Dark. The night was as dark as the heart of a murderer. But I felt safe. Mother was beside. Her warmth protected me against just anything. All my anxieties wither away- just one touch of hers, does wonders to me. The quiet night, was only destined to be quiet for a while. But we were not supposed to know yet. I felt the eternal quiet- a night, so calm and peaceful- an assurance brought about due to the sense of another being present beside- one whom you could touch and trust.
I lay lost in thoughts. I couldn’t sleep. I was just too happy. Everybody had been so happy that day. The day I was born. Father said that he had not ever been happier- than the day I was born. I knew he had spoken the truth. His eyes had never lied to me. My mother had probably guessed that I was not sleeping. She had started to pat me… gently. How come mothers know that? I could never understand that.
It had been an unusually quiet night. So quiet, that I could almost hear my own thoughts. I turned in my bed. I could see father. I think that I had got the best father in the whole world. Mother had been complaining since a few days back about “difficult days ahead”. I never understood what she meant by that. But father! He had never complained- about anything. He had always made sure that we were happy. He said- “It’s a man’s shame that his women complain. I would never let my little princess cry”. And he was a man of his words.
There were noises. Distant noises- coming closer- slowly- then rapidly. And all of a sudden- it ceased to be a quiet night. There were cries everywhere. People ailing. Crying out in pain- agony. People angry. People, in rage. In panic, in despair. It was a moment in my life when I felt all the human emotions- simultaneously. What was the cause of this commotion? I wondered.
Suddenly, I felt myself being lifted up by such a force- that I was being pulled back onto the firm ground from the land in my dream. It was mother. I could see her crying. Why was she crying? Father was beside her. The look on his face… What was it? Could that be fear? No. But it was fear. A strange helplessness- despair, had crept into him. I had never seen him like that. He looked at me. I tried to smile. But I couldn’t. I felt that my doubtful, uncertain glance at him had only weakened him. We were running. Like fugitives. Like animals being hunted. But why?
I saw people on the road. Some were holding up torches. The flames from the torches were not as bright as their eyes that shone with mad pleasure. Some of them had swords. Some- knives, spears. They were beating and killing everyone. I could recognize some of the people who were running along with us. Those were the people, who were being killed- tortured. We ran faster and faster. The noise around was unbearable. May be, we were dead. And we were in hell… What else could it be?
Suddenly, I had fallen off my mother’s clutches. And before I could realize what was happening, my mother had ceased to run. In fact, she had ceased to move, talk or cry. She was not… was she? Where is father? I looked around. Some of the men with swords were holding him. I started running towards him. He looked at me, and when he fell down, he was still looking at me. The men with swords were coming closer, towards me. I was not running. I was not crying. They were standing, now, facing me. Judging me. The noise was dying down. I could now see, only their eyes staring into mine. I heard myself say, “What did I do”? And all I could hear was, the echo of silence…