The 7 year old girl walked from school to her home. This was the first time she was walking alone on that route. On any other day, her mother would have gone to pick her up from school, but not that day. She was not aware that schools were declaring holiday an hour and a half earlier due to trouble in the town owing to some agitations and protests. Only few parents could be intimated about this.
A friend’s mother accompanied her to the lane leading to her apartment, from where it was just a minute’s walk. But that day, for some unknown reason she decided to roam about a bit and take the longer route. It is not always that she gets to roam about, and no one would know about it. After all she wouldn’t tell her mamma about that.
The road was almost deserted. It was usually the case around the noon time in this part of the country. She walked ahead leisurely, singing and dancing all along as if she owned the road. But this was short lived. In couple of minutes, the scene changed. She could see scores of men, all armed with lathis and sticks heading towards her.
What had she done?
She did all her homework, scored good marks, was obedient and had clean shoes.
Then why were they headed towards her?
She got scared. She took a turn in the nearby lane and hid behind a tree. The group of people moved ahead. Probably she was never their target. But where were they going. She decided to start for her home after few minutes, after the group had disappeared. Or maybe she could take another route. She knew that road. She had been through it many times with her mamma. She moved ahead, shedding all the fears, only to be face to face with few men behaving strangely.
Politely she asked one of them,
“Uncle, why are you breaking window of that house”
The uncle didn’t listen.
She did not hesitate before asking once again.
No reply came. She was just shoved away. Next few moments were spent in shedding tears, and remembering her mamma.
But that didn’t dampen her spirits. She continued her march towards her home, when she caught few men breaking the statue of a prominent national leader. Not learning anything from the lesson taught moments ago, she asked one of them
“Uncle, why are you breaking the picture?”
“Jaa chhori … apna kaam kar … ghar jaa … ye baccho ke khelne ki jagah nahi hai”
“Uncle, our teacher says that we should …”
“Kya teacher weacher lagaa rakha hai … Samajh nahi aata kya?”
“But, uncle …”
“Oye … Samajh nahi aata kya … Ek chaata maaroon kya”
She moved ahead.
She stared sobbing, and then crying when a stone hit her and blood started flowing. But she marched ahead. Then onwards, she was cautious at every step. The people had gone mad, she thought. Braving all the conditions she was victorious. She reached home, to be received as a triumphant girl, as if after winning a war. The minor injuries did not matter. Apart from the victorious look, her face had an expression that of asking hundreds of questions. Now it was turn of her parents to bear the brunt of her questions, which even they had no answers for.