Without turning my face, I run fast…very VERY fast….probably the fastest ever in my life. I am breathless and without shoes. Darkness of the night or fear of the graveyard I am passing across can’t even stop me today. I know I don’t have to look back, OR I will be caught. I am afraid but the reward is so alluring I forget the punishment for a moment. “who cares about these things when freedom is the reward” but at the same time my heart throbs like hell.
I still run…..faster and faster.
A neighbor recognizes me. He is my chachu’s (paternal uncle’s) best friend, Mehmood or Mooda (nickname). “Stop stop, Pinky…” He calls my name suspiciously. “Where are you going, little girl,”he repeats.
I pause, shivering.
“Oh shit….I am caught,” I murmur wiping sweat drenching my face. My heart slips out of my throat. I am almost dead. “No escape now. I will be dead FOR SURE,” I say to myself.
He is some yards away, sitting on a grave; cigarette in one hand and matchbox in the other. He jumps off the grave. And walks near me asking, “Where are you going?”
I feel my heart stopping at his question. Dead is sure.
“Where are you going?” He repeats furiously.
“Uncle…Mooda”I can hardly clear my throat to say his name.
“O…Un……c…le…”I can’t say his name clearly.
“What?” He frowns and foams; but I notice his eyes close slowly. Perhaps the cigarette he smokes ain’t good or he is sleepy. I don’t know.
“Mooda…come here,” somebody calls his name from behind. It is one of his group friends who sit with him at night. They are too busy to notice a little girl passing by. And I thank my lucky stars for it!
“Mooda” his friend calls again.
Half-conscious, half dizzy Uncle Moody tries to open his eyes;then he turns his face toward his group. He is stumbling.
“Thank God” I yell to run to the opposite direction. “Let’s run to bazaar side,” somebody whispers in my ear.
Bazaar is to the left side of the old graveyard. There are many shops, small and big. Many colorful stalls, many items, many people, many vehicles- Yes, it is the right way to go. Nobody can notice me here. I can sit in any vehicle and can go anywhere. Yes. This is my destination!
After hiding myself in a small van, I reach the other town or area-I don’t know about. It is rather a different place-silent,lonely and serene. I feel free here. I feel free in the moonless night, starless sky, haunted street and the friendless journey.
“Yes, I don’t like my home. It is so unfriendly. I don’t like my daddy. He is so rude. I don’t like the congested environment. I don’t like the unwelcoming family, my father has; I can live here forever. But not in that home,” I decide.
I keep walking alone till 3 AM or less-I don’t have a watch to note. There was nobody around. And I was so happy for the first time-the air is free, the place is free and the environment is welcoming!
Sometimes the darkness inside you make you fearless of the darkness outside you. There is no light. I can’t even see the rocky terrain. Everything is pitch-black in color or grey just like the black-n-white photographs we take. But I am not afraid. The place may be haunted but NOT haughty like the people, I left!
Sitting on a huge rock near the stream, I recall my mama, she is so nice to me. She will find me when she gets up.But doesn’t matter, she may be happy that I escaped. Or may be she cries. I don’t know. But I don’t like the place where she lives. I will ask her to come with me.
The darkness creeps further as black clouds cover the place. It is like a gigantic blanket on the sky. I can’t see anything. No man around. No animal.Nothing. Where to go. I am so small. I feel afraid now. I can hear roars. I can hear thunders.
I quiver. But can’t go back. Don’t want to go back. What to do? There is no van. Only woods, a stream, gloomy road and I. “Let’s find a way…let’s move from here” I move towards the road calling me.
Suddenly somebody put their hand on my right shoulder, “Pinky” I shiver at the known voice. (continued)