YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW---- BINDI (PART 5)
YESTERDAY: Mami-sa was at her wits end. Mama-sa was always ill, and his sister's death had hit him so hard, she did not like to disturb him. But as the only relatives for the poor girl, it was their responsibility to do something. She had tried, her Bholenath knew she had tried everything---if she fed Paro, she would eat. If her cousin Nandini took her to play in the sand-dunes or to visit a friend, Paro would go along, quietly, like a shadow. But she would not speak, laugh, cry, feel. She would stand where she was placed, sit where she was told, sleep when she was asked to.
But she would not REACT. Mami-sa had tried to send Paro to the local school, only to find out she would go and sit silently in the schoolroom, her mind so far-away, the teachers despaired of her ever learning anything. She had given Paro chores around the house, and would come back hours later to find the child had not moved from one spot. Several bhabhi-sas had told her to use punishment, to hit the girl, yell at her, shock her into reacting. Anything, to get her to move out of the state of frozen shock and total silence she had sunk into after her parents' death. But Mami-sa's soft heart would not allow her to abuse the orphan left on her hands.
Today, she had left Paro sitting and staring out of the window, and she had not wanted to leave the traumatized little girl behind. But a new arrival at Birpur, and that too at a neighbour's house was not a daily event. The rumors were that Mohini bai-sa had brought her granddaughter from Jodhpur to live with her, and in some ways for Mami-sa, this unknown little girl was her last hope for Paro. Paro had become so silent, so alone, only a friend could get her though her trauma, and Nandini, no matter how much she tried, was simply too old to be a companion to a ten year old child. She prayed to Bholenath for a miracle as she entered Mohini bai-sa's house.
Hours later, Mami-sa came back home. Paro had not moved from the window, so she was the first person to spy the little girl skipping along behind her Mami-sa, a bright eyed, inquisitive little bird of a girl, chubby cheeked and pretty as a picture. Paro's eyes followed the brightly dressed stranger until she disappeared into her Mami-sa's bedroom. Loud peals of laughter came next.
Paro frowned. Her Mama-sa, her Mami-sa and even Nandini bai-sa's laughter had not filled this house since Paro's parents had left it. Why were they laughing? Who was this? Paro could hear a fluting voice, high pitched, happy, floating above the merriment.
The four people enjoying pakoras and jokes in Mami-sa's bedroom looked up to see a forlorn little girl, stick thin, standing at the doorway. Paro hesitated, clearly unsure of her welcome, her eyes painfully fixed on the brightly dressed stranger on the bed. Mama-sa was about to say something, when the little stranger cheerfully spoke first "Meri naam Bindi hai. Tu Paro hai na? Meri nayi saheli? Tuj ko milna tha, chale aya! Imli khayegi?"
(Eng: "Yes, drinking the spit, getting a tummy ache, and then the baby")
"Bindi, tu hi yeh larki ko samjha! Meri koi baath hi nahi maanti!" An exasperated Nandini, dressed in her bridal finery, commanded as she pointed at Paro, sobbing on the bed. "Mennu jaana hai mandap pe, aur yeh ladki anap-shanaap bol raha hai!"
Bindi asked, semi-seriously--"Kyu nahi? Menne teri behen jaisa hu, haq hai mennu, teri mard par...saali adha gharwali hote hai Paro! Dekh legi tu--- teri woh mujhe bhi apnaygi! Meri sevah karega woh!!"
TOMORROW: Aman had warned him about the state of the body. The combination of being savaged by animals, and the late recovery of the corpse had left almost nothing behind for identification. The body had been found on the sand dunes, though, so clearly someone had disposed of the corpse, and left it so that would be hard to trace to the original murder area.
During interrogation after interrogation, whenever Rudra tried to question Paro about the terrorism case against her, she would always question him right back about her missing friend. In nothing else was she so adamant, so filled with anger and fear---normally quiet and frightened, when she spoke about Bindi and begged to be taken to her, she showed real emotion, real loss. When he had seen Paro having nightmares about her friend for the third night in a row, Rudra had finally understood that she was not pretending. He understood that there really was a Birpuri girl who's death the Thakur had blamed the Army for.
The BSD had alerted all local area police about the missing girl, and when the body of Bindali Ujala Singh finally turned up in a remote village many kilometers form Birpur, Rudra had known about it immediately. But for identification, Paro would have to see the body.
Aman had been working the missing girl's case. Now, he waited with Rudra outside the morgue. Paro was being brought from the cell, but Rudra had gone in to see the body, and after coming out, even his normally expressionless face looked blanched and sick. He was so disturbed, for the first time since he had joined BSD, Aman found his commanding officer showing some human emotion--uncertainty.
Rudra was hesitating about letting Paro come to do the ID. Showing Bindi's body to anyone not hardened by war and death seemed to be a cruelty even the famously cruel Major Ranawat was not prepared to commit.
When Paro came, trembling like a leaf in the wind, Rudra walked upto her, and holding her by the shoulders, he gently told her the truth. Aman watched as Paro fell to the ground, sobbing, and the Major, still holding her, sank to the floor with her. Oblivious to his staring junior, Rudra held Paro in his arms, allowing her to grieve, to mourn her friend. He held her as a storm passed through the young girl, murmuring words of comfort as Paro wept, wailed, beat her chest in ravaging grief. Minutes passed.
Finally, Paro raised a blotchy face, and without even realizing what she was doing, she held tightly to the arms holding her. "Mennu dekhna hai. Nahi dekhungi to Bindi bura man jayegi---usko alvida bolna hai."
Somehow, that seemed much less important, right now. His mission, his junoon, the patriotic fervor---it all paled before the loss of one simple, loyal young village girl.
Looking at Paro, sitting with her head bowed before him, Rudra suddenly remembered that he had, himself, met Bindi the first time he had met Paro. Pity gripped his heart as he recalled a bright face, loyal eyes, and a kind girl watching over her best friend. Bindi. A simple life, an unimportant life. But to Paro her life,and to Rudra her death, meant a great deal.
The Thakur, that murdering bas***d would pay, Rudra swore, as he sat quietly next to a sobbing Paro, mourning a girl he did not know. He owed this girl, this Bindi bai-sa that much. There had been no way for Rudra to save Bindi bai-sa in this lifetime. But he would get her killer, avenge her death, give her body the burial it deserved, and her soul the justice it craved.
This much service, this "sevah" he, Rudra Pratap Ranawat swore he would offer Paro's Bindi. Because now, from this moment on, Bindi---that laughing girl in his jeep's rearview mirror----Paro's Bindi was also his own.
THE YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW SERIES-ENJOY!
Edited by napstermonster - 2014-06-13T05:55:59Z
Topic started by napstermonster
Last replied by dprover