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I will protect you, Mom

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25th October, Friday, 1987, Calcutta

I can clearly see that man’s red, intoxicated eyes as he is leaning over the bar counter, swallowing countless venom through his throat.

How can I forget those eyes?

How can I forget those sleepless nights I had spent in that dark room, combating with my own tears not to fall from my frightened eyes?!

My keen gaze is observing his every action. But he doesn’t know about that. He can’t even think of me following him for the past few days. Now he has become maddened into a deep trance of delightfulness.

A similar, screwed-eyed woman is playing with that man’s hair sitting on his lap. The woman has tried hard to look beautiful in her “barely covered” cloth, but believe me, she has failed. I arched my lip’s corner. She has failed miserably.

I’ve seen only one woman in this world who possesses immense beauty from outside to inside.

And she is …You, Mom.

You look beautiful even in those bruises on your forehead, cheek, lips. You look beautiful even with that blue blood oozing from your nose. You look beautiful even with those scaring bites on your neck. Believe me.

The woman is speaking something in that man’s ear as a devilish smile appears on his face. He nudges her earlobe with his nose while his hands are devouring her exposed thigh. They are busy. Everybody around them is busy. And that is my golden opportunity.

Don’t know how much time I have to wait! I know the time is running out. I have to go. But I can’t retain my task unfinished. Because… I had promised… I had promised you to protect. 

Grey memories start burning in my cold, stagnant eyes, making me even more furious.

You dragged your half-dead body into my darkroom where I spent all the days clenching that broken wheelchair. You threw your body onto my feet and started crying. I couldn’t understand what to do. I heard your soul-scratching scream a few minutes ago while I closed my ears with my palms tightly. I was afraid. My crippled legs started jerking as it wanted to run towards you… to save you.

Slowly, I lifted your chin with my shaky-wonky hands, which couldn’t even hold a spoon. But it had no problem holding your delicate face. I thanked God for that. No matter what physical disabilities he gifted to me, it all got vanished whenever I saw you. Our eyes met. Both of our eyes were glittering with painful beads. We both were crying.

“I…wiiiiidddhhh” my tongue got stuck, came out of my mouth.

With my always shaking, tilted head I tried once again to speak, “I wwwiiidddll…”

I couldn’t. A lump of saliva fell off my mouth, making my tongue even more cemented into that.

Seeing my arduous effort, you took my both carious hands into your gentle palm and kissed it softly as if you already understood what I said.

“My bravest son,” you said with rolling tears, but those dark fingerprints on your neck clogged your voice as a whimper came out from it.

That day I cursed myself. I cursed myself for being a disabled son who couldn’t even protect his mother. I didn’t know how many scars you had all over your body, but those visible blisters been enough to make my assumption.

Why didn’t you run, Mom? Why didn’t you protest? Why didn’t you leave? For me?! So that demon couldn’t harm me in any way?!

You were actually brave, Mom. You were ready to fight for me until your last breath declared its adieu.  

But No! No more pain, sobs, bruises, and blood. No more screams and scars. And no more tortures and tears.

My trances break when that man gets up from his stool and starts adjusting his wrinkled coat, abolishing all the evidence of his notoriety. After all, he has an image in society! How dare anyone can ruin that! He runs his fingers through his spiked hair when that woman says something in his ear.

Oh God, How long I’ve to wait for their drama!

But soon that woman’s face drops when he brushes off her chin with his two fingers. Seems like he has refused her proposal; I arched my lips again. And why not! He has his favorite toy already at home.

He is ready for a delightful play. So am I.

People are busy enjoying their drinks, gossips, and dance. He gets out of the crowd and walks with his unstable, drunken legs towards the lift. I follow him immediately. You know mom, this man exactly looks like my father from behind. Suddenly a front page of a local newspaper flashed in my mind.

“Workers’ leader Kaushik Banerjee’s murdered body has been found on an open road. The investigation is going on- Amrita Bazar Patrika.”

I closed my eyes tightly with both of my sweaty palms. I couldn’t take that anymore, Mom. The person in that picture was punched in the face and gunshot thrice on his chest. Red blood roofed his entire body that a single visible skin was not there. The entire law system was unable to find the culprits behind that heinous murder. I saw my father’s face last time in that picture – he was tranquil.  

I could remember how we used to spend those days. ‘Culprits should be punished’ – it was your only mission that you didn’t notice, your health started to deteriorate. You fought. You spent nights after nights waiting on the police station’s bench and I, leaning my head on your lap. We both used to shiver when the chill wind of winter tore off our skins that made my problems even worse when you comforted me in your weak yet warm embrace, “my bravest son.”

