. In the last few days, I’ve faced the greatest fear of my life. That teenage girl’s killing in the train, clearing the blood – I can feel the smell of it still on my hand and in my fingernails. The lightning storms were horrible, my people died in the storm. And today – it was the greatest fear – they were about to kill us. They would have killed us if Jagapati wouldn’t have helped us.
I wrap one of my hands over my head and shut the eyes tight, removing every thought. The night feels empty and silent and then my mind falls silent and the night covers me.
Hours later – or I don’t know how long – all I know is someone is waking me up – and he can’t be anyone except my father. We have shut the door behind us.
“Samrat,” my father is near me, shaking me awake. I take several seconds to get back my ears and my eyes from the night.
My eyes open, focus on my father’s face. “Let me sleep,” I say.
“We aren’t in the wall,” he says, “This isn’t our hut. We are beyond the wall.”
His words chase away sleep from my eyes – beyond the wall – I’m beyond the wall – I think and my mind isn’t empty like night.
“I thought you’d want to know.” He says.
I rub my eyes and prop myself on elbows, “what?” I yawn.
“Why Nirav try to kill you,” I hear – it’s not my father.
It’s a different voice. I look at the door – it’s open now.
I look over my father and see Jagapati standing, his hands crossed against his chest.
I instantly find my grogginess disappearing, and now fear and curiosity are in my mind – replaced by the grogginess. I don’t know what his face brought – fear, curiosity, wonder or joy.
“Get on your feet boy,” Jagapati leans over me, “we need a talk.”
I stand up, looking at him. “Why not here?”
“This place isn’t safe to talk.” He says.
He leads us out the room, the tunnel no.3. Now we are in a hallway type are. The walls around us are made of huge stone blocks and the ceiling is ruined, the area is paved and we are climbing down. I feel like I’m descending deep into the heart of the earth.
He lights the torch, “this is where we’ll talk.” He says.
I run my fingers through my hair and remove tangles of the night, smoothing it into a bun, “what talk?”
“Just one question…”
He says and I feel my pulse in my throat.
Looking my fear, his face, I see, wears a nice smile which I haven’t seen on any Nirbhaya’s face before. “Do you know why he wanted to kill you?”
I say, “no, but how do you know he wanted to kill us?”
“Look, boy, no questions about me.” he presses his lips tight, but of course, doesn’t show any anger.
“I don’t know why.” I admit”
“He knew about you because you behaved like an idiot,” he says, “and I know he will kill you because I’ve seen him observing you when you were helping that girl in the lightning storm.” He looks at my father, “and then that girl, Kajal she confirmed his doubt by doing artificial breathing.”
“Why he was observing me?” I don’t want to ask it but the words slide out, “why he was keeping watch over me?”
“Because he doubts you are not what you are,” Jagapati says, in a sharp voice.
“But, I’m what I’m.” I say, “I’m nobody special….” I want to say more but the words dry up in my mouth as I see look on his face.
He doesn’t answer me but looks at my father, “is this all you are doing to save your son?”
“I’m sorry.” My father says and I wonder why he is asking apologies. “I should be more careful.”
I want to tell my father ‘do not say sorry’ or ask him ‘why you are saying sorry to him’ but my lips can’t form words. Speaking seems me like to climb to the top of a broken building.
“Don’t be sorry,” Jagapati says, still talking to my father. “You all are acting like you are not Sunyas,” he clenches his firsts, “I haven’t thought you will be too foolish to reveal what you are.”
“Why do you care for us?” I dare to ask, gathering all my courage.
“I said no question about me,” he asks, “didn’t I say?”
I nod – YES. In other tunnels the crickets are singing their song, sometimes continues for minutes and some time has temporarily pause of some seconds. The night is cold and the air is thick still I feel like it is thin and I can’t breathe.
“And I mean it.” He says, staring me. “Tell me if you have any weird dream?”
Goosebumps pop up all over my arms when he says this. How does he know I’ve weird dreams?
Can I trust him?
Can I trust a Nirbhaya leader?
Don’t tell anyone. My mother’s warning pulses in my head.
“You can trust me,” he says, He shrugs ever so slightly next to me. “I’m not one whom you should hide.”
I can trust him – my heart says.
He saved our lives. I can trust him.
“They are incomprehensible,” I say.
“What do you see?”
“A giant tower, and a circular maze and many weird things which I’ve never understand.”
“Tell me whatever you can remember about the dreams,” he says, “one of Nirbhaya leader has tried to kill you secretly and we’ve to make bloody sure it never happens again.”
A little shock pulses through me as he speaks.
“I don’t know any more…-” I start but he doesn’t let me finish.
“I know it’s hard to remember but you need to remember it otherwise you are dead,” he says, “there is something different about you and if you can remember a little more we can figure it out.”
As another shock pulses through me I say, “sometimes I see the tower rotating around me, sometimes I find myself rotating around tower, sometimes I’m in prison and sometimes I see a man – not actually a man- his face is human face but his body is half human and half looks like it’s made of metal – some shining metal which I’ve never seen outside the dream.” I’m overwhelmed by a surge of anger, “fine, tell me how do we going to figure out something by such weird dreams?”
“this will be enough,” he says, “there is someone beyond the wall who wants what is between your ears,” he rolls his eyes, “your brain, they want to go inside it and we are trying to get them away from you.”
He falls silent for a while, and I think maybe he's done with my dream but he looks me in the face for a while and says, quietly. “Talk.”
I hesitate and look at my father.
“You can tell him anything,” he says, “he knows all about you.”
I stare at him I don’t know how long but After what seems like forever I gather myself and start talking again, this time in a voice so quiet Jagapati has to shift nearer to me just to hear “I… I can’t say I’m sure,” I hesitate but continue, I don’t know why but my voice is like a whisper. “I feel like I’ve been beyond the wall before and I’ve seen the tower and I’ve seen that metal man before I saw him in the dream.” I look at him, hoping that’s enough but he says, “And?”
“And feel I’m familiar with him like an old friend or an old enemy but we know each other.”
Jagapati doesn’t ask more, his face is blank, perhaps white. He examines me for a second with the same face, not hiding he is shocked.
“Now listen carefully what I say,” Jagapati is whispering now. He closes his eyes, opens them again and sighs. “Act likes a Sunya, no matter someone is dying in front of your eyes don’t try to help.” He says, “Can you understand?”
Out loud I squeak, “Yes,” I nod even though another words are rising and lifting inside of me, bubbling up like fresh water sprung in the water channel – who are you and why do you help us?
My insides are lifting and fluttering.
“Stay behind other. Do what others are doing. Don’t do anything that makes you different than others. Don’t talk with anyone about this, not even with your people, your friend or girlfriend if you have any.”
I keep silence- I’ve nothing to say. I’m not supposed to ask him anything about him.
"You have to take care of your son. I just want to see him safe." Jagapati turns at my father.
“I’m trying my best, “my father says, “but I don't know how long I could..."
I feel my father’s words come out his mouth, and here they are, floating on the darkness around.
“I’ll help you,” Jgapati says, “I’ll show up when you need me.”
Then he is shaking hand with my father.
He turns to me again, “I don’t want any doubt from you,” he says, his hand on my shoulder, “I am your protector and I want to keep you safe.”
I just nod, my eyes looking his face and my mind racing to know who and what he is.
To be continue.....
Follow Vicky Trivedi on
Facebook : Vicky Trivedi
Instagram : author_vicky