Where the mind is without fear...?!
Her footsteps echoed through the room with a ferociousness that tore her ears apart. With every step that she took, her heart grew heavier and heavier. And then she thought she would let go of her restraint and let herself sink into the present. But the past, shrouded in memories, never left her side. And the future? That looked unreal at this point. Ever since she heard that her husband – IPS officer Narendra Kumar – was brutally murdered, she had been residing in another world. Pain no longer pained her, and she had grown numb to pain and sorrow.
The child within her was moving, was frantically trying to come out of her womb and embrace her, as if to console her and say that nothing was wrong. She craved for that yet unheard voice to say that it was just a nightmare. That it would all be over with the next dawn. How she wished this was just a nightmare! Her bloodshot, tired eyes hadn’t slept for eons, but. Her dishevelled hair and the dark circles below her eyes said another story, but. A reality that she was struggling hard to evade.
Her beloved lay there. Covered in a translucent white sheet. The face that lit up every time he saw her, the eyes that sparkled with joy every time she whispered into his ears, the strong hands where she sought shelter – were all running away from her. They did not want her to see them in this state. They were battered, bludgeoned, bulldozed beyond recognition. But his heart still reached out to her. His voice still resounded around her – asking for justice. She still saw his expectant eyes from beneath that white veil – asking for an answer.
There were many hands trying to hold her back. But she no longer possessed her own self. She walked on. Those few metres were the longest walk of her life. She walked on till she could finally touch his lifeless body. His life of a bare thirty years was crushed brutally by someone who he did not even know. He had wanted to make a difference. They sacrificed him at the altar of truth. Nobody knew whose filthy hands were the ones painted red in his blood. No one cared. Kumar had tried to stop a stone-laden tractor trolley, and they crushed him beneath it – in broad daylight. The district of Banmore where he was serving as a Sub-Divisional Police Officer still bears testimony to the horror.
But there were many before her who had been widowed in the line of duty. Earlier it just appeared to be a nightmare that was too horrible to be true. She wasn’t aware of the designs of her fate back then. Several years down the line, fate had placed her in a position she would never even have thought of in her worst thoughts. March 8, 2012 was a day that left her alone to fight her way through the mazes of injustice.
That day was like any other day. But nobody knew what it had in store. Narendra Kumar had left for work in the usual manner. It pained her to think that she couldn’t even see him before he left for work that day. Her pregnancy had made her spend her time in Delhi, while he was there in Morena. How she wished life had taken some other turn.
They mowed him down. In cold blood. Was he at fault? No. That monosyllable would be the answer every single time that question was asked to her. He was working for his country. He was on probation and he wanted injustice to stop. He wanted corruption to end and he wanted the country to be a better place to live in. But they crushed his dreams; they trampled over him and his dreams. His hard stand against illegal mining in the area ended up burying him beneath those boulders that the tractor was laden with. And then they ran away, leaving him there bleeding profusely, and gradually embracing his death away from her, away from people who were his own.
He did not want to die so soon. He had just begun walking on the path he had dreamed about his entire life. Every nook and corner of the country knew why Narendra Kumar was killed. Somehow, just the ones in power were not able to put the noose around the necks of the ones who killed him. No one knows whether he will be gifted a gift of justice or not. Perhaps he would join the league of those fateful others whose cases still were in a limbo. His fault was that he tried too hard to see illegal mining eradicated from the place he was posted in. The little lamp that he had lighted in his battle against injustice was blown off by the blizzard of wrongs.
When will she be delivered justice? When will he be actually at peace? When will his soul finally rest in tranquillity? She still forages for an answer. Her pleas fall on quasi-deaf ears. He was not the first. He is just another whose life had been snatched away for trying to fight an evil called injustice. And she, his wife, is continually being gifted that same injustice. How much longer? She still doesn’t know.