At Peace - contd
by Parnil Yodha
Back o page 1 of the story
All that came to Sammy’s mind was Doey’s jovial face and her innocent incisors-less smile and her own sister’s wan face. Her own face turned livid and pale. A moment later, it dawned on her that she had in fact seen a man like that in Muthu’s office. Her heart sank. Muthu was the only loving relation left in her life; the only one that she cherished to the bottom of her heart. All those happy memories were playing before her eyes like a reel of photos used to pan – while she and her sister peeped through the lens - in a decorated bioscope at the Dussehra fair during her early childhood days. She could still sense the tenderness of his touch on her body. She felt pain in her chest as though someone had punched her in the ribs. Her throat went parched. She felt something getting cracked in the chest; a thing that was not made of either glass or porcelain yet was as much brittle.
The demonstration had been going on since the last two days. . A handful of activists were shouting slogans, while the adivasis stood silent gripping placards in their hands. The local media were there – no sign of national media anywhere. The company had already installed their drilling machines and crushers by the limestone caves. The local police and the forest officials cordoned off the place of protest. The protesters did not retreat or even budge. Sammy was stood, holding Doey close to herself.
‘Sammy, Sammy,’ Muthu called out and pulled her by the arm, ‘What are you doing here? What will my subordinates say? You are a lunatic woman. No wonder, you
killed your own sister! Didn’t you even think of my reputation?’
There are people who have secrets, dark secrets - a mistake, a curse –that they do not divulge to anyone, not even to their conscious mind, even though the guilt gradually smoulders a hole in their soul and takes away the sleep from their eyes. Then again, there are those whose entire personality is a lie; their truth is what they mask with glib compliments, camouflage with humour, cover with a display of empty virtuousness and pack with an insincere show of concern. A conscious choice. No guilt. No remorse.
Sammy was furious. She snapped: ‘Don’t you dare gaslight me again? Do you get that? And you knew about all this all along, but you lied to me like I’m some fool. Scumbag! I don’t wanna see your face ever again!’ she said at the top of her voice.
Muthu recoiled and strode away. Sammy crouched down and wept bitterly. She went back to join her fellow protesters. Doey was standing next to Sammy, clung to her right leg as though crouching in fear. Sammy caressed Doey’s hair with her bony fingers as if to reassure her. Five minutes later, Sammy heard a crack of a firing gun. She hurtled and lunged at Doey to whisk her away from the gunfire. There was a bang and a bullet darted into Sammy’s upper back. Sammy collapsed on the ground. There was a nonchalant, calm expression on her face. No agony. No pain.
Breaking news on all national news channels:
Police open fire at the civil society groups and tribals protesting against the limestone mining project in a reserved forest area; one protester named Sameera died. A few got injured. ***