Absurdity of the moment under vehement situation
|I love ants, but not the red ones! They are vicious and bite me the moment they climb on me. The black ones are gentler and do not retaliate even when I press them with my fingers and obliterate them.
Today I sit by the window, squashing black ants one at a time while watching the long trail of people passing by outside. I wonder where the entire village is going. Just when I think the exodus is over, I see the tailor on his moped.
“Tailor, tailor” I announce.
Dad stops packing and rushes outside. I hear the brakes screech.
“Where are they?” asks dad.
“Not too far away. You must be mad to stay here any longer. Can’t you see that the entire street is empty? Run away!”
Dad returns and shouts at mom who is standing in a corner. “Why are you standing like a statue? Have you become a half-wit like your son? Did you pack all the jewels? Don’t forget the passports!”
He stares at me for a while and then looks at my sister who is sleeping on a mat on the floor. “He can’t come with us”, he mumbles to himself first and then yells out loud. “This lunatic cannot come with us. He will get us all killed.”
“That is preposterous. He is more a child than her. We can’t leave him alone.” Mom always takes my side ... at least till dad convinces her.
“You will sit on the carrier of the bicycle and hold her. What will he do?” Dad asks mom.
“Can’t we run?”
“Do you think he will run as soon as you tell him to run? Or will you carry your twenty three years old nitwit of a son and run fifteen kilometers?"
They debate for a while and then, mom says, “At least let us not leave him at home. They will find out.” She hugs me and cries.
Dad paces up and down the hall. He always does that when he about to decide something “I will leave him at school. They won’t go there. You get ready and I will be back in ten minutes”
He pedals his cycle faster than ever through the deserted streets, and I sit behind him clutching his shoulder. It is dark by the time we reach the school and dad hustles me into a classroom.
“Stay here and be quiet. Come out only when you see a police jeep. I’ll come back soon.”
We hear the muffled sound of a hundred footsteps and dad opens a window. We see torches glimmering at a distance and slowly approaching us.
Dad runs outside, picks up his cycle and disappears. I sit quietly in the classroom, looking at the lights getting brighter every moment.
Then I hear the footsteps loud and clear like the patter of rain on our rooftop. I peep through the window and look outside.
I see men carrying swords and sticks and they are seething with anger. I see them enter the abandoned houses and come out disappointed.
It is too dark inside and I switch on the lights. The mob turns and looks at the classroom.
“Maybe they will take me to ma” I think.
Soon the mob is inside the room.
A tall man carrying a sword bathed in blood asks me in a gruff voice. “So who are you? A Hindu or a Moslem?” He raises his sword.
Tears roll down my cheek. I go close to the man, pull at his shirt and say, “I want ma. Take me to ma.”
“He can’t be either,” says another. “He is just a mad man.”
They leave and I sit in the classroom and watch the inferno. Our house must be burning too. Dad won’t be happy when he comes back. I spot a trail of black ants rising from a small hole in the desk and moving towards the edge. I’ll squash them all night long till dad comes back.