[And when the end of the Kali Yuga comes, men will cast away and neglect their friends and relatives and attendants. And when the end of the Yuga comes, men abandoning the countries and directions and towns and cities of their occupation will seek for new ones, one after another. And people will wander over the earth, uttering frightful and rending cries.]
“Stay away from her.” I hear my father’s shout before I reach near Surekha. His words make my legs stone. What the fuck he is saying?
my father – how can he say this? I chocked. He and some other Sunya catch me before I read her.
“Don’t go near her.” My father says again, clutching my both shoulder, “do you understand what I say?”
“Why?” I’m still in shock.
“You will find it soon.” He says.
Till now all my people on the terrace had gathered behind me. I turn to see Surekha. She scrambles from the floor; her whole face is with scratches and mark of bites, her legs trembling.
My eyes fall on her skirt. It’s revealing her thighs now covered in the blood. My heart ached and my stomach churned. I feel nausea.
“Please don’t kill me.” she starts to plead.
“What?” it shocks me again.
“No one will kill you.” I shout back to her, “why someone will kill you?”
She stares at me for several long seconds. I keep my hands clasped tightly behind my back. Otherwise, I'm sure their trembling would reveal I’m feared. I need to give her courage and if she finds me feared how I can give her what I haven’t.
A voice startles my gaze.
“We have to kill her.” My father says, “We have to…”
Before he can finish I push him hard, making him fall to the ground. Another Sunyas rush to me but my father gets to his feet faster than I have expected and shouted, “We have to kill her.”
“Yes - her.” My people say as if they are monsters.
“Why you fool people want to kill her?” I shout and clench my fist.
“Can’t you see?” my father says, “She is changing.”
“Changing,” I stammer, as the sun burning above, temporarily dazzling me. And then the words dry up in my throat and I nearly choke. “What changing?”
But my father needs not to answer me as I hear Surekha’s cry in pain and turn my eyes to her.
Surekha’s eyes are open, and they are wide with terror but the unusual thing was they are now crisscrossed with red veins as the Devatas have. She's standing on the debris, shifting from foot to foot, as if unable to keep her feet on the ground, she’s looking pale and worried and in strong pain.
I notice her pale miserable body is being webbed with green veins, giving her great pain, making her cry loudly.
For a second I can't even breathe. I'm overwhelmed with her pain--she is here, in front of me, crying, the whole body trembling, in pathetic condition-- and at the same time bolt of fear passes through me as and horror starts drumming through my heart.
“Don’t kill me.” she again shouts, turning toward my people. Her eyes look even bigger than usual and her voice is louder than she has ever.
I wonder how her voice can so loud.
All my people raised the spades and levelers and racks and aim at her as if they want to kill an enemy.
“What are you doing?” I shout, “She is one of us…”
But my people don’t seem to hear me. They advance to her making noise with the tools in their hands.
I’m feeling horrible by it. I’m Feeling miserable as I am unable to anything for her.
“I won’t allow you to kill her.” I grab two of my peoples and push them. They fall to the ground.
Two other Sunyas come to me but I kicked them down and advance to the remaining troop to stop them.
“Don’t move.” I feel the hot blade of curved sword on my neck, “or I will cut your neck.”
I turn back to see a Nirbhaya, hilt of the sword in his hand.
“I don’t fear of death,” I say, which again is against a characteristic of Sunyas.
“Nor do I.”
“You do.” I say, “I have seen the fear in your eyes when that Devata killed one of Nirbhayas.”
“It was anger.”
“Why didn’t you try to kill him?”
“I would have if I can,” he says, “even with my life.”
“You are lying.” I shoot him a death stare.
“Manahar was my friend since childhood.” He says, “Boy, don’t force me to kill you.”
“Okay,” I say and turn to see what my people are doing.
“Don’t do anything stupid or this time Jagapati or I can’t cover you.” He says, but I pretend I’m not listening.
My people are still making noise with their tools, smashing them on the floor.
“Please, father,” Surekha pleads, her lovely voice now pathetic and harsh. I can’t believe that’s the same girl who often sings songs in melodious voice on everyone’s birthdays, “I am a kid, you can’t kill me.”
She starts to say something else, but the rest of her words get lost: Huge, shuddering sobs run through her whole body. Tears glisten in her eyes, dribbles of snot oozes from her nostrils.
My people are looking on, without saying a word, making only noise with tools.
“Please,” she cries, her voice rising in desperation, “Please! Somebody, help me! You can’t do this to me!” She shakes her head, staring at my people like she's never seen them before. They are aliens to her.
Every word of Surekha is like a punch on my face, making me pain, I in my gut feeling I should help her but now I know I can’t.
“Why she is changing?” I ask to the Nirbhaya whose sword is on my neck. I'm equal parts terrified and curious.
“No girl is enough holy to bear the child of Devatas so they die as soon as Devatas rape them.”
“Not holy!” I shouted. My throat feels parched; the words tear at my throat as they come out. “Fuck the Devatas.” I don’t want to speak that name, even to curse them.
Before he finishes I push him, with both my hand. He falls to the ground as soon as my both palms smash in his chest.
Another one tries to draw his sword out but I kick him in the belly and the third one is crash me at the same moment but he falls to the ground, his collision doesn’t affect me.
Then Jagapti is in front of me. He looks at me then, and his face is so full of concern it makes something ache deep inside of me. "Listen, Samrat." He looks into my eyes. "Maybe you don’t trust me but what you are doing isn’t good for you. If you get caught - I mean, if you got caught-" He sucks in a deep breath. "I mean, if anything ever happened to you, I could never forgive myself."
"I trust you," I say, “and I mean it 110 percent but this isn’t time to think about consequences.” I shove him in the chest and he falls to the ground.
The same moment someone grips my body from the back, “don’t.” he shouts but I hit my left elbow in his stomach and as with the blow his head tilts to my shoulder I shove my right elbow into his face. His grip loses and I rush to Surekha, through my people, kicking, and pushing, and knocking them down.
“Don’t come to me.” Surekha shouts when I am about to reach her, “you will die if you touch me.”
“I don’t fear of death,” I say, advancing to her.
“But I do,” she climbs on the railings, “I can’t risk you with my cursed life.” She says and jumps from the railing.
My knees become water and they buckle, I am on my knee, now punching the floor with both my hand, shouting and cursing, sobbing and crying.
I stand, walk to where Surekha was before a while and look over the edge. Her body is on the pavement below us; Surekha, her arms, and legs bent at awkward angles, her hair spread in a fan around her head. My stomach sinks as I stare at her dead body.
The scene in front of my eye is terrible. It’s a pure horror - one of the worst things I've ever seen.
For a moment I can't move or do anything but stand there, breathing hard, staring. I feel a numbness creeping over me. It’s too painful. I close my eyes but the image of the dead girl isn’t going.
For a second I think what if she was Padhma. And a shudder passes through me, an intense shudder of the pain.
I open my eyes and stare at the body. Her beautiful eyes are open and her neck is twisted at an unnatural angle. for a second a fantasy of she is alive and just resting passes through my mind because from the way her cheek was resting against the floor makes me imagine she has lain down to take a nap.
But I know I’m wrong about her nap.
What the fucking blood is doing everywhere around her head?
She is dead. I wish I’m avatar like my teacher says and I have a prayer of reviving her and making her alive as she was before when we promised her security at her hut.
But I’ve no magic like Devatas. I wish she is alive but nothing happened. She doesn’t move and I know she won’t move. Then my eyes sting, and the scene in front of me goes watery, colors and shapes sloshing together.
For a second I think I must be crying, and I'm so sad and so angry that I forget everything - forget about my people around me, forget about the Nirbhayas standing there, and the thought of Surekha over-weights my every sense.
I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand, and my vision sharpens again.
I stay there for a few minutes until I'm a little bit calmer. Part of me wants to jump down and end this miserable life but part of me says if you die who will fight for your people.
I can't; I couldn't; I could never. I have no choice. I have to keep myself alive.
I sink to my knees, sobbing. I turn away. The longer I watch her, the more likely I am crying, and I don’t want to cry more.
Crying won’t help. I know the fact.
I tell myself: Don’t cry, be strong.
That is how things work here. We are Sunyas and we do dangerous labour things and die. Sunyas die and we move on to the next dangerous work.
The sooner this fact sinks in you, the better chance you have at surviving. I tell myself.
I’m unable to convince myself. No, she doesn’t deserve death.
She shouldn’t die. It wasn’t an accident, at all. It was a murder.
I tell myself - I will move on.
I picture Surekha’s body on the pavement, and a shudder goes through me. I remember my father promising her ‘nothing bad will happen to her’. My lips pursed, I walk away from the roof’s edge but I know the hollow feeling in my stomach will never go away, not until I’m dead or my people are free from such sufferings.
Then I feel my knuckles sting. I look down to examine them, my hand shaking. All of the skin is peeling off, and they are bleeding. I have hit the ground hard while mourning.
I run down with troop of Nirbhaya, and then the troop of the Nirbhaya stops. We all gather near Surekha’s body. I’m watching it from so close, the crowd of my people isn’t obstructing my way, and every one stands a few feet from one another, so there is enough space for me to go to the front.
Two of Nirbhaya stand near her body.
I’m unable to see Surekha.
A pale face, their eyes are open and empty. Dark inanimate eyes are telling me I’ve come here trusting you and your father and you let them kill me.
You are responsible for my death. The dead body is shouting at me. That’s how I feel then, trying to remember how to breathe, unable to speak, totally choked with emotion.
My father comes near me and pulls me tight to his side. I want him to stay away but I can’t say that or maybe I need his body to keep myself steady.
Her nose has a high arch, a narrow bridge. Her lips are green. She isn’t looking human corpse. She is a half human corpse and half creature. My eyes burn with the heat, my lungs burn, my breaths shatter. Surekha.
With her something inside me is dead. My chest is so tight, it suffocates me. I can’t breathe. I sink to the ground. My father sits near me. The stone is rough under my body. I hear something, a memory of sound. Surekha’s crying in her hut. That day she didn’t want to come beyond the wall. She shouldn’t come.
I press both my palms to my chest and rock back and forth to free the tension in my chest. I see the parted lips of Surekha. It reminds me how sweet she sings in every festival of Sunyas. Her songs block my ears. I feel the sweetness of her sound. She is a good singer – she was a good singer.
A sob rose inside my chest when I think her as ‘was’ instead ‘is’.
Nirbhaya leader Jagapati has brought a large transparent bag to put the body in. My people are standing, emotionless as if they knew her never.
I feel pity for them and run inside the building.
to be continue...