He removed the last brick. A thin stray light peeped through the hole, dispersing into the pitch black darkness of the cell. David crawled out, one leg at a time and then his head. He opened his eyes and breathed her name, ‘Narayani’.
The words escaped his lips like some mantra, chanted into the fire, carrying the life away by the winds, in a smokey swirl to the skies.
The words escaped his lips like some mantra, chanted into the fire, carrying the life away by the winds, in a smokey swirl to the skies. Narayani was the mother of his only child, his childhood love. He looked at his shabby clothes and smelled his armpits. He definitely needed a bath. He had been tortured and beaten for days. Fifteen years back the judge had sentenced his imprisonment for 20 years. He was already forty-five years old. He would completely rot in prison for the next five years and he knew he had to escape. Narayani had stopped visiting him since five years and he thought these twenty years would pass quickly but two decades is a long time. Too long for him to bear. Beaten up day and night by the convicts, he thought he could bear it somehow…but then Narayani stopped visiting him. He missed her. She never brought his daughter. David did not ask for her to come ever, he did not want his daughter to see him at this sorry state.
He wondered what happened to Narayani. He was walking free, stealing through narrow passages and smiling. He had dived deep into his thoughts and lost track where he was headed. He was completely clueless and the streets looked so different. It seemed like he was treading on an island, filled with creatures he hardly recognized. the only image that cropped up was that of Narayani. She had big eyes and even bigger eyelashes and she was extremely docile. That has what attracted him to her most. She was very economical in the usage of words but every time she spoke, David was charmed. David wondered how would their son look like. He wished his daughter looked like Narayani more than himself.
He looked up at the sky, the sun was still shining bright and he had still not found her. He wondered whether the news of his escape had reached the others yet.He stopped at a local tea stall. A small girl came to take his order. David immediately recognised her as his daughter. She ran into the stall and asked for orders. Like a little bird, she was pure and full of life. David felt like running to her and telling her who he was. He worked up a plan in his head of how he would surprise his family. He fished his hands into his pocket for coins while she held out the glass of tea to David. Just then someone called her and she turned around and answered, “Yes father, I am coming.”
The glass of tea fell from his hands and shattered into a million pieces.
The glass of tea fell from his hands and shattered into a million pieces. Some of the tea fell on her dress and some of it on David’s shoes. She looked up at David with terrified eyes and said, ” I’m going to get you another glass of tea, please wait.” She ran into the stall. David walked close to the stall and peeped inside. Narayani was sitting on a tool with the teapot on fire and her hand resting on her pregnant belly. The man whom the girl addressed as ‘her father’ asked her about the orders and then she took over the work of her mother. The man patted her head and kissed her hands and then escorted Narayani outside the stall. Narayani washed her face as he poured water from the pitcher. Tears fell from David’s eyes as he watched someone else take care of his lover and child. His dreams were over. The coins fell from his hands on the ground. He looked up at the birds.
The sky was crowded with birds making towards their homeward journey. He turned around and started running. He did not want his tears to catch up to his speed. It was time for him to go back where he belonged. People whom he loved most had moved on without him while he was stuck to his miseries. Dusk was nearing, the air was cooler than before. He climbed over the walls and barbed wires and ran towards his hole. The last drop of water trickled down his eyes and he rubbed it with his bare hands and breathed the name of Narayani one last time. Then he removed the brick and disappeared into his haven forever.