Kunal uncle’s pacifying words were the last ray of hope to us. He promised us to find out my father’s murderer. He helped us a lot. Suhani aunt’s sudden, mysterious death shook him too. So we shifted from our house to his house for his help. In return, he took charge of our alimony.

A clinking sound pulls me out from the lane of memories and I see him entering the lift. Wasting no time, I get myself inside it too, narrowing my body. I don’t have much time. Before the lift reaches the ground floor, I’ve to keep my promise. We both are drunk- one with a liquid poison and the other with the greed of revenge. Both are savoring every moment – how exciting, isn’t it?

He starts nodding the head and humming a song, closing his eyes. The strong fragrance of cologne from his body remembers me that dark, dorm room again.

Don’t know why I was shivering a lot that night. My body was getting colder by the passing time. This same experience happened a few months ago. The excessive rush of blood was rupturing my veins. My dim voice tried to call you, mom several times – but you didn’t come. “Mo… Moollllmmm.” Ah! I couldn’t. The poly of spittle made my mouth stagnant – tears were rolling down from my cheeks.

What was my fault, dear God? I had trust in you throughout my life. No one could break my faith’s castle even when you snatched my father deliberately; made my mom helpless and me a fragile lame. My hurt was thumping like a stabbed bird. He might sense that, because he came into my room that night, for the first time after three years. His strong and shrill fragrance filled the entire room when he stood at the door projecting his gigantic structure. His each gradual step was turning my fluid blood into solid rock. He continued pacing, like a hungry Hyena. The fire was emitting from his eyes, which could burn my tiny stature, easily.

But I couldn’t be weak! How could I be? That was my last chance to keep my promise before my body turned into a lifeless object. So I raise my head slowly and looked firmly into his eye. My naïve stare was insignificant under his igneous gaze, but I wasn’t afraid. Pressing my hanging tongue, I threw a question mark on his humanity. How could a person be drawn in such a retrogressive path? Mom used to tell me stories of demons. Were they more gruesome than the person standing in front of me?!

 I didn’t question for a long. Before I could request him to free my mom forever, a heavy kick hit my groin and I fell fiercely from the wheelchair, banging my head against the wall. After that, all I could hear was a spine-chilling laughter and then… all black.

7… 6… 5…

The vengeance starts thickened in me with the lift passing each floor. I’m standing so close to him that my warm breath is touching his collar. But he is unaware of all those facts. And why not! His boastfulness has made him blind completely. I slightly place my one hand on his shoulder. He stops singing for a moment. He may have sensed something! But no, in a while he starts humming again, proving me wrong.

Not wasting any time, I snail my hand from his shoulder to neck and grasp it with all of my strength. My shaky hands are not shaking anymore! My weak grips are not sweating anymore! What peace! I’m seeing myself on the verge of victory. He is fretting. His body wasn’t prepared for this sudden aggression. His brain isn’t getting enough oxygen to process the entire thing. His eyes have gotten bigger and wine red – tears of pleading are falling from it- the way it used to fall from my eyes. I let out a spine-chilling laughter. Victory! I did it. I can hear my mom’s howling voice; see my father’s blood-mixed, dreadful face, and sense Suhani aunt’s pleading for mercy before her “sudden-mysterious death” – all, now on his face.

He stops fretting his hands, body, and legs, slowly.  Calmness has prevailed between us. He is still – so am I! A small bid of salty water falls from my eye. The door of the lift has opened with a soft sound. I get out from it, leaving his bloodless-whitish body inside.

The cool breeze of mid-night is touching my teary eyes and sucking its entire grief inside of it. I’m walking through a half-light–half-darkness path towards my destination, but have stopped when a very familiar voice of crying has come into my ear. I peep through an opened window of a house only to find a familiar, bruised face of a very beautiful woman, who is shedding her precious tears, holding a photograph of a boy.

Mom…”  I call for her for the first time with my clearest and calmest voice. I didn’t know my voice is this soothing! But unfortunately, she hears nothing. How can she?! The Wind is invisible to human eyes. This is the rule of nature. Who am I to change it?! Though I will not be able to hug my mom anymore, kiss and adore her anymore; but one thing I can assure as “my mom’s bravest son” that no one will hurt my mom – no one will snatch her peace of mind. Now she doesn’t have to wait for me. She is all free –  so am I! And as I promised, I will be protecting her always.

——–

“26th October, Saturday, 1987, CalcuttaDeputy Commissioner Kunal Banerjee’s dead body has been found in a lift of a ten storied building along with some important papers on workers-employers disruption that happened three years ago. Police have also found a hidden bar in that building which was unknown to the most citizen of this city till date.  Further investigation is going on.

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