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Crisis of Faith

by Sriram

It has been exactly 69 hours since we heard the news and 75 hours since they were abducted. Three school students in their late teens were abducted en route to a national math Olympiad. Like many other proud parents, we were elated to learn that Rahul was selected to represent the State, at the national math Olympiad. One amongst thirty from a pool of infinite gifted peers is an achievement to savor. But little did we predict what followed. The thoughts of losing a dear one at the heights of mental elation and satisfaction is a feeling that we can seldom understand and comprehend. We were for sure holding up pretty well considering the trauma we were going through.

There were two other sets of people who were sharing our implausible restlessness. I don't even remember what their names are. We had paid the ransom money in full about two hours ago and it is on its way to the abductors. A peek at the boys in a two minute video was all that we were privileged to till now. But since then we have been treated to a merciless concoction of hope and fear. We were clearly told by the police that paying the ransom money was a big risk. But as parents, thats the only thing we could have done. I could sense the restless in my wife's eyes. She silently said a prayer once again for the umpteenth time and slowly rested on my shoulders. Even without the exchange of words, the emotions in the room were flying high. When you envision a future and work hard for it, its instances like this that actually make us wonder if it is worth all the effort we put in.

Interestingly its not only 'hope' that we all shared. A sense of belief in a power that is beyond the realms of human understanding and something that gives a sense of security however trivial and anti- nonchalant it might sound. Most of us live with a hope that, this omnipotent power can magically ward off most of the evils that we encounter. And here each of us were invoking the Almighty's attention in our own way. Every passing minute was like an eternity and the hope of meeting our beloved starting melting away.

In this midst, there started a commotion in the building. I looked at my wife confused and she reciprocated back with the same look. All the officers were getting nervous/excited and started moving here and there. Couple of officers were shouting instructions in their walki-talkies. One of the other concerned parents walked upto to us and said, "Do you have any idea what they are upto? I am not sure if we would be briefed continuously"! "No we also have no idea. I guess we have to wait a bit longer. Lets always hope for the best." By this time the other set of parents also joined us. Three sets of strangers connected by a string of hope and fear. We caught hold of one of the guys in uniform who was running past us with a bunch of files. "Sir, whats happening. Give us some updates please!!"

"I am not sure if I can say anything. But I think you people deserve to know. It seems that the exchange of ransom did not go as planned. There was a shootout between the police and the abductors. The causality is still unclear. I don't know what is the exact situation." I was numb with anxiety. Somehow the internal trauma was well disguised in the stoic exterior. I could sense that a couple of people were beginning to lose their composure. I instinctively asked, "Do you know anything about the kids? Please tell something!!"

After a couple of refusals, he reluctantly said, "One of the boys were caught in the cross fire. We are trying to confirm who exactly it is." Though he tried to be diplomatic, the implications were clear to me. They are trying to identify the dead boy. One of the three is dead.

As this information slowly sunk into us, the glances exchanged started becoming hostile. And so started a deluge of prayers.The supreme power has a task at hand. Thankfully I am not making not that choice and can pray my heart out hoping that he will not pick us. It would be interesting to know how he makes this choice.


